nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2008‒12‒01
twelve papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. A Comparison of the Poverty Impact of Transfers, Taxes and Market Income across Five OECD Countries By Bibi, Sami; Duclos, Jean-Yves
  2. Luther and the Girls: Religious Denomination and the Female Education Gap in 19th Century Prussia By Becker, Sascha O.; Woessmann, Ludger
  3. Testing for Poverty Dominance: An Application to Canada By Chen, Wen-Hao; Duclos, Jean-Yves
  5. Height, Health and Cognitive Function at Older Ages By Anne Case; Christina Paxson
  6. Height, health, and inequality: the distribution of adult heights in India By Angus Deaton
  7. Job Loss and the Decline in Job Security in the United States By Henry S. Farber
  8. Job Search and Unemployment Insurance: New Evidence from Time Use Data By Alan B. Krueger; Andreas Mueller
  9. Education for the Third Industrial Revolution By Alan S. Blinder
  10. Price trends in India and their implications for measuring poverty By Angus Deaton
  11. Are Mixed Neighborhoods Always Unstable?: Two-Sided and One Sided Tipping By David Card; Alexandre Mas; Jesse Rothstein
  12. National Time Accounting: The Currency of Life By Alan B. Krueger; Daniel Kahneman; David Schkade; Norbert Schwarz; Arthur A. Stone

  1. By: Bibi, Sami (Université Laval); Duclos, Jean-Yves (Université Laval)
    Abstract: This paper compares the poverty reduction impact of income sources, taxes and transfers across five OECD countries. Since the estimation of that impact can depend on the order in which the various income sources are introduced into the analysis, it is done by using the Shapley value. Estimates of the poverty reduction impact are presented in a normalized and un-normalized fashion, in order to take into account the total as well as the per dollar impacts. The methodology is applied to data from the Luxembourg Income Study (LIS) database.
    Keywords: poverty reduction, transfers, taxes, Shapley value, OECD countries
    JEL: D31 I32 I38
    Date: 2008–11
  2. By: Becker, Sascha O. (University of Stirling); Woessmann, Ludger (Ifo Institute for Economic Research)
    Abstract: Martin Luther urged each town to have a girls' school so that girls would learn to read the Gospel, evoking a surge of building girls' schools in Protestant areas. Using county- and town-level data from the first Prussian census of 1816, we show that a larger share of Protestants decreased the gender gap in basic education. This result holds when using only the exogenous variation in Protestantism due to a county's or town's distance to Wittenberg, the birthplace of the Reformation. Similar results are found for the gender gap in literacy among the adult population in 1871.
    Keywords: gender gap, education, Protestantism
    JEL: I21 J16 N33 Z12
    Date: 2008–11
  3. By: Chen, Wen-Hao (Statistics Canada); Duclos, Jean-Yves (Université Laval)
    Abstract: The paper proposes and applies statistical tests for poverty dominance that check for whether poverty comparisons can be made robustly over ranges of poverty lines and classes of poverty indices. This helps provide both normative and statistical confidence in establishing poverty rankings across distributions. The tests, which can take into account the complex sampling procedures that are typically used by statistical agencies to generate household-level surveys, are implemented using the Canadian Survey of Labour and Income Dynamics (SLID) for 1996, 1999 and 2002. Although the yearly cumulative distribution functions cross at the lower tails of the distributions, the more recent years tend to dominate earlier years for a relatively wide range of poverty lines. Failing to take into account SLID's sampling variability (as is sometimes done) can inflate significantly one's confidence in ranking poverty. Taking into account SLID's complex sampling design (as has not been done before) can also decrease substantially the range of poverty lines over which a poverty ranking can be inferred.
    Keywords: stochastic dominance, empirical likelihood, Canada, income distribution
    JEL: C12 C15 D31 D63 I30
    Date: 2008–11
  4. By: Anne Case (Princeton University); Christina Paxson (Princeton University); Mahnaz Islam (Princeton University)
    Abstract: We use nine waves of the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS) to investigate the large labor market height premium observed in the BHPS, where each inch of height is associated with a 1.5 percent increase in wages, for both men and women. We find that half of the premium can be explained by the association between height and educational attainment among BHPS participants. Of the remaining premium, half can be explained by taller individuals selecting into higher status occupations and industries. These effects are consistent with our earlier findings that taller individuals on average have greater cognitive function, which manifests in greater educational attainment, and better labor market opportunities.
