nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2007‒05‒19
six papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. Relative status and well-being: evidence from U.S. suicide deaths By Mary C. Daly; Daniel J. Wilson; Norman J. Johnson
  2. Attitudes to Family Policy Arrangements in Relation to Attitudes to Family and division of Labour between Genders By Valentova, Marie
  3. Modern Economic Growth and Quality of Life: Cross Sectional and Time Series Evidence By Richard A. Easterlin; Laura Angelescu
  4. Ethnic Inequality in Canada: Economic and Health Dimensions By Ellen M. Gee; Karen M. Kobayashi; Steven Prus
  5. Occupational Language Requirements and the Value of English in the US Labor Market By Barry R Chiswick; Paul W Miller
  6. Matching Language Proficiency to Occupation: The Effect on Immigrants' Earnings By Barry R Chiswick; Paul W Miller

  1. By: Mary C. Daly; Daniel J. Wilson; Norman J. Johnson
    Abstract: This paper empirically assesses the theory of interpersonal income comparison using individual level data on suicide deaths in the United States. We model suicide as a choice variable, conditional on exogenous risk factors, reflecting an individual's assessment of current and expected future utility. Our empirical analysis considers whether suicide risk is systematically related to the income of others, holding own income and other individual factors fixed. We estimate proportional hazards and probit models of the suicide hazard using two separate and independent data sets: (1) the National Longitudinal Mortality Study and (2) the Detailed Mortality Files combined with the 5 percent Public Use Micro Sample of the 1990 decennial census. Results from both data sources show that, controlling for own income and individual characteristics, individual suicide risk rises with reference group income. This result holds for reference groups defined broadly, such as by county, and more narrowly by county and one demographic marker (e.g., age, sex, race). These findings are robust to alternative specifications and cannot be explained by geographic variation in cost of living, access to emergency medical care, mismeasurement of deaths by suicide, or by bias due to endogeneity of own income. Our results confirm findings using self-reported happiness data and are consistent with models of utility featuring "external habit" or "Keeping Up with the Joneses" preferences.
    Keywords: Income distribution
    Date: 2007
  2. By: Valentova, Marie (CEPS/INSTEAD)
    Abstract: The main aims of the paper are to analyse and compare attitudes of inhabitants of eleven European countries toward the state family policy arrangements in the light of people’s attitudes regarding family and marriage, and division of labour between men and women; and to identify which countries cluster together regarding such attitudes. In particular we test whether respondents’ attitudes toward the above phenomena differ significantly between EU-15 countries and new member states. The analysis is based on the data coming from two international surveys: International policy acceptance study 2000-2003 (IPPAS) and International social survey program 2002 (ISSP).
    Keywords: attitudes; family policy ; family ; gender division of labour
    Date: 2007–05
  3. By: Richard A. Easterlin (University of Southern California and IZA); Laura Angelescu (University of Southern California)
    Abstract: To what extent are improvements in quality of life (material living levels, health, education, political and civil rights, happiness, and the like) associated with economic growth? International comparisons of quality of life (QoL) conditions almost always point to a strong positive association with real GDP per capita. Historical experience, however, frequently belies the results of these comparisons. More often than not the timing of various improvements in QoL, material living levels excepted, is different from that in real GDP per capita - some indicators preceding, others following. Moreover, the sequence of improvements in various aspects of QoL is not always the same from one part of the world to another. And sometimes, as in the case of happiness and life satisfaction, QoL indicators remain unchanged despite a doubling or more of real GDP per capita. In contrast to the results of simple international point-of-time comparisons, history suggests that improvements in many realms of life are not an automatic result of economic growth.
    Keywords: quality of life, well-being, economic growth, international and historical comparisons
    JEL: N30 O57 D60 Y1
    Date: 2007–04
  4. By: Ellen M. Gee; Karen M. Kobayashi; Steven Prus
    Abstract: This study examines ethnic based differences in economic and health status. We combine existing literature with our analysis of data from the Canadian Census and National Population Health Survey. If a given sub-topic is well researched, we summarize the findings; if, on the other hand, less is known, we present data placing them in the context of whatever literature does exist. Our findings are consistent with existing literature on ethnic inequalities in Canada. Recent immigrants with a mother tongue other than English or French are among the most economically disadvantaged in Canadian society, though the results vary depending on gender and ethnic background. In fact economic inequality according to type of occupation can be attributed to gender rather than ethnicity; that is, the Canadian labour force continues to be more gender- than ethnically-differentiated. Yet recent immigrants, especially from Asia, are advantaged in health outcomes compared to Canadian-born persons – the “healthy immigrant” effect. Interestingly they are less likely to report having a physical check-up and, for women (especially Asian-born women), a mammogram within the last year compared to their Canadian-born counterparts. Given the significance of both gender and ethnicity as predictors of well-being, future research should examine the intersection between the two identity markers and their relationship to social inequality.
    Keywords: ethnicity, immigration, language, gender, income, occupation, health
    JEL: I18 J15
    Date: 2007–05
  5. By: Barry R Chiswick (Department of Economics, The University of Illinois at Chicago and The IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor); Paul W Miller (UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia)
    Abstract: This paper is concerned with the English language requirements (both level and importance) of occupations in the United States, as measured by the O*NET database. These scores are linked to microdata on employed adult (aged 25 to 64) males, both native born and foreign born, as reported in the 2000 Census, one percent sample. Working in an occupation that requires greater English language skills, whether measured by the level of these skills or the importance of English for performing the job, has a large effect on earnings among the native born, and an even larger effect among the foreign born. This effect is reduced by 50 percent, but is still large, when worker characteristics, including their own English language skills, are held constant. Earnings increase with the respondent’s own proficiency in English, with the English proficiency required for the occupation, and when those with high levels of proficiency work in jobs requiring English language skills (interaction effect). There is, therefore, a strong economic incentive for the matching of worker’s English skills and the occupation’s requirements, and this matching does tend to occur in the labor market.
    Keywords: English Language, Earnings, Occupation, Immigrants, Schooling
    JEL: J24 J31 J62 F22
    Date: 2007
  6. By: Barry R Chiswick (Department of Economics, The University of Illinois at Chicago and The IZA-Institute for the Study of Labor); Paul W Miller (UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia)
    Abstract: This paper analyzes the effect on earnings of the matching of English language skills to occupational requirements. It uses data from the Occupational Information Network (O*NET) database and a “Realized Matches” procedure to quantify expected levels of English skills in each of over 500 occupations in the US Census. Earnings data from the 2000 US Census for foreign-born adult male workers are then examined in relation to these occupational English requirements. The analyses show that earnings are related to correct matching of an individual’s language skills and that of his occupation. Moreover, the findings are robust with respect to a range of measurement and specification issues. Immigrant settlement policy may have a role to play in matching immigrants to jobs that use their language skills most effectively.
    Keywords: English Language, Earnings, Immigrants, Schooling
    JEL: J24 J31 F22
    Date: 2007

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