Family, Community and Life-Cycle Earnings: Evidence from Siblings and Youth Peers

March 6, 2018
By: Paul Bingley ; Lorenzo Cappellari ; Konstantinos Tatsiramos
Using longitudinal data based on administrative registers for the population of Danish men we develop a model which accounts for the joint earnings dynamics of siblings and youth community peers. We are the first to decompose the sibling correlation of permanent earnings into family and community effects allowing for life-cycle dynamics; finding that family is the most important factor influencing earnings inequality over the life cycle. Community background explains a substantial share of the sibling correlation of earnings early in the working life, but its importance diminishes over time and becomes negligible after age 30.
Keywords: sibling correlation, neighborhoods, schools, long-term inequality
JEL: D31 J62

Behavioral Inattention

March 6, 2018
By: Xavier Gabaix
Inattention is a central, unifying theme for much of behavioral economics. It permeates such disparate fields as microeconomics, macroeconomics, finance, public economics, and industrial organization. It enables us to think in a rather consistent way about behavioral biases, speculate about their origins, and trace out their implications for market outcomes. This survey first discusses the most basic models of attention, using a fairly unified framework. Then, it discusses the methods used to measure attention, which present a number of challenges on which much progress has been done. It then examines the various theories of attention, both behavioral and more Bayesian. It finally discusses some applications. For instance, inattention offers a way to write a behavioral version of basic microeconomics, as in consumer theory, producer theory, and Arrow-Debreu. A last section is devoted to open questions in the attention literature. This chapter is a pedagogical guide to the literature on attention. Derivations are self-contained.
JEL: D03 D11 D51 G02 H2

Social Welfare Losses Due to Occupational Segregation by Gender and Race/Ethnicity in the U.S.: Are There Differences across Regions?

March 6, 2018
By: Coral del Río ; Olga Alonso-Villar
Taking into account the well-being losses or gains that each gender-race/ethnicity group has associated with its occupational sorting, this paper explores the social welfare loss that each U.S. large region experiences due to the different circumstances faced by these groups in each regional labor market. To analyze the period 1980–2012 in those terms, we use novel measures that aggregate the well-being losses or gains of the groups consistently with the literature on deprivation. To take into account that disparities among regions may arise from differences in characteristics, this papers uses a propensity score procedure that allows controlling for gender and racial/ethnic composition, immigration profile, educational level, and industrial structure.
Keywords: Occupational segregation; social welfare; gender; race, regions
JEL: D63 D23 J15 J71

Marriage, Labor Supply and the Dynamics of the Social Safety Net

March 6, 2018
By: Hamish Low (University Cambridge) ; Costas Meghir (Cowles Foundation, Yale University) ; Luigi Pistaferri (Stanford University, NBER, CEPR and SIEPR) ; Alessandra Voena (University of Chicago, NBER, CEPR and BREAD)
The 1996 PRWORA reform introduced time limits on the receipt of welfare in the United States. We use variation by state and across demographic groups to provide reduced form evidence showing that such limits led to a fall in welfare claims (partly due to \banking” benefits for future use), a rise in employment, and a decline in divorce rates. We then specify and estimate a life-cycle model of marriage, labor supply and divorce under limited commitment to better understand the mechanisms behind these behavioral responses, carry out counterfactual analysis with longer run impacts and evaluate the welfare effects of the program. Based on the model, which reproduces the reduced form estimates, we show that among low educated women, instead of relying on TANF, single mothers work more, more mothers remain married, some move to relying only on food stamps and, in ex-ante welfare terms, women are worse off.
Keywords: Time limits, Welfare reform, Life-cycle, Marriage and divorce
JEL: D91 H53 J12 J21

People versus Machines: The Impact of Minimum Wages on Automatable Jobs

March 6, 2018
By: Lordan, Grace (London School of Economics) ; Neumark, David (University of California, Irvine)
We study the effect of minimum wage increases on employment in automatable jobs – jobs in which employers may find it easier to substitute machines for people – focusing on low-skilled workers for whom such substitution may be spurred by minimum wage increases. Based on CPS data from 1980–2015, we find that increasing the minimum wage decreases significantly the share of automatable employment held by low-skilled workers, and increases the likelihood that low-skilled workers in automatable jobs become nonemployed or employed in worse jobs. The average effects mask significant heterogeneity by industry and demographic group, including substantive adverse effects for older, low-skilled workers in manufacturing. We also find some evidence that the same changes improve job opportunities for higher-skilled workers. The findings imply that groups often ignored in the minimum wage literature are in fact quite vulnerable to employment changes and job loss because of automation following a minimum wage increase.
Keywords: minimum wage, employment, automation
JEL: J23 J38

Do Economic Recessions Squeeze the Middle-Class?

February 27, 2018
By: Alberto Batinti ; Joan Costa-i-Font
Economic downturns give rise to unexpected employment shocks that can reshape the distribution of population income, and hence produce a “middle-class squeeze”. However, there is limited empirical evidence testing the latter. This paper aims at testing the ‘middle-class squeeze’ hypothesis drawing from unique data from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) for several years, including the period of the Great Recession, and the Integrated Values Study (IVS) obtained by merging data from the World Value Survey (WVS) and the European Values Study (EVS). We examine the association between changes in unemployment in a recession drawing upon a heterogeneous set of both income and middle-class definitions as well as an extensive list of controls and different recession periods. Our findings suggest no robust evidence that recessions produce a middle-class squeeze, though they increase the share of the population regarding itself as ‘middle class’. The effect is heterogeneous to the baseline unemployment at the time of a recession, country spending on social protection and middle-class measurements and definitions. However, when we restrict our analysis to the recent Great Recession, we do find some evidence of a ‘middle-class squeeze’.
Keywords: middle-class size, economic recessions, employment shocks, income distribution
JEL: F22 I30 J64

The Effects of Youth Labor Market Reforms: Evidence from Italian Apprenticeships

February 27, 2018
By: Andrea Albanese ; Lorenzo Cappellari ; Marco Leonardi
This paper estimates the causal effects of the 2003 reform of the Italian apprenticeship contract which aimed at introducing the “dual system†in Italy by allowing on-the-job training. The reform also increased the age eligibility of the apprenticeship contract and introduced a minimum floor to apprentices’ wages. Using administrative data and balancing techniques we find that five years after hiring, the new contract improves the chances of moving to a permanent job in the same firm, yet this happens mostly in large firms. There are also sizeable long-run wage effects of the reform, well beyond the legal duration of apprenticeships, compatible with increased human capital accumulation probably due to the training provisions of the reform.
Keywords: apprenticeship, permanent work, youth employment, covariate balancing propensity score
JEL: J24 J41 C21