    JEL: I1 J3
    Date: 2008–05
  5. By: Anne Case (Princeton University); Christina Paxson (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Research across a number of disciplines has highlighted the role of early life health and circumstance in determining health and economic outcomes at older ages. Nutrition in utero and in infancy may set the stage for the chronic disease burden that an individual will face in middle age (David J. Barker, 1998; Barker et al. 1989; Johann Eriksson et al. 2001). Childhood health may also have significant effects on economic outcomes in adulthood. Collectively, a set of childhood health measures can account for a large fraction of the explained variance in employment and social status observed among a British cohort followed from birth into adulthood (Anne Case, Angela Fertig and Christina Paxson 2005).
    Date: 2008–01
  6. By: Angus Deaton (Princeton University)
    Abstract: This paper explores the relationship between adult heights and the distribution of income across populations of individuals. There is a long literature that examines the relationship between mean adult heights and living standards. If adult height is set by the balance between food intake and charges to disease in early childhood, it is informative about economic and epidemiological conditions in childhood. Because taller populations are better-off, more productive, and live longer, the relationship between childhood conditions and adult height has become an important focus in the study of the relationship between health and wealth. Here I follow one of the tributaries of this main stream. A relationship between income and height at the individual level has implications for the effects of income inequality on the distribution of heights. These relationships parallel, but are somewhat more concrete than, the various relationships between income inequality and health that have been debated in the economic and epidemiological literatures, Richard G. Wilkinson (1996), Angus Deaton (2003).
    Date: 2008–01
  7. By: Henry S. Farber (Princeton University)
    Abstract: Job tenure and the incidence of long-term employment have declined sharply in the United States. However, rates of job loss as measured by the Displaced Workers Survey (DWS), while cyclical, have not increased. This presents a puzzle that has several potential solutions. One is that, while overall rates of job loss have not increased, rates of job loss for high-tenure workers have increased relative to those for lower-tenure workers. Another is that there has been an increase in rates of job change that is not captured in the limited questions asked in the DWS. Some of this seemingly voluntary job change (e.g., the taking of an offered buy-out) may reflect the kind of worker displacement that the DWS was meant to capture but is not reported as such by workers. In this study, I address these issues by 1) documenting the decline in job tenure and longterm employment using data from various supplements to the Current Population Survey (CPS) from 1973-2006, 2) documenting the lack of secular change in rates of job loss using data from the DWS from 1984-2006, and 3) exploring the extent to which the observed patterns result from a relative increase in rates of job loss among high-tenure workers. I find that the decline in job tenure and long-term employment is restricted to the private sector and that there has been some increase in job tenure and long-term employment in the public sector. I find no secular changes in relative rates of job loss in either sector that could account for these trends. Reconciliation of the trends in the tenure and displacement data must lie with a failure to identify all relevant displacement in the DWS.
    Date: 2008–06
  8. By: Alan B. Krueger (Princeton University); Andreas Mueller (Stockholm University)
    Abstract: This paper provides new evidence on job search intensity of the unemployed in the U.S., modeling job search intensity as time allocated to job search activities. The main findings are: 1) the average unemployed worker in the U.S. devotes about 41 minutes to job search on weekdays, which is substantially more than his or her European counterpart; 2) workers who expect to be recalled by their previous employer search substantially less than the average unemployed worker; 3) across the 50 states and D.C., job search is inversely related to the generosity of unemployment benefits, with an elasticity between -1.6 and -2.2; 4) the predicted wage is a strong predictor of time devoted to job search, with an elasticity in excess of 2.5; 5) job search intensity for those eligible for Unemployment Insurance (UI) increases prior to benefit exhaustion; 6) time devoted to job search is fairly constant regardless of unemployment duration for those who are ineligible for UI. A nonparametric Monte Carlo technique suggests that the relationship between job search effort and the duration of unemployment for a cross-section of job seekers is only slightly biased by length-based sampling.
    Keywords: unemployment, unemployment insurance, job search, time use, unemployment benefits, inequality
    JEL: J64 J65
    Date: 2008–08
  9. By: Alan S. Blinder (Princeton University)
    Abstract: At the risk of sounding like a crass economist, I want to assert at the outset that one major purpose of the K-12 educational system is “vocational” in the broad sense. Specifically, the K-12 system is a mechanism for preparing cadres of 18-year-olds (many of whom will get some higher education first) to perform the tasks needed and remunerated by the U.S. job market (or of being easily trained to do so). To be sure, this narrowly economic purpose of mass public education is not the only reason to educate America’s youth; an educated citizenry presumably has other social benefits as well. But I believe it is an important purpose and, in any case, it is the perspective that guides this essay. Any reader who does not accept this initial premise can stop reading right now. My second, and much more controversial, premise is that the needs of the U.S. economy are changing (that’s not the controversial part) in ways that are at least somewhat predictable (that is the controversial part). To be sure, I am not foolish enough to believe that we can predict in detail the mix of jobs that will be available in the United States in, say, 2028 or 2038 and then fine-tune the educational system to meet those demands. But I think at least two broad trends are clearly foreseeable.
