nep-dem New Economics Papers
on Demographic Economics
Issue of 2020‒10‒26
nine papers chosen by
Héctor Pifarré i Arolas
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

  1. Life-cycle living standards of intact and disrupted English working families, 1260-1850 By Horrell, Sara; Humphries, Jane; Weisdorf, Jacob
  2. Wind of Change? Cultural Determinants of Maternal Labor Supply By Barbara Boelmann; Anna Raute; Uta Schönberg
  3. Gender Norms and Labor-Supply Expectations: Experimental Evidence from Adolescents By Elisabeth Grewenig; Philipp Lergetporer; Katharina Werner
  4. Evolution of Individual Preferences and Persistence of Family Rules By Alessandro Cigno; Alessandro Gioffré; Annalisa Luporini
  5. Black-White Disparities During an Epidemic: Life Expectancy and Lifespan Disparity in the US, 1980-2000 By Aburto, Jose Manuel; Kristensen, Frederikke Frehr; Sharp, Paul
  6. COVID-19 and the future of US fertility: what can we learn from Google? By Joshua Wilde; Wei Chen; Sophie Lohmann
  7. Nineteenth through early 20th Century Female and Male Statures within the Household By Scott A. Carson
  8. Opening the Door: Migration and Self-Selection in a Restrictive Legal Immigration Regime By Elizabeth U. Cascio; Ethan G. Lewis
  9. Covid-19 and the U.S. Safety Net By Robert A. Moffitt; James P. Ziliak

