Gender: An Historical Perspective

May 17, 2018
By: Giuliano, Paola
Social attitudes toward women vary significantly across societies. This chapter reviews recent empirical research on various historical determinants of contemporary differences in gender roles and gender gaps across societies, and how these differences are transmitted from parents to children and therefore persist until today. We review work on the historical origin of differences in female labor-force participation, fertility, education, marriage arrangements, competitive attitudes, domestic violence, and other forms of difference in gender norms. Most of the research illustrates that differences in cultural norms regarding gender roles emerge in response to specific historical situations, but tend to persist even after the historical conditions have changed. We also discuss the conditions under which gender norms either tend to be stable or change more quickly.
Keywords: Cultural persistence; Cultural Transmission; Gender
JEL: J16 N0 Z1

The Long-Lasting Effects of Family and Childhood on Adult Wellbeing: Evidence from British Cohort Data

May 17, 2018
By: Andrew E. Clark ; Sarah Flèche ; Warn N. Lekfuangfu
To what extent do childhood experiences continue to affect adult wellbeing over the life course? Previous work on this link has been carried out either at one particular adult age or for some average of adulthood. We here use two British birth-cohort datasets (the 1958 NCDS and the 1970 BCS) to map out the time profile of the effect of childhood on adult outcomes, including life satisfaction. We find that the effect of many aspects of childhood do not fade away over time, but are rather remarkably stable. In both birth cohorts child non-cognitive skills are the strongest predictors of adult life satisfaction at all ages. Of these, emotional health is the strongest. Childhood cognitive performance is more important than good conduct in explaining adult life satisfaction in the earlier cohort, whereas this ranking is inverted in the more recent BCS.
Keywords: life satisfaction, cohort data, childhood, adult outcomes
JEL: A12 D60 I31

Understanding Cultural Persistence and Change

May 17, 2018
By: Paola Giuliano ; Nathan Nunn
When does culture persist and when does it change? We examine a determinant that has been put forth in the anthropology literature: the variability of the environment from one generation to the next. A prediction, which emerges from a class of existing models from evolutionary anthropology, is that following the customs of the previous generation is relatively more beneficial in stable environments where the culture that has evolved up to the previous generation is more likely to be relevant for the subsequent generation. We test this hypothesis by measuring the variability of average temperature across 20-year generations from 500–1900. Looking across countries, ethnic groups, and the descendants of immigrants, we find that populations with ancestors who lived in environments with more stability from one generation to the next place a greater importance in maintaining tradition today. These populations also exhibit more persistence in their traditions over time.
JEL: N10 Q54 Z1

Going after the Addiction, Not the Addicted: The Impact of Drug Decriminalization in Portugal

May 17, 2018
By: Félix, Sónia (Banco de Portugal) ; Portugal, Pedro (Banco de Portugal) ; Tavares, Ana (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
This paper investigates the impact of drug decriminalization in Portugal using the Synthetic Control Method. The applied econometric methodology compares Portuguese drug-related variables with the ones extracted from a convex combination of similar European countries. The results suggest that a policy change implemented in Portugal contributed to a decrease in the number of heroine and cocaine seizures, a decrease in the number of offenses and drug-related deaths, and a decrease in the number of clients entering treatment. Moreover, the policy change contributed to a reduction in the incidence of drug addicts among HIV individuals.
Keywords: drug decriminalization policy, illicit drugs, synthetic control method
JEL: C21 D04 K42

Challenged by migration: Europe’s options

April 9, 2018
By: Constant, Amelie F. (Princeton University) ; Zimmermann, Klaus F. (UNU-MERIT, and Maastricht University)
This paper examines the migration and labour mobility in the European Union and elaborates on their importance for the existence of the EU. Against all measures of success, the current public debate seems to suggest that the political consensus that migration is beneficial is broken. This comes with a crisis of European institutions in general. Migration and labour mobility have not been at the origin of the perceived cultural shift. The EU in its current form and ambition could perfectly survive or collapse even if it solves its migration challenge. But it will most likely collapse, if it fails to solve the mobility issue by not preserving free internal labour mobility and not establishing a joint external migration policy.
Keywords: labour mobility, migration, European Union, refugees
JEL: D01 D02 D61 F02 F16 F22 F66

Wealth, Top Incomes and Inequality

April 9, 2018
By: Frank Cowell ; Brian Nolan ; Javier Olivera ; Philippe Van Kerm
Although it is heartening to see wealth inequality being taken seriously, key concepts are often muddled, including the distinction between income and wealth, what is included in “wealth”, and facts about wealth distributions. This chapter highlights issues that arise in making ideas and facts about wealth inequality precise, and employs newly-available data to take a fresh look at wealth and wealth inequality in a comparative perspective. The composition of wealth is similar across countries, with housing wealth being the key asset. Wealth is considerably more unequally distributed than income, and it is distinctively so in the United States. Extending definitions to include pension wealth however reduces inequality substantially. Analysis also sheds light on life-cycle patterns and the role of inheritance. Discussion of the joint distributions of income and wealth suggests that interactions between increasing top income shares and the concentration of wealth and income from wealth towards the top is critical.
Keywords: Inequality,Wealth,Income,Households,Inheritance,Top Incomes,Cross national,comparative

Misperceptions of income distributions: Cross-country evidence from a randomized survey experiment

April 9, 2018
By: Elisabeth Bublitz
This paper investigates whether the individual misperception of income distributions helps explain why, opposite to Meltzer and Richard (1981), higher initial inequality levels do not correlate positively with redistribution. I conduct a representative survey experiment in Brazil, France, Germany, Russia, Spain, and the United States, providing a personalized information treatment on the income distribution to a randomly chosen subsample. Most respondents misperceive their own position in the income distribution. These biases di_er by country and the true income position. Misperceptions of the median income relate negatively to misperceived income positions, showing evidence for biased reference points. Correcting misperceptions slightly shifts the demand towards less redistribution in Germany and Russia which appears to be driven by respondents with a negative position bias. Apart from Spain and the US, treatment reactions lead to a convergence of the demand for redistribution across countries. The treatment also alters trust levels in government and beliefs about the importance of luck but not equally across bias types.
Keywords: Income distribution, biased perceptions, inequality, survey experiment
JEL: D31 D63 H20