nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2009‒02‒14
nine papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. Spatial Filtering and Eigenvector Stability: Space-Time Models for German Unemployment Data By Roberto Patuelli; Daniel A. Griffith; Michael Tiefelsdorf; Peter Nijkamp
  2. On analysing the world distribution of income By Anthony B. Atkinson; Andrea Brandolini
  3. Human Capital, Economic Growth, and Regional Inequality in China By Belton Fleisher; Haizheng Li; Min-Qiang Zhao
  4. Gender Pay Gap and Quantile Regression in European Families By Nicodemo, Catia
  5. This Job Is 'Getting Old:' Measuring Changes in Job Opportunities Using Occupational Age Structure By Autor, David; Dorn, David
  6. Why Do Individuals Choose Self-Employment? By Dawson, Christopher; Henley, Andrew; Latreille, Paul L.
  7. Social Interaction and Sickness Absence By Lindbeck, Assar; Palme, Mårten; Persson, Mats
  8. The Developing World's Bulging (but Vulnerable) "Middle Class" By Ravallion, Martin
  9. "Long-Term Trends in the Levy Institute Measure of Economic Well-Being (LIMEW), United States, 1959-2004" By Edward N. Wolff; Ajit Zacharias; Thomas Masterson

  1. By: Roberto Patuelli (Institute for Economic Research (IRE), University of Lugano, Switzerland; The Rimini Centre for Economic Analysis (RCEA), Italy); Daniel A. Griffith (School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, USA); Michael Tiefelsdorf (School of Economic, Political and Policy Sciences, University of Texas at Dallas, USA); Peter Nijkamp (Department of Spatial Economics, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
    Abstract: Regions, independent of their geographic level of aggregation, are known to be interrelated partly due to their relative locations. Similar economic performance among regions can be attributed to proximity. Consequently, a proper understanding, and accounting, of spatial liaisons is needed in order to effectively forecast regional economic variables. Several spatial econometric techniques are available in the literature, which deal with the spatial autocorrelation in geographically-referenced data. The experiments carried out in this paper are concerned with the analysis of the spatial autocorrelation observed for unemployment rates in 439 NUTS-3 German districts. We employ a semi-parametric approach – spatial filtering – in order to uncover spatial patterns that are consistently significant over time. We first provide a brief overview of the spatial filtering method and illustrate the data set. Subsequently, we describe the empirical application carried out: that is, the spatial filtering analysis of regional unemployment rates in Germany. Furthermore, we exploit the resulting spatial filter as an explanatory variable in a panel modelling framework. Additional explanatory variables, such as average daily wages, are used in concurrence with the spatial filter. Our experiments show that the computed spatial filters account for most of the residual spatial autocorrelation in the data.
    Keywords: spatial filtering, eigenvectors, Germany, unemployment
    JEL: C33 E24 R12
    Date: 2009–01
  2. By: Anthony B. Atkinson (Nuffield College, Oxford); Andrea Brandolini (Bank of Italy)
    Abstract: This paper argues that consideration of world inequality should cause us to re-examine the key concepts underlying the welfare approach to the measurement of income inequality and the inter-relation between the measurement of inequality and the measurement of poverty. There are three reasons why we feel that a re-examination is necessary: (i) the extent of global income differences means that we cannot simply carry over the methods used at a national level; we need a more flexible measure; (ii) we have to reconcile measures of world inequality and world poverty; and (iii) we need to explore more fully the different ways in which measures may be relative or absolute. This leads us to propose a new measure, which (a) combines poverty and inequality, including provision for those who are concerned only with poverty, (b) incorporates different approaches to the measurement of inequality; and (c) allows the cost of inequality to be expressed in different ways. Applied to the world distribution for the period 1820-1992, the new measure provides different perspectives on the evolution of global inequality.