    Date: 2008–02
  10. By: Angus Deaton (Princeton University)
    Abstract: The Indian national sample surveys collect data on the unit values of a large number of foods which can be used to compute price index numbers that can be compared with the official national price indexes, the Consumer Price Index for Agricultural Labourers (CPIAL) for rural India, and the Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers (CPIIW) for urban India. Over the five years from 1999–2000 to 2004–05, the food component of the CPIAL understated the rate of food price inflation. This overstatement is likely attributable to the use of long outdated weights (from 1983), and the resultant overweighting of cereals, particularly coarse cereals, whose prices fell relative to other foods. The overall weight of food in the CPIAL is also too large, so that the growth in the general CPIAL was understated during this period when food prices fell relative to nonfood prices. Under conservative assumptions, I calculate that the 5 year growth in the reported CPIAL of 10.6 percent should have been 14.3 percent. Indian poverty lines are held constant in real terms and are updated using the food and non-food components of the official indices weighted by the food shares of households near the poverty line. Because these weights come from a 1973–4 survey, food is heavily over weighted for the contemporary poor, and the nominal poverty lines are understated, both because the CPIAL food index is understated, and because too much weight is assigned to food in a period when food prices have been falling relative to nonfood prices. As a result, and ignoring other problems with the counts (doubtful interstate and intersectoral price indexes and the growing discrepancy between surveys and national accounts), the official poverty counts for rural India in 2004–5 are too low; the official headcount ratio of 28.3 percent should be closer to 31 percent; at current rates of rural poverty reduction, this eliminates more than three years of progress. More generally, it is clear that the weights used for price indexes should be updated more frequently than is presently the case, something that could be straightforwardly done using India’s regular system of household expenditure surveys.
    Date: 2008–01
  11. By: David Card (UC Berkeley); Alexandre Mas (UC Berkeley); Jesse Rothstein (Princeton University)
    Abstract: A great deal of urban policy depends on the possibly of creating stable, economically and racially mixed neighborhoods. Many social interaction models - including the seminal Schelling (1971) model - have the feature that the only stable equilibria are fully segregated. These models suggest that if home-buyers have preferences over their neighborhoods' racial composition, a neighborhood with mixed racial composition is inherently unstable, in the sense that a small change in the composition sets off a dynamic process that converges to 0% or 100% minority share. Card, Mas, and Rothstein (2008) outline an alternative "one-sided" tipping model in which neighborhoods with a minority share below a critical threshold are potentially stable, but those that exceed the threshold rapidly shift to 100% minority composition. In this paper we examine the racial dynamics of Census tracts in major metropolitian areas over the period from 1970 to 2000, focusing on the question of whether tipping is "two-sided" or "one-sided." The evidence suggests that tipping behavior is one-sided, and that neighborhoods with minority shares below the tipping point attract both white and minority residents.
    Date: 2008–07
  12. By: Alan B. Krueger (Princeton University and NBER); Daniel Kahneman (Princeton University); David Schkade (University of California, San Diego); Norbert Schwarz (University of Michigan); Arthur A. Stone (Stony Brook University)
    Abstract: This monograph proposes a new approach for measuring features of society’s subjective well-being, based on time allocation and affective experience. We call this approach National Time Accounting (NTA). National Time Accounting is a set of methods for measuring, comparing and analyzing how people spend and experience their time -- across countries, over historical time, or between groups of people within a country at a given time. The approach is based on evaluated time use, or the flow of emotional experience during daily activities. After reviewing evidence on the validity of subjective well-being measures, we present and evaluate diary-based survey techniques designed to measure individuals’ emotional experiences and time use. We illustrate NTA with: (1) a new cross-sectional survey on time use and emotional experience for a representative sample of 4,000 Americans; (2) historical data on the amount of time devoted to various activities in the United States since 1965; and (3) a comparison of time use and wellbeing in the United States and France. In our applications, we focus mainly on the Uindex, a measure of the percentage of time that people spend in an unpleasant state, defined as an instance in which the most intense emotion is a negative one. The U-index helps to overcome some of the limitations of interpersonal comparisons of subjective well-being. National Time Accounting strikes us as a fertile area for future research because of advances in subjective measurement and because time use data are now regularly collected in many countries.
    Date: 2008–03

This nep-ltv issue is ©2008 by Maximo Rossi. 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.