nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2008‒07‒14
eight papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. Do Interest Groups Affect US Immigration Policy? By Facchini, Giovanni; Mayda, Anna Maria; Mishra, Prachi
  2. Migration, the Quality of the Labour Force and Economic Inequality By Kahanec, Martin; Zimmermann, Klaus F
  3. A Note on the High Stability of Happiness : The Minimal Effects of a Nuclear Catastrophe on Life Satisfaction By Eva M. Berger
  4. Examining the Gender Wealth Gap in Germany By Eva M. Sierminska; Joachim R. Frick; Markus M. Grabka
  5. On gender gaps and self-fulfilling expectations: Theory, policies and some empirical evidence By Sara de la Rica; Juan José Dolado; Cecilia García-Peñalosa
  6. The Rise in Obesity across the Atlantic: An Economic Perspective By Brunello, Giorgio; Michaud, Pierre-Carl; Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna
  7. The "Negative" Assimilation of Immigrants: A Special Case By Chiswick, Barry R.; Miller, Paul W.
  8. The Economics of Language: An Introduction and Overview By Chiswick, Barry R.

  1. By: Facchini, Giovanni; Mayda, Anna Maria; Mishra, Prachi
    Abstract: While anecdotal evidence suggests that interest groups play a key role in shaping immigration policy, there is no systematic empirical analysis of this issue. In this paper, we construct an industry-level dataset for the United States, by combining information on the number of temporary work visas with data on lobbying activity associated with immigration. We find robust evidence that both pro- and anti-immigration interest groups play a statistically significant and economically relevant role in shaping migration across sectors. Barriers to migration are lower in sectors in which business interest groups incur larger lobby expenditures and higher in sectors where labour unions are more important.
    Keywords: Immigration; Immigration Policy; Interest Groups; Political Economy
    JEL: F22 J61
    Date: 2008–07
  2. By: Kahanec, Martin; Zimmermann, Klaus F
    Abstract: Mobility of workers involves flows of labour, human capital and other production factors and thus contributes to a more efficient allocation of resources. Besides these effects on allocative efficiency, migrant flows affect relative wages and also change the international and national distribution of skills and thereby equality in the receiving society. This paper suggests that skilled immigration promotes economic equality in advanced economies under standard conditions. The context is theoretically explained in a core model and empirically documented using unique data from the WIID database and OECD.
    Keywords: ethnicity; Gini-coefficient; human capital; income distribution; Inequality; migration; minority; skill allocation
    JEL: D33 E25 F22 J15 J61 O15
    Date: 2008–07
  3. By: Eva M. Berger
    Abstract: Using life satisfaction as a direct measure of individual utility has become popular in the empirical economic literature. In this context, it is crucial to know what circumstances or changes the measure is sensitive to. Is life satisfaction a volatile concept that is affected by minor changes in life circumstances? Or is it a reliable measure of personal happiness? This paper will analyze the impact of a catastrophe, namely the nuclear catastrophe of Chernobyl, on life satisfaction. I use longitudinal data from the German Socio-Economic Panel Study and especially information collected on a monthly basis which allows the researcher to study calendar effects. The following clear-cut results are found. While concern about the environment rose immediately after the nuclear incident, life satisfaction changed little. This suggests that although people were aware of the severity of the catastrophe, they did not feel that their individual well-being had been affected. This finding is highly relevant to the life satisfaction literature as it shows that the life satisfaction measure is very stable and robust against societal and global events. It is shown to predominantly reflect personal life circumstances like health, employment, income, and the family situation and this relationship is apparently not disturbed by global events. Thus, my results reinforce previous findings on the relationship between life satisfaction and individual life characteristics as the stability of their outcome measure is approved.
