nep-dem New Economics Papers
on Demographic Economics
Issue of 2020‒11‒09
five papers chosen by
Héctor Pifarré i Arolas
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

  1. Macroeconomic Outcomes and COVID-19: A Progress Report By Jesús Fernández-Villaverde; Charles I. Jones
  2. How do People Respond to Small Probability Events with Large, Negative Consequences? By Martin S. Eichenbaum; Miguel Godinho de Matos; Francisco Lima; Sergio Rebelo; Mathias Trabandt
  3. The Emergence of Procyclical Fertility: The Role of Gender Differences in Employment Risk By Sena Coskun; Husnu Dalgic
  4. Fertility after The Drought: Theory and Evidence from Madagascar By Sylvain Dessy; Francesca Marchetta; Roland Pongou; Luca Tiberti
  5. Historical Data: Where to Find Them, How to Use Them By Paola Giuliano; Andrea Matranga

  1. By: Jesús Fernández-Villaverde; Charles I. Jones
    Abstract: This paper combines data on GDP, unemployment, and Google's COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports with data on deaths from COVID-19 to study the macroeconomic outcomes of the pandemic. We present results from an international perspective using data at the country level as well as results for individual U.S. states and key cities throughout the world. The data from these different levels of geographic aggregation offer a remarkably similar view of the pandemic despite the substantial heterogeneity in outcomes. Countries like Korea, Japan, Germany, and Norway and cities such as Tokyo and Seoul have comparatively few deaths and low macroeconomic losses. At the other extreme, New York City, Lombardy, the United Kingdom, and Madrid have many deaths and large macroeconomic losses. There are fewer locations that seem to succeed on one dimension but suffer on the other, but these include California and Sweden. The variety of cases potentially offers useful policy lessons regarding how to use non-pharmaceutical interventions to support good economic and health outcomes.
    JEL: E10 E32
    Date: 2020–10
  2. By: Martin S. Eichenbaum; Miguel Godinho de Matos; Francisco Lima; Sergio Rebelo; Mathias Trabandt
    Abstract: We study how people react to small probability events with large negative consequences using the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic as a natural experiment. Our analysis is based on a unique administrative data set with anonymized monthly expenditures at the individual level. We find that older consumers reduced their spending by more than younger consumers in a way that mirrors the age dependency in COVID-19 case-fatality rates. This differential expenditure reduction is much more prominent for high-contact goods than for low-contact goods and more pronounced in periods with high COVID-19 cases. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that people react to the risk of contracting COVID-19 in a way that is consistent with a canonical model of risk taking.
    JEL: E21 I1
    Date: 2020–10
  3. By: Sena Coskun; Husnu Dalgic
    Abstract: Fertility in the US has exhibited a procyclical pattern since the 1970s. We argue that gender differences in employment risk leads to procyclical fertility: men tend to work in volatile and procyclical industries, while women are more likely to work in relatively stable and countercyclical industries. The relative gender employment gap is countercyclical as women become breadwinners in recessions, producing an insurance effect of female income. Our quantitative framework features a general equilibrium OLG model with endogenous fertility and human capital choice and shows that the current gender industry composition in the US data fully accounts for the procyclicality observed. We can also generate countercyclical fertility, as observed in the 1960s, either when the female income share is low or procyclical. Finally, we argue that the insurance effect of female income in bad times tilts the quality-quantity trade-off towards quality.
    Keywords: fertility, fertility cyclicality, industry cyclicality, gender asymmetric employment, gender income gap, quality-quantity trade-off
    JEL: E24 E32 J11 J13 J16 J21 J24
    Date: 2020–10
  4. By: Sylvain Dessy; Francesca Marchetta; Roland Pongou; Luca Tiberti
    Abstract: In communities highly dependent on rainfed agriculture for their livelihoods, the common occur-rence of climatic shocks such as droughts can lower the opportunity cost of having children, and raise fertility. Using longitudinal household data from Madagascar, we estimate the causal effect of drought occurrences on fertility, and explore the nature of potential mechanisms driving this effect. We exploit exogenous within-district year-to-year variation in rainfall deficits, and find that droughts occurring during the agricultural season significantly increase the number of children born to women living in agrarian communities. This effect is long lasting, as it is not reversed within four years following the drought occurrence. Analyzing the mechanism, we find that droughts have no effect on common underlying factors of high fertility such as marriage timing and child mortality. Furthermore, droughts have no significant effect on fertility if they occur during the non-agricultural season or in non-agrarian communities, and their positive effect in agrarian communities is mitigated by irrigation. These findings provide evidence that a low opportunity cost of having children is the main channel driving the fertility effect of drought in agrarian communities.
    Keywords: Climatic shocks; Droughts; Agricultural season; Opportunity cost of children; Fertility; Irrigation.
    JEL: C12 C13 C14 J12 J13 O12
    Date: 2019
  5. By: Paola Giuliano; Andrea Matranga
    Abstract: The use of historical data has become a standard tool in economics, serving three main purposes: to examine the influence of the past on current economic outcomes; to use unique natural experiments to test modern economic theories; and to use modern economic theories to refine our understanding of important historical events. In this chapter, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the types of historical data most commonly used in economic research and discuss a variety of issues that they raise, such as the constant change in national and administrative borders; the reshuffling of ethnic groups due to migration, colonialism, natural disasters, and many other forces. We also point out which methodological advances allow economists to overcome or minimize these problems.
    JEL: N0
    Date: 2020–10

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