nep-dem New Economics Papers
on Demographic Economics
Issue of 2020‒10‒05
six papers chosen by
Héctor Pifarré i Arolas
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

  1. Family-Leave Mandates and Female Labor at U.S. Firms: Evidence from a Trade Shock By Fariha Kamal; Asha Sundaram; Cristina J. Tello-Trillo
  2. On the Quantity and Quality of Girls : Fertility, Parental Investments, and Mortality By Lnu,Anukriti; Bhalotra,Sonia R.; Tam,Hiu
  3. Political Instability and Birth Outcomes: Evidence from the 1981 Military Coup in Spain By Aparicio Fenoll, Ainoa; Gonzalez, Libertad
  4. Real-Time Inequality and the Welfare State in Motion: Evidence from COVID-19 in Spain By Oriol Aspachs; Ruben Durante; Alberto Graziano; Josep Mestres; José García-Montalvo; Marta Reynal-Querol
  5. The Persuasive Effect of Fox News: Non-Compliance with Social Distancing During the COVID-19 Pandemic By Andrey Simonov; Szymon Sacher; Jean-Pierre Dube; Shirsho Biswas
  6. Are Happier People More Compliant? Global Evidence From Three Large-Scale Surveys During Covid-19 Lockdowns By Krekel, Christian; Swanke, Sarah; De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Fancourt, Daisy

  1. By: Fariha Kamal; Asha Sundaram; Cristina J. Tello-Trillo
    Abstract: We study the role of family-leave mandates in shaping the gender composition at U.S. firms that experience a negative demand shock. In a regression discontinuity framework, we compare firms mandated to provide job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and firms that are exempt from the law (non-FMLA) following the post-2001 surge in Chinese imports. Using confidential microdata on matched employers and employees in the U.S. non-farm private sector, we find that between 2000 and 2003, an increase in import competition decreases the share of female workers at FMLA compared to non-FMLA firms. The negative differential effect is driven by female workers in prime childbearing years, with less than college education, and is strongest at firms with all male managers. We find similar patterns in changes in the female share of earnings and promotions. These results suggest that, when traditional gender norms prevail, adverse shocks may exacerbate gender inequalities in the presence of job-protected leave mandates.
    Keywords: FMLA, job-protected leave, gender gap, regression discontinuity, China shock, gender norms
    JEL: F16 J08 J16 J18 J23
    Date: 2020–09
  2. By: Lnu,Anukriti; Bhalotra,Sonia R.; Tam,Hiu
    Abstract: The introduction of prenatal sex-detection technologies in India has led to a phenomenal increase in abortion of female fetuses. This paper examines the impacts of this on girl relative to boy mortality rates after birth, using data from 1973-2005. The analysis finds a narrowing of the gender gap in under-5 mortality rates, in line with surviving girls being more wanted. The estimates show that for every three aborted girls, one additional girl survives to age five. Investigation of the mechanisms finds a narrowing of gender gaps in parental investments in children, moderation of son-biased fertility stopping, and shrinking of the gap between actual and desired fertility. Heterogeneity in fertility responses suggests a shift in the distribution of girls toward lower socioeconomic status families. The findings have implications not only for counts of missing girls, but also for the later life outcomes of girls.
    Keywords: Law and Justice Institutions,Gender and Development,Health Care Services Industry,Inequality,Early Child and Children's Health,Reproductive Health,Nutrition
    Date: 2020–09–09
  3. By: Aparicio Fenoll, Ainoa; Gonzalez, Libertad (Universitat Pompeu Fabra)
    Abstract: We study the effect of exposure to political instability in-utero on health at birth. We exploit the coup d'état that took place in Spain on February 23, 1981. Although short-lived and unsuccessful, the event generated stress and fear among the population, especially in areas that had suffered more repression during the Civil War and the recent dictatorship. We follow a difference-in-differences strategy and compare birth outcomes before and after the coup, in areas that were differentially "affected". We find that children who were in utero during the coup in more affected areas were born with significantly lower birth-weight (around 9 grams lighter), especially if they were exposed to the coup in the first or second trimester of pregnancy. We contribute to the literature on the effects of maternal stress by focusing on an acute (and relatively common) source of distress that is unlikely to have affected newborn health via other channels.
    Keywords: birth outcomes, birth weight, political instability, military coup
    JEL: I12 J13
    Date: 2020–09
  4. By: Oriol Aspachs; Ruben Durante; Alberto Graziano; Josep Mestres; José García-Montalvo; Marta Reynal-Querol
    Abstract: Most official economic statistics have a relatively low frequency. The measures of inequality, in particular, are not only produced with low frequency but also with significant lags. This poses an important challenge for policymakers in their objective to mitigate the effects of a rapidly moving epidemic as the COVID-19. We propose a methodology for tracking the evolution of income inequality in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic using high-frequency, high-quality microdata from bank-records. Using this approach we study the evolution of inequality since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its effect on different groups of the population. First, we show that the payroll data managed by banks are an extremely useful source of information to detect, timely and accurately, changes in the distribution of wages. Our data replicate very closely the distribution of wages from the official wage surveys. Second, we show that, in absence of public benefits schemes, inequality would have increased dramatically. The impact of the crisis on inequality is explained mostly by its effect on low-wage workers. Pre-benefits wage inequality has increased significantly among foreign-born individuals, and regions that have a heavy economic dependence on touristic activities. Finally, we show that the public benefits activated soon after the beginning of the pandemic have substantially mitigated the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on inequality.
    JEL: C81 D63 E24 J31
    Date: 2020–09
  5. By: Andrey Simonov (Columbia University); Szymon Sacher (Columbia University); Jean-Pierre Dube (University of Chicago - Booth School of Business and NBER); Shirsho Biswas (University of Chicago - Booth School of Business)
    Abstract: We test for and measure the effects of cable news in the US on regional differences in compliance with recommendations by health experts to practice social distancing during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. We use a quasi-experimental design to estimate the causal effect of Fox News viewership on stay-at-home behavior by using only the incremental local viewership due to the quasi-random assignment of channel positions in a local cable line-up. We find that a 10% increase in Fox News cable viewership (approximately 0.13 higher viewer rating points) leads to a 1.3 percentage point reduction in the propensity to stay at home. We find a persuasion rate of Fox News on non-compliance with stay-at-home behavior during the crisis of about 5.7%-28.4% across our various social distancing metrics.
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Krekel, Christian (London School of Economics); Swanke, Sarah (London School of Economics); De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel (University of Oxford); Fancourt, Daisy (University College London)
    Abstract: Around the world, governments have been asking their citizens to practice physical distancing and stay at home to contain the spread of Covid-19. Are happier people more willing to comply with these measures? Using three independent surveys covering over 119,000 adult respondents across 35 countries, including longitudinal data from the UK, we test competing psychological theories, and find that past and present happiness predicts compliance during lockdown. The relationship is stronger for those with higher levels of happiness. A negative mood, or loss in happiness, predicts lower compliance. We explore risk-avoidance and pro-social motivations for compliance, and find that these are not uniform but dependent on personal characteristics and context: people who are older or have certain medical preconditions seem to be predominantly motivated by risk-avoidance, whereas motivations of people who are less at risk of Covid-19 seem more mixed. Our findings have implications for policy design, targeting, and communication.
    Keywords: COVID-19, lockdown compliance, happiness, mood maintenance, risk-avoidance, pro-sociality
    JEL: I31 D91 I12
    Date: 2020–09

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