The NEP-LTV Blog

September 27, 2010

This blog is an experiment to explore the feasibility of scientific discussion on an Economics blog. NEP-LTV disseminates every week new working papers in the field of Unemployment, Inequality & Poverty. Among them, the NEP-LTV editor selects one to be discussed. Everyone is invited to comment. Try to stay civil, or your comments will be removed. And encourage others to read or join in the discussion.

Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States

February 7, 2017


By: Thomas Piketty ; Emmanuel Saez ; Gabriel Zucman
This paper combines tax, survey, and national accounts data to estimate the distribution of national income in the United States since 1913. Our distributional national accounts capture 100% of national income, allowing us to compute growth rates for each quantile of the income distribution consistent with macroeconomic growth. We estimate the distribution of both pre-tax and post-tax income, making it possible to provide a comprehensive view of how government redistribution affects inequality. Average pre-tax national income per adult has increased 60% since 1980, but we find that it has stagnated for the bottom 50% of the distribution at about $16,000 a year. The pre-tax income of the middle class—adults between the median and the 90th percentile—has grown 40% since 1980, faster than what tax and survey data suggest, due in particular to the rise of tax-exempt fringe benefits. Income has boomed at the top: in 1980, top 1% adults earned on average 27 times more than bottom 50% adults, while they earn 81 times more today. The upsurge of top incomes was first a labor income phenomenon but has mostly been a capital income phenomenon since 2000. The government has offset only a small fraction of the increase in inequality. The reduction of the gender gap in earnings has mitigated the increase in inequality among adults. The share of women, however, falls steeply as one moves up the labor income distribution, and is only 11% in the top 0.1% today.
JEL: E01 H2 H5 J3


Globalization and Wage Inequality

February 7, 2017


By: Elhanan Helpman
Globalization has been blamed for rising inequality in rich and poor countries. Yet the views of many protagonists in this debate are not based on evidence. To help form an evidence-based opinion, I review in this paper the theoretical and empirical literature on the relationship between globalization and wage inequality. While the initial analysis that started in the early 1990s focused on a particular mechanism that links trade to wages, subsequent studies have considered several other channels, and the quantitative assessment of the size of these influences has been carried out in multiple studies. Building on this research, I conclude that trade played an appreciable role in increasing wage inequality, but that its cumulative effect has been modest, and that globalization does not explain the preponderance of the rise in wage inequality within countries.
JEL: F10 F61 F66


The Life-cycle Benefits of an Influential Early Childhood Program

February 7, 2017

By: Jorge Luis García ; James J. Heckman ; Duncan Ermini Leaf ; María José Prados
This paper estimates the long-term benefits from an influential early childhood program targeting disadvantaged families. The program was evaluated by random assignment and followed participants through their mid-30s. It has substantial beneficial impacts on health, children’s future labor incomes, crime, education, and mothers’ labor incomes, with greater monetized benefits for males. Lifetime returns are estimated by pooling multiple data sets using testable economic models. The overall rate of return is 13.7% per annum, and the benefit/cost ratio is 7.3. These estimates are robust to numerous sensitivity analyses.
JEL: C93 I28 J13

Intergenerational Mobility and Preferences for Redistribution

February 7, 2017

By: Alesina, Alberto ; Stantcheva, Stefanie ; Teso, Edoardo
Using newly collected cross-country survey and experimental data, we investigate how beliefs about intergenerational mobility affect preferences for redistribution in five countries: France, Italy, Sweden, U.K., and U.S.. Americans are more optimistic than Europeans about intergenerational mobility, and too optimistic relative to actual mobility. Our randomized treatment that shows respondents pessimistic information about mobility increases support for redistribution, mostly for equality of opportunity policies. A strong political polarization exists: Left-wing respondents are more pessimistic about intergenerational mobility, their preferences for redistribution are correlated with their mobility perceptions, and they respond to pessimistic information by increasing support for redistribution. None of these apply to right-wing respondents, possibly because of their extremely negative views of government.
Keywords: Fairness; intergenerational mobility; Online Experiment; redistribution; taxation
JEL: D31 D72 H21 H23 H24


Do State Laws Protecting Older Workers from Discrimination Reduce Age Discrimination in Hiring? Experimental (and Nonexperimental) Evidence

February 7, 2017


By: David Neumark (University of California-Irvine) ; Ian Burn (University of California-Irvine) ; Patrick Button (Tulane University) ; Nanneh Chehras (University of California-Irvine)
We provide evidence from a field experiment — a correspondence study — on age discrimination in hiring for retail sales jobs. We collect experimental data in all 50 states and then relate measured age discrimination — the difference in callback rates between old and young applicants — to variation across states in antidiscrimination laws offering protections to older workers that are stronger than the federal age and disability discrimination laws. We do a similar analysis for nonexperimental data on differences across states in hiring rates of older versus younger workers. The experimental evidence points consistently to evidence of hiring discrimination against older men and more so against older women. However, the evidence on the relationship between hiring discrimination against older workers and state variation in age and disability discrimination laws is not so clear; at a minimum, there is not a compelling case that stronger state protections reduce hiring discrimination against older workers. In contrast, the nonexperimental evidence suggests that stronger disability discrimination protections increase the relative hiring of older workers.

The Economic Consequences of Family Policies: Lessons from a Century of Legislation in High-Income Countries

February 7, 2017


By: Claudia Olivetti ; Barbara Petrongolo
We draw lessons from existing work and our own analysis on the effects of parental leave and other interventions aimed at aiding families. The outcomes of interest are female employment, gender gaps in earnings and fertility. We begin with a discussion of the historical introduction of family policies ever since the end of the nineteenth century and then turn to the details regarding family policies currently in effect across high-income nations. We sketch a framework concerning the effects of family policy to motivate our country- and micro-level evidence on the impact of family policies on gender outcomes. Most estimates of the impact of parental leave entitlement on female labor market outcomes range from negligible to weakly positive. The verdict is far more positive for the beneficial impact of spending on early education and childcare.
Keywords: parental leave, childcare, family policies, gender gaps
JEL: J13 J16 J18


Locus of Control and Investment in Training

February 7, 2017


By: Marco Caliendo ; Deborah A. Cobb-Clark ; Helke Seitz ; Arne Uhlendorff
This paper extends standard models of work-related training by explicitly incorporating workers’ locus of control into the investment decision. Our model both differentiates between general and specific training and accounts for the role of workers and firms in training decisions. Workers with an internal locus of control are predicted to engage in more general training than are their external co-workers because their subjective expected investment returns are higher. In contrast, we expect little relationship between specific training and locus of control because training returns largely accrue to firms rather than workers. We then empirically test the predictions of our model using data from the German Socioeconomic Panel (SOEP). We find that, consistent with our model, locus of control is related to participation in general but not specific training. Moreover, we provide evidence that locus of control influences participation in general training through its effect on workers’ expectations about future wage increases. Specifically, general training is associated with a much larger increase in the expected likelihood of receiving a future pay raise for those with an internal rather than external locus of control, while we do not find any relationship in the case of specific training. Actual post-training wages for those who receive general or specific training do not depend on locus of control.
Keywords: Human Capital Investment, On-the-job Training, Locus of Control, Wage Expectations
JEL: J24 C23 D84