nep-dem New Economics Papers
on Demographic Economics
Issue of 2021‒04‒26
three papers chosen by
Héctor Pifarré i Arolas
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

  1. The Great Transition: Kuznets Facts for Family-Economists By Jeremy Greenwood; Nezih Guner; Ricardo Marto
  2. Earnings instability and child protection: Evidence from state administrative data By Cai, Julie Yixia
  3. Home, sweet home? The impact of working from home on the division of unpaid work during the COVID-19 lockdown By Derndorfer, Judith; Disslbacher, Franziska; Lechinger, Vanessa; Mär, Katharina; Six, Eva

  1. By: Jeremy Greenwood; Nezih Guner; Ricardo Marto
    Abstract: The 20th century beheld a dramatic transformation of the family. Some Kuznets style facts regarding structural change in the family are presented. Over the course of the 20th century in the United States fertility declined, educational attainment waxed, housework fell, leisure increased, jobs shifted from blue to white collar, and marriage waned. These trends are also observed in the cross-country data. A model is developed, and then calibrated, to address the trends in the US data. The calibration procedure is closely connected to the underlying economic logic. Three drivers of the great transition are considered: neutral technological progress, skilled-biased technological change, and drops in the price of labor-saving household durables.
    JEL: D10 E13 J10 O10
    Date: 2021–04
  2. By: Cai, Julie Yixia
    Abstract: Given previous inconclusive results on unemployment and involvement with the child welfare system (CPS) and the growing attention on precarious labor market conditions, this article relies on administrative data on wage and social benefits from the state of Wisconsin to investigate the relationship between employment instability and subsequent child maltreatment investigations. Using an event history approach, this study analyzes earnings instability—measured by one-time wage shocks, cumulative wage shocks, and stable earnings duration—on child maltreatment risk. It also pays attention to the role of safety net programs on buffering the risk of adverse wage shocks on child welfare involvement. I find that experiencing a negative earnings shock of 30% or more increases the likelihood of CPS involvement by approximately 18%. The effect diminishes and becomes nonsignificant when an earnings decline is compensated by benefit receipt. Each additional earnings drop is associated with a 15% greater likelihood of CPS involvement. Each consecutive quarter with stable income is associated with 5% lower probability of a CPS report. The results are more pronounced for abuse than neglect and are marginally significant for neglect reports. The findings suggest that accessing sufficient social benefits as supplemental income when negative earnings shocks occur serves to effectively buffer against the risk of child maltreatment, particularly among families with young children. This study confirms income support as an important instrument to reduce child maltreatment risk; it indicates that policies aimed at boosting income and stabilizing low-income family economics could substantially increase children’s safety and well-being.
    Date: 2021–04–15
  3. By: Derndorfer, Judith; Disslbacher, Franziska; Lechinger, Vanessa; Mär, Katharina; Six, Eva
    Abstract: A lockdown implies a shift from the public to the private sphere, and from market to non-market production, thereby increasing the volume of unpaid work. Already before the pandemic, unpaid work was disproportionately borne by women. This paper studies the effect of working from home for pay (WFH), due to a lockdown, on the change in the division of housework and childcare within couple households. While previous studies on the effect of WFH on the reconciliation of work and family life and the division of labour within the household suffered from selection bias, we are able to identify this effect by drawing upon the shock of the first COVID-19 lockdown in Austria. The corresponding legal measures left little choice over WFH. In any case, WFH is exogenous, conditional on a small set of individual and household characteristics we control for. We employ data from a survey on the gendered aspects of the lockdown. The dataset includes detailed information on time use during the lockdown and on the quality and experience of WFH. Uniquely, this survey data also includes information on the division, and not only magnitude, of unpaid work within households. Austria is an interesting case in this respect as it is characterized by very conservative gender norms. The results reveal that the probability of men taking on a larger share of housework increases if men are WFH alone or together with their female partner. By contrast, the involvement of men in childcare increased only in the event that the female partner was not able to WFH. Overall, the burden of childcare, and particularly homeschooling, was disproportionately borne by women.
    Date: 2021–04–21

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