nep-dem New Economics Papers
on Demographic Economics
Issue of 2021‒10‒04
six papers chosen by
Héctor Pifarré i Arolas
Universitat Pompeu Fabra

  1. Economics of Marriage Bars By Irene Mosca; Robert E. Wright
  2. Women’s work and wages in the sixteenth-century and Sweden’s position in the “Little divergence” By Molinder, Jakob; Pihl, Christopher
  3. A radically simple way to monitor life expectancy By Kashnitsky, Ilya; Raksha, Alexei; Aburto, José Manuel; Schöley, Jonas; Vaupel, James W
  4. The Puzzle of Falling US Birth Rates Since the Great Recession By Melissa Schettini Kearney; Phillip B. Levine; Luke W. Pardue
  5. The Initial Effects of the Expanded Child Tax Credit on Material Hardship By Zachary Parolin; Elizabeth Ananat; Sophie M. Collyer; Megan Curran; Christopher Wimer
  6. Effect of the Jamaica Early Childhood Stimulation Intervention on Labor Market Outcomes at Age 31 By Paul Gertler; James J. Heckman; Rodrigo Pinto; Susan M. Chang; Sally Grantham-McGregor; Christel Vermeersch; Susan Walker; Amika Wright

  1. By: Irene Mosca (Department of Economics, Maynooth University.); Robert E. Wright (Adam Smith Business School and School of Education, University of Glasgow, Glasgow,UK)
    Abstract: A Marriage Bar is the requirement that women working in certain jobs must leave that job when they marry. In the twentieth century, Marriage Bars were not unusual internationally. In the late 1800s to early 1900s, legislative provisions that required women to resign at marriage were introduced in several countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, Ireland, the Netherlands and the UK. Spill-overs to jobs not strictly covered by the Marriage Bar were also common. This chapter critically reviews, from an economics perspective, the background, the history and the impacts of Marriage Bars. This chapter has four aims. The first is to summarise the arguments provided by government officials and employers to justify both the introduction and the retention of Marriage Bars. The second is to provide a cross-country comparison of Marriage Bars. The third is to investigate the potential impacts of the Marriage Bar on women’s behavior with respect to employment, marriage and education. The fourth is to highlight potential avenues for future research. Although Marriage Bars do not exist anymore, they are still a serious topic of current debate. Much more can be learned about important topics, such as discrimination, from carrying out research focused on Marriage Bars
    Keywords: Marriage Bar: international; women; behavior
    JEL: J2 J4 J7
    Date: 2021
  2. By: Molinder, Jakob (Department of Economic History, Uppsala University); Pihl, Christopher (Department of History, Uppsala University)
    Abstract: We use a unique source from the Swedish royal demesnes to examine the work and relative wages of women in sixteenth century Sweden, an economic laggard in the Early Modern period. The source pertains to workers hired on yearly contracts, a type more representative for historical labour markets than day-labour on large construction sites, and allows us to observe directly the food consumed by workers. We speak to the debate on the “Little Divergence” within Europe as women’s work and gender differentials in pay is a key indicator of women’s relative autonomy and seen as a cause for the economic ascendency of the North Sea region during the period. We find small gender differentials among both unskilled and skilled workers, indicating that Sweden was a part of the “golden age” for women. We argue that despite superficial equality, women’s economic outlooks were restrained in many other ways – including their access to higher skilled work and jobs in the expanding parts of the economy – adding important nuance to the discussion about the relationship between women’s social position and economic growth in the Early Modern period.
    Keywords: womens work; wages; little divergence; Sweden; gender gap; Early Modern period
    JEL: J21 J31 N00 N33
    Date: 2021–09–14
  3. By: Kashnitsky, Ilya (University of Southern Denmark); Raksha, Alexei; Aburto, José Manuel; Schöley, Jonas; Vaupel, James W
    Abstract: NOTE: this is an early registration of the research idea and findings in form of slides for a talk presented at EAPS Mort workshop on 2021-09-22 (video: Period Life Expectancy is the key summary measure of current mortality. Elimination of the direct influence of population age structure allows to meaningfully compare mortality levels and changes across the populations and over time. Calculation of life expectancy demands high quality detailed data on death and population counts disaggregated by sex and age. Such data is only available for the more developed countries. Moreover, even in the most developed countries, it becomes available with a considerable time lag. And for the majority of countries across the world timely and high quality deaths statistics is not available. In situations of mortality shocks such as the COVID–19 pandemic near real time mortality level comparisons are crucial. Building on the studied regularities of human mortality, we offer a method of reliable life expectancy short-casting based only on the time series of its previous values and the time series of total deaths counts observed in the population, not disaggregated by sex and age. The radical simplicity of the method allows to monitor changes in life expectancy in near real time, if time disaggregated (daily, weekly, or monthly) total death counts are available.