    Keywords: global income inequality, absolute vs. relative inequality, poverty, world citizens
    JEL: D31 C80
    Date: 2009–01
  3. By: Belton Fleisher (Department of Economics, Ohio State University); Haizheng Li (School of Economics, Georgia Institute of Technology); Min-Qiang Zhao (Department of Economics, Ohio State University)
    Abstract: We show how regional growth patterns in China depend on physical,, human, and infrastructure capital; foreign direct investment (FDI); and market reforms, especially the reforms that followed Deng Xiaoping’s South Trip in 1992 those that resulted from serious hardening of budget constraints of state enterprises around 1997. We find that FDI had a much larger effect on TFP growth before 1994 than after, and we attribute this to the encouragement of and increasing success of private and quasi-private enterprises. We find that human capital positively affects output per worker and productivity growth in our cross-provincial study. Moreover, we find both direct and indirect effects of human capital on TFP growth. The direct effect is hypothesized to come from domestic innovation activities, while the indirect impact is a spillover effect of human capital on TFP growth. We conduct cost-benefit analysis of hypothetical investments in human capital and infrastructure. We find that, while investment in infrastructure generates higher returns in the developed, eastern regions than in the interior, investing in human capital generates slightly higher or comparable returns in the interior regions. We conclude that human capital investment in less-developed areas can improve economic efficiency, neither investment strategy is a magic bullet for reducing China’s regional income disparities.
    JEL: O15 O18 O47 O53
    Date: 2008–08
  4. By: Nicodemo, Catia (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona)
    Abstract: In this paper we analyze the trend of the gender gap between wives and husbands for Mediterranean countries with a strong family tradition, using data from the European Household Panel (ECHP) of 2001 and the European Survey on Income and Living Conditions (EU-SILC) of 2006. In general, wives and husbands, when married, have the same characteristics but wives suffer from two types of discrimination with respect to husbands: a lower wage for the same work and a primary responsibility for children. This paper uses quantile regression and counterfactual decomposition methods to investigate whether a glass ceiling exists or if instead a sticky floor is more prevalent among European families over time (2001 and 2006). We correct for selectivity the unconditional wage distribution of married women and we show that the wage gap decomposition is different if we ignore self-selection. We find that the wage gap is positive in each country, and the greater part of it is composed of a discrimination effect, while the characteristics effect is small. In Mediterranean countries, wives suffer from the sticky floor effect, i.e. the gender gap is bigger at the bottom of distribution, while we can observe that the glass ceiling effect decreased in most countries in 2006.
    Keywords: gender pay gap, selection, quantile regression, counterfactual decomposition
    JEL: J16 J31 C2 C3
    Date: 2009–01
  5. By: Autor, David (MIT); Dorn, David (Boston University)
    Abstract: High- and low-wage occupations are expanding rapidly relative to middle-wage occupations in both the U.S. and the E.U. We study the reallocation of workers from middle-skill occupations towards the tails of the occupational skill distribution by analyzing changes in age structure within and across occupations. Because occupations typically expand by hiring young workers and contract by curtailing such hiring, we posit that growing occupations will get younger while shrinking occupations will 'get old.' After verifying this proposition, we apply this observation to local labor markets in the U.S. to test whether markets that were specialized in middle-skilled occupations in 1980 saw a differential movement of both older and younger workers into occupations at the tails of the skill distribution over the subsequent 25 years. Consistent with aggregate trends, employment in initially middle-skill-intensive labor markets hollowed-out between 1980 and 2005. Employment losses among non-college workers in the middle of the occupational skill distribution were almost entirely countered by employment growth in lower-tail occupations. For college workers, employment losses at the middle were offset in roughly equal measures by gains in the upper- and lower-tails of the occupational skill distribution. But gains at the upper-tail were almost entirely limited to young college workers. Consequently, older college workers are increasingly found in lower-skill, lower-paying occupations.
    Keywords: job polarization, occupational structure, age structure, local labor markets, technical change
    JEL: E24 J11 J21 J24
    Date: 2009–01
  6. By: Dawson, Christopher (University of Wales, Swansea); Henley, Andrew (University of Wales, Swansea); Latreille, Paul L. (University of Wales, Swansea)
    Abstract: This paper undertakes an analysis of the motivating factors cited by the self-employed in the UK as reasons for choosing self-employment. Very limited previous research has addressed the question of why individuals report that they have chosen self-employment. Two questions are addressed using large scale labour force survey data for the UK. The first concerns the extent to which the self-employed are self-employed out of necessity, opportunity, lifestyle decision or occupational choice. The second concerns the extent to which there is heterogeneity amongst the self-employed on the basis of the motivations that they report for choosing self-employment. Factor analysis reveals a number of different dimensions of entrepreneurship on the basis of stated motivation, but with no evidence that being 'forced' into entrepreneurship through economic necessity is a significant factor. Motivation towards entrepreneurship is therefore highly multidimensional. Multivariate regression analysis is employed using a method to control for self-selection into self-employment. This reveals significant differences between men and women, with women concerned more with lifestyle factors and less with financial gain. Market-directed 'opportunity' entrepreneurship is more strongly associated with higher educational attainment. Those joining family businesses appear not to value prior educational attainment. Public policy to promote entrepreneurship therefore needs to be tailored carefully to different groups.