  1. By: Horrell, Sara; Humphries, Jane; Weisdorf, Jacob
    Abstract: We provide a framework for considering the living standards among intact and disrupted working-class families of various sizes in historical England. We estimate family incomes without resort to the usual male day wages and ahistorical assumptions about men’s labour inputs, instead using approximations of their annual earnings. We incorporate women and children’s wages and labour inputs and use a family life-cycle approach which accommodates consumption smoothing through saving. The analysis extends to families with often overlooked but historically common structures: widows with their children, deserted wives, and families which include husbands/fathers but ones unable or unwilling to work. Our framework suggests living standards varied considerably over time and by family structure and dependency ratio. Small and intact families enjoyed high and rising living standards after 1700. Large, broken, and disrupted families depended on child labour and poor relief up until 1830.
    Keywords: child labour; consumption soothing; costs-of-living; dependency ratio; life cycle; living standards; poor relief; prices; wages
    JEL: J22 N13 O10
    Date: 2020–10
  2. By: Barbara Boelmann (University College London); Anna Raute (Queen Mary University of London); Uta Schönberg (University College London)
    Abstract: Does the culture in which a woman grows up influence her labor market decisions once she has had a child? To what extent might the culture of her present social environment shape maternal labor supply? To address these questions, we exploit the setting of German reunification. A state socialist country, East Germany strongly encouraged mothers to participate in the labor market full-time, whereas West Germany propagated a more traditional male breadwinner-model. After reunification, these two cultures were suddenly thrown together, with consequent increased social interactions between East and West Germans through migration and commuting. A comparison of East and West German mothers on both sides of the former Inner German border within the same commuting zone shows that culture matters. Indeed, East German mothers return to work more quickly and for longer hours than West German mothers even two decades after reunification. Second, in exploiting migration across this old border, we document a strong asymmetry in the persistence of the culture in which women were raised. Whereas East German female migrants return to work earlier and work longer hours than their West German colleagues even after long exposure to the more traditional West German culture, West German migrants adjust their post-birth labour supply behaviour nearly entirely to that of their East German colleagues. Finally, taking advantage of differential inflows of East German migrants across West German firms in the aftermath of reunification, we show that even a partial exposure to East German colleagues induces “native” West German mothers to accelerate their return to work after childbirth, suggesting that migration might be a catalyst for cultural change.
    Keywords: cultural transmission, social norms, maternal labor force participation, German
    JEL: J1 J2 Z1
    Date: 2020–10–05
  3. By: Elisabeth Grewenig; Philipp Lergetporer; Katharina Werner
    Abstract: Gender gaps in labor-market outcomes often emerge with arrival of the first child. We investigate a causal link between gender norms and labor-supply expectations within a survey experiment among 2,000 German adolescents. Using a hypothetical scenario, we document that most girls expect to work 20 hours or less per week when having a young child, and expect from their partners to work 30 hours or more. Randomized treatments that highlight the existing traditional norm towards mothers, significantly reduce girls’ self-expected labor supply and thereby increase the expected gender difference in labor supply between their partners and themselves (i.e., the expected within-family gender gap). Treatment effects persist in a follow-up survey two weeks later, and extend to incentivized outcomes. In a second experiment conducted in the follow-up survey, we highlight another, more gender-egalitarian, norm towards shared household responsibilities and show that this attenuates the expected within-family gender gap. Together our results suggest that social norms play an important role in shaping gender gaps in labor-market outcomes around child birth.
    Keywords: gender norms, female labor supply, survey experiment
    JEL: J16 J22 C93 D83
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Alessandro Cigno; Alessandro Gioffré; Annalisa Luporini
    Abstract: How does the distribution of individual preferences evolve as a result of marriage between individuals with different preferences? Could a family rule be self-enforcing given individual preferences, and remain such for several generations despite preference evolution? We show that it is in a couple’s common interest to obey a rule requiring them to give specified amounts of attention to their elderly parents if the couple’s preferences satisfy a certain condition, and the same condition is rationally expected to hold also where their children and respective spouses are concerned. Given uncertainty about who their children will marry, a couple’s expectations will reflect the probability distribution of preferences in the next generation. We show that, in any given generation, some couples may obey the rule in question and some may not. It is also possible that a couple will obey the rule, but their descendants will not for a number of generations, and then obey it again. In the long run, if matching is entirely random, either everybody obeys the same rule, or nobody obeys any. If matching is restricted to particular subpopulations identifiable by some visible trait, such as religion or colour of the skin, different subpopulations may obey different rules. The policy implications are briefly discussed.
    Keywords: family rule, care of the elderly, matching, evolution, migration
    JEL: C78 D13 J12
    Date: 2020
  5. By: Aburto, Jose Manuel (University of Oxford, University of Southern Denmark); Kristensen, Frederikke Frehr (University of Southern Denmark); Sharp, Paul (University of Southern Denmark, CAGE, CEPR)
    Abstract: Covid-19 has demonstrated again that epidemics can affect minorities more than the population in general. We consider one of the last major epidemics in the United States: HIV/AIDS from ca. 1980-2000. We calculate life expectancy and lifespan disparity (a measure of variance in age at death) for thirty US states, finding noticeable differences both between states and between the black and white communities. Lifespan disparity allows us to examine distributional effects, and, using decomposition methods, we find that for six states lifespan disparity for blacks increased between 1980 and 1990, while life expectancy increased less than for whites. We find that we can attribute most of this to the impact of HIV/AIDS.
    Keywords: AIDS, HIV, life expectancy, lifespan disparity JEL Classification: I14, J15, N32
    Date: 2020
  6. By: Joshua Wilde (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany); Wei Chen (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany); Sophie Lohmann (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)
    Abstract: We use data from Google Trends to predict the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on future births in the United States. First, we show that periods of above-normal search volume for Google keywords relating to conception and pregnancy in US states are associated with higher numbers of births in the following months. Excess searches for unemployment keywords have the opposite effect. Second, by employing simple statistical learning techniques, we demonstrate that including information on keyword search volumes in prediction models significantly improves forecast accuracy over a number of cross-validation criteria. Third, we use data on Google searches during the COVID-19 pandemic to predict changes in aggregate fertility rates in the United States at the state level through February 2021. Our analysis suggests that between November 2020 and February 2021, monthly US births will drop sharply by approximately 15%. For context, this would be a 50% larger decline than that following the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and similar in magnitude to the declines following the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918-1919 and the Great Depression. Finally, we find heterogeneous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic across different types of mothers. Women with less than a college education, as well as Black or African American women, are predicted to have larger declines in fertility due to COVID-19. This finding is consistent with elevated caseloads of COVID-19 in low-income and minority neighborhoods, as well as with evidence suggesting larger economic impacts of the crisis among such households.
    Keywords: fertility
    JEL: J1 Z0
    Date: 2020
  7. By: Scott A. Carson
    Abstract: When other measures for material conditions are scarce or unreliable, the use of height is now common to evaluate economic conditions during economic development. However, throughout US economic development, height data by gender have been slow to emerge. Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, female and male statures remained constant. Agricultural workers had taller statures than workers in other occupations, and the female agricultural height premium was over twice that of males. For both females and males, individuals with fairer complexions were taller than their darker complexioned counterparts. Gender collectively had the greatest explanatory effect associated with stature, followed by age and nativity. Socioeconomic status and birth period had the smallest collective effects with stature.
    Keywords: gender studies, stature by gender, economic transitions
    JEL: C10 C40 D10 I10 N30
    Date: 2020
  8. By: Elizabeth U. Cascio; Ethan G. Lewis
    Abstract: We examine how the large, one-time legalization authorized by the Immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) has affected the scale and character of immigration to the U.S. since the late 1980s. Exploiting cross-country variation in the magnitude of the legalization shock, we find that each IRCA admit accounts for the subsequent admission of 1 to 2 family members, mostly immediate family. There is little evidence that the legalization increased subsequent unauthorized migration; in fact, fewer temporary visa overstays have somewhat offset the additional family admissions. The marginal family-sponsored admit has not been negatively selected and has not increased fiscal burdens.
    JEL: F22 J08 J61 J68
    Date: 2020–10
  9. By: Robert A. Moffitt; James P. Ziliak
    Abstract: We examine trends in employment, earnings, and incomes over the last two decades in the United States, and how the safety net has responded to changing fortunes, including the shutdown of the economy in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic. The U.S. safety net is a patchwork of different programs providing in-kind as well as cash benefits and had many holes prior to the Pandemic. In addition, few of the programs are designed explicitly as automatic stabilizers. We show that the safety net response to employment losses in the Covid-19 Pandemic largely consists only of increased support from unemployment insurance and food assistance programs, which did not replace the lost income for many households. We discuss possible options to reform social assistance in America that may provide more robust income floors in times of economic downturns.
    JEL: I38 J65 J78
    Date: 2020–10

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