The Disappearing Gender Gap: The Impact of Divorce, Wages, and Preferences on Education Choices and Women’s Work

October 26, 2011

By:Raquel Fernández and Joyce Cheng Wong

URL:http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17508&r=ltv

Women born in 1935 went to college significantly less than their male counterparts and married women’s labor force participation (LFP) averaged 40% between the ages of thirty and forty. The cohort born twenty years later behaved very differently. The education gender gap was eliminated and married women’s LFP averaged 70% over the same ages. In order to evaluate the quantitative contributions of the many significant changes in the economic environment, family structure, and social norms that occurred over this period, this paper develops a dynamic life-cycle model calibrated to data relevant to the 1935 cohort. We find that the higher probability of divorce and the changes in wage structure faced by the 1955 cohort are each able to explain, in isolation, a large proportion (about 60%) of the observed changes in female LFP. After combining all economic and family structure changes, we find that a simple change in preferences towards work can account for the remaining change in LFP. To eliminate the education gender gap requires, on the other hand, for the psychic cost of obtaining higher education to change asymmetrically for women versus men.
JEL:D91

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Double-Sided Moral Hazard in Job Displacement Insurance Contracts

October 17, 2011

By: Parsons, Donald O. (George Washington University)

URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:iza:izadps:dp6003&r=ltv

Job displacement insurance typically includes both unemployment benefits and lump-sum severance pay, and each has provoked policy concerns. Unemployment insurance concerns have centered on distorted job search/offer acceptance decisions by the worker, severance-induced firing cost concerns on excessive labor hoarding by firms. A single period private contracting model is used to investigate the interaction of these two seemingly distinct issues. Viewed singly, familiar results emerge. The absence of separation benefits of any kind leads to excessive labor hoarding as a primitive form of earnings insurance. In a limited information environment, the distribution of job displacement insurance between the two benefit types becomes important. Unemployment insurance benefits must be limited (relative to first-best levels) and severance pay made more generous. Firing cost considerations are less familiar. Because the firm wants to provide benefits, they cannot be “contracted around.” Although formally driven by the sum of (unsubsidized) severance pay and expected unemployment benefits, the second-best firing cost program limits severance pay only. Together the two constraints create an unpromising contracting environment. The firing cost constraint is the more easily relaxed by government action – subsidies of sufficient size to one or another of the separation programs will work. Offer acceptance requires restrictions on leisure (workfare). Unfortunately, if first-best benefits are mandated, efficiency requires that both be eased.
Keywords: job displacement, unemployment insurance, severance pay, moral hazard, firing costs
JEL: J65


Ethnic Identity and Labor-Market Outcomes of Immigrants in Europe

October 17, 2011

By: Alberto Bisin (New York University)
Eleonora Patacchini (La Sapienza University of Rome, Einaudi Institute for Economics and Finance (EIEF) and CEPR)
Thierry Verdier (Paris School of Economics (PSE) and CEPR)
Yves Zenou (Stockholm University, Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN), CEPR, IZA and CREAM)

URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:crm:wpaper:1103&r=ltv

We study the relationship between ethnic identity and labor-market outcomes of non-EU immigrants in Europe. Using the European Social Survey, we find that there is a penalty to be paid for immigrants with a strong identity. Being a first generation immigrant leads to a penalty of about 17 percent while second-generation immigrants have a probability of being employed that is not statistically different from that of natives. However, when they have a strong identity, second-generation immigrants have a lower chance of finding a job than natives. Our analysis also reveals that the relationship between ethnic identity and employment prospects may depend on the type of integration and labor-market policies implemented in the country where the immigrant lives. More flexible labor markets help immigrants to access the labor market but do not protect those who have a strong ethnic identity.


Rising Wage Inequality and Postgraduate Education

October 17, 2011

By: Lindley, Joanne (University of Surrey)
Machin, Stephen (University College London)

URL: http://d.repec.org/n?u=RePEc:iza:izadps:dp5981&r=ltv

This paper considers what has hitherto been a relatively neglected subject in the wage inequality literature, albeit one that has been becoming more important over time, namely the role played by increases in postgraduate education. We document increases in the number of workers with a postgraduate qualification in the United States and Great Britain. We also show their relative wages have risen over time as compared to all workers and more specifically to graduates with only a college degree. Consideration of shifts in demand and supply shows postgraduates and college only workers to be imperfect substitutes in production and that there have been trend increases over time in the relative demand for postgraduate vis-à-vis college only workers. These relative demand shifts are significantly correlated with technical change as measured by changes in industry computer usage and investment. Moreover, the skills sets possessed by postgraduates and the occupations in which they are employed are significantly different to those of college only graduates. Over the longer term period when computers have massively diffused into workplaces, it turns out that the principal beneficiaries of this computer revolution has not been all graduates, but those more skilled workers who have a postgraduate qualification. This has been an important driver of rising wage inequality amongst graduates over time.
Keywords: wage inequality, postgraduate education, computers
JEL: J24