    Keywords: self-employment, entrepreneurship, motivation, occupational choice
    JEL: L26 J24
    Date: 2009–01
  7. By: Lindbeck, Assar (Institute for International Economic Studies); Palme, Mårten (Dept. of Economics, Stockholm University); Persson, Mats (Institute for International Economic Studies)
    Abstract: Is the sickness absence of an individual affected by the sickness absence behavior of the neighbors? Well-known methodological problems, in particular the so-called reflection problem, arise when trying to answer such questions about group effects. Based on data from Sweden, we adopt several different approaches to solve these problems. Regardless of the approach chosen, we obtain statistically significant estimates indicating that group effects are important for individual sickness absence behavior.
    Keywords: Sick-pay insurance; work absence; moral hazard; reflection problem; social norms
    JEL: H56 I38 J22 Z13
    Date: 2009–01–30
  8. By: Ravallion, Martin (The World Bank)
    Abstract: The "developing world's middle class" is defined here as those who are not poor when judged by the median poverty line of developing countries, but are still poor by US standards. The "Western middle class" is defined as those who are not poor by US standards. Although barely 80 million people in the developing world entered the Western middle class over 1990-2002, economic growth and distributional shifts allowed an extra 1.2 billion people to join the developing world's middle class. Four-fifths came from Asia, and half from China. Most of the new entrants remained fairly close to poverty, with incomes now bunched up just above $2 a day. The vulnerability of this new middle class to aggregate economic contractions is evident in the fact that one in six people in the developing world live between $2 and $3 per day. Over time, the developing world has become more sharply divided between countries with a large middle class and those with a relatively small one, with Africa prominent in the latter group. Poor people in countries with smaller middle classes may well be more exposed to slowing economic growth.
    Keywords: Poverty; middle class; polarization; economic growth
    JEL: D31 I32 O15
    Date: 2009–02–03
  9. By: Edward N. Wolff; Ajit Zacharias; Thomas Masterson
    Abstract: We use here a new measure of household economic well-being called LIMEW. LIMEW is different in scope from the official United States Census Bureau measure of gross money income (MI) in that it includes taxes, noncash transfers, public consumption, income from wealth, and household production. We analyze trends in LIMEW from 1959 to 2004, and find that median LIMEW grew by 0.7 percent per year while median MI increased by 0.6 percent per year. LIMEW grew much slower than MI from 1959 to 1982, and much faster than MI from 1982 to 2004. In 2004, measured inequality was lower in LIMEW than MI (a difference of 5.5 Gini points); similarly, the increase in inequality between 1959 and 2004 was higher in MI than LIMEW (6.2 versus 5.1 Gini points). Much of the difference in these measures can be traced to the role of net government expenditures. According to both measures, the racial gap narrowed from 1959 to 1989; it then widened somewhat from 1989 to 2004 according to LIMEW but continued to narrow according to MI. The difference in time trends can be traced mainly to the rising income from wealth of white households relative to nonwhite households. The gap in well-being between single females and married couples widened from 1959 to 1989 and then narrowed slightly between 1989 and 2004 according to LIMEW but increased rather steadily from 1959 to 2004 according to MI. The fortunes of the elderly relative to the nonelderly showed considerable improvement from 1959 to 2004 according to LIMEW, almost reaching parity in 2004. In contrast, according to MI, the relative position of the elderly was about the same in 2004 as in 1959. In this instance, the difference in time trends can be traced mainly to rising income from wealth and government transfers accruing to the elderly relative to the nonelderly.
    Date: 2009–01

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