    Date: 2021–09–24
  4. By: Melissa Schettini Kearney; Phillip B. Levine; Luke W. Pardue
    Abstract: This paper documents a set of facts about the dramatic decline in birth rates in the United States between 2007 and 2020 and explores possible explanations. The overall reduction in the birth rate reflects declines across many groups of women, including women who differ by race and ethnicity, age, and level of education. The Great Recession contributed to the decline in the early part of this period, but we are unable to identify any other economic, policy, or social factor that has changed since 2007 that is responsible for much of the decline beyond that. Mechanically, the falling birth rate can be attributed to changes in birth patterns across recent cohorts of women moving through childbearing age. We conjecture that the “shifting priorities” of more recent cohorts, reflecting changes in preferences for having children, aspirations for life, and parenting norms, may be responsible. We conclude with a brief discussion about the societal consequences for a declining birth rate and what the United States might do about it.
    JEL: I18 J13
    Date: 2021–09
  5. By: Zachary Parolin; Elizabeth Ananat; Sophie M. Collyer; Megan Curran; Christopher Wimer
    Abstract: The transformation of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) into a more generous, inclusive monthly payment marks a historic (temporary) shift in U.S. treatment of low-income families. To investigate the initial impact of these payments, we apply a series of difference-in-difference estimates using Census Household Pulse Survey microdata collected from April 14 through August 16, 2021. Our findings offer three primary conclusions regarding the initial effects of the monthly CTC. First, payments strongly reduced food insufficiency: the initial payments led to a 7.5 percentage point (25 percent) decline in food insufficiency among low-income households with children. Second, the effects on food insufficiency are concentrated among families with 2019 pre-tax incomes below $35,000, and the CTC strongly reduces food insufficiency among low-income Black, Latino, and White families alike. Third, increasing the CTC coverage rate would be required in order for material hardship to be reduced further. Self-reports suggest the lowest-income households were less likely than higher-income families to receive the first CTC payments. As more children receive the benefit in future months, material hardship may decline further. Even with imperfect coverage, however, our findings suggest that the first CTC payments were largely effective at reducing food insufficiency among low-income families with children.
    JEL: H53 I3 I38 J13
    Date: 2021–09
  6. By: Paul Gertler; James J. Heckman; Rodrigo Pinto; Susan M. Chang; Sally Grantham-McGregor; Christel Vermeersch; Susan Walker; Amika Wright
    Abstract: We report the labor market effects of the Jamaica Early Childhood Stimulation intervention at age 31. The study is a small-sample randomized early childhood education stimulation intervention targeting stunted children living in the poor neighborhoods of Kingston, Jamaica. Implemented in 1987-1989, treatment consisted of a two-year home-based intervention designed to improve nutrition and the quality of mother-child interactions to foster cognitive, language and psycho-social skills. The original sample is 127 stunted children between 9 and 24 months old. Our study is able to track and interview 75% of the original sample 30 years after the intervention, both still living in Jamaica and migrated abroad. We find large and statistically significant effects on income and schooling; the treatment group had 43% higher hourly wages and 37% higher earnings than the control group. This is a substantial increase over the treatment effect estimated for age 22 where we observed a 25% increase in earnings. The Jamaican Study is a rare case of a long-term follow up for an early childhood development (ECD) intervention implemented in a less-developed country. Our results confirm large economic returns to an early childhood intervention that targeted disadvantaged families living in poverty in the poor neighborhoods of Jamaica. The Jamaican intervention is being replicated around the world. Our analysis provides justification for expanding ECD interventions targeting disadvantaged children living in poor countries around the world.
    JEL: C31 I21 J13
    Date: 2021–09

This nep-dem issue is ©2021 by Héctor Pifarré i Arolas. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.