    Keywords: Subjective Well-Being, Happiness, Environmental Protection, Household Panel, SOEP
    JEL: I31 A12 A19
    Date: 2008
  4. By: Eva M. Sierminska; Joachim R. Frick; Markus M. Grabka
    Abstract: Welfare-oriented analyses of economic outcome measures such as income and wealth generally rest on the assumption of pooled and equally shared resources among all household members. Yet the lack of individual-level data hampers the distribution of income and wealth within the ousehold context. Based on unique individual-level wealth data from the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP), this paper challenges the implicit assumption of internal redistribution by considering an alternative definition of the aggregation unit and by controlling its effect on distribution and inequality analysis. We find empirical evidence for a significant gender wealth gap of about 30,000 euros in Germany, which amounts to almost 50,000 euros for married partners. Decomposition analyses reveal that this gap is mostly driven by differences in characteristics between men and women, the most important factor being the individual’s own income and labor market experience. However, this finding holds only for the upper part of the wealth distribution and can be shown only with non-parametric decomposition methods due to the mean orientation of the parametric Oaxaca-Blinder technique. Differences in the lower part of the wealth distribution appear to be driven mostly by the wealth function, i.e., the way in which women transform their characteristics into wealth.
    Keywords: Wealth gap, wealth inequality, gender, SOEP
    JEL: D13 D31 D69 I31
    Date: 2008
  5. By: Sara de la Rica; Juan José Dolado; Cecilia García-Peñalosa
    Abstract: This paper considers a simple model of self-fulfilling expectations that leads to a multiple equilibrium of gender gaps in wages and participation rates. Rather than resorting to moral hazard problems related to unobservable effort, like in most of the related literature, our model fully relies on statistical discrimination. If firms believe that women will quit their jobs more often than equally productive men when shocks affecting household chores take place, our model predicts that this belief will increase the wage gap in favour of men which, in turn, will increase the female share of housework and exacerbate lower female participation in the labour market. Hence, both effects lead to a gendered equilibrium with large gaps, even though an ungendered equilibrium with no gaps is feasible. We examine the effects of gender-based and gender-neutral subsidies and find that the latter are more effective in removing the gendered equilibrium. Empirical analysis based on a time use survey for Spain is provided to test most of the implications of the model.
    Date: 2008–07
  6. By: Brunello, Giorgio (University of Padova); Michaud, Pierre-Carl (RAND); Sanz-de-Galdeano, Anna (University of Girona)
    Abstract: We provide comparable evidence on the patterns and trends in obesity across the Atlantic and analyse whether there are economic rationales for public intervention to control obesity. We take into account equity issues as well as efficiency considerations, which are organized around three categories of market failures: productive inefficiencies, lack of information or rationality and health insurance externalities. We also calculate the long term financial consequences of current US and European obesity trends, and conclude with a brief review of current policies to reduce and prevent excessive body weight both in Europe and the US.
    Keywords: obesity, health care costs, efficiency, equity
    JEL: I1 D6
    Date: 2008–06
  7. By: Chiswick, Barry R. (University of Illinois at Chicago); Miller, Paul W. (University of Western Australia)
    Abstract: Research on the economic or labor market assimilation of immigrants has to date focused on the degree of improvement in their economic status with duration in the destination. This pattern has been found for all the immigrant receiving countries, time periods and data sets that have been studied. The theoretical underpinning for this finding is the international transferability of skills. This paper addresses whether positive assimilation will be found if skills are very highly transferable internationally. It outlines the conditions for “negative” assimilation in the context of the traditional immigration assimilation model, and examines the empirical relevance of the hypothesis using data on immigrants from the English-speaking developed countries (i.e., the UK, Ireland, Canada and Australia/New Zealand) to the United States. Comparisons with the native born are also presented to test whether the findings are sensitive to immigrant cohort quality effects. Even after controlling for cohort effects, “negative” assimilation (a decline in earnings with duration) is found for immigrants in the US from the English-speaking developed countries.
    Keywords: immigrants, earnings, assimilation
    JEL: J61 J31 F22
    Date: 2008–06
  8. By: Chiswick, Barry R. (University of Illinois at Chicago)
    Abstract: This paper provides an introduction and overview of my research on the Economics of Language. The approach is that language skills among immigrants and native-born linguistic minorities are a form of human capital. There are costs and benefits associated with this characteristic embodied in the person. The analysis focuses on the economic and demographic determinants of destination language proficiency among immigrants. This is based on Exposure, Efficiency and Economic Incentives (the three E’s) for proficiency. It also focuses on the labor market consequences (earnings) of proficiency for immigrants and native-born bilinguals. The empirical testing for the US, Canada, Australia, Israel and Bolivia is supportive of the theoretical models.
    Keywords: immigrants, language, bilingualism, human capital, earnings
    JEL: J15 J24 J31 J61
    Date: 2008–06

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