New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2009‒04‒05
six papers chosen by

  1. Work, Jobs and Well-Being across the Millennium By Andrew E. Clark
  2. The measurement of low and high citation impact, or poverty and affluence in citation space By Pedro Albarran; Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin; Javier Ruiz-Castillo
  3. Alternative approaches to evaluation in empirical microeconomics By Richard Blundell; Monica Costa Dias
  4. Wage risk and employment risk over the life cycle By Hamish Low; Costas Meghir; Luigi Pistaferri
  5. Preschool and maternal labour market outcomes: evidence from a regression discontinuity design By Samuel Berlinski; Sebastian Galiani; Patrick J. McEwan
  6. Decomposing changes in income risk using consumption data By Richard Blundell; Hamish Low; Ian Preston

  1. By: Andrew E. Clark
    Abstract: This paper uses repeated cross-section data ISSP data from 1989, 1997 and 2005 to consider movements in job quality. It is first underlined that not having a job when you want one is a major source of low well-being. Second, job values have remained fairly stable over time, although workers seem to give increasing importance to the more “social” aspects of jobs: useful and helpful jobs. The central finding of the paper is that, following a substantial fall between 1989 and 1997, subjective measures of job quality have mostly bounced back between 1997 and 2005. Overall job satisfaction is higher in 2005 than it was in 1989. Last, the rate of self-employment has been falling gently in ISSP data; even so three to four times as many people say they would prefer to be self-employed than are actually self-employed. As the self-employed are more satisfied than are employees, one consistent interpretation of the above is that the barriers to self-employment have grown in recent years.<BR>Ce document exploite des données transversales de l’International Social Science Programme (ISSP) portant sur différentes périodes (1989, 1997 et 2005) pour examiner l’évolution de la qualité des emplois. Dans un premier temps, il est souligné que le fait de ne pas avoir d’emploi quand on le voudrait amoindrit considérablement le sentiment de bien-être. Vient ensuite un constat selon lequel la valeur des emplois est demeurée relativement stable au fil du temps. Pour autant, les travailleurs semblent accorder une importance croissante à la dimension « sociale » de leur emploi, privilégiant des notions d’utilité et de services rendus. La principale conclusion du document est que, après une dégradation significative entre 1989 et 1997, les indicateurs subjectifs de la qualité des emplois se sont pour la plupart redressés entre 1997 et 2005. Le degré de satisfaction global à l’égard du travail est plus élevé en 2005 qu’il ne l’était en 1989. Enfin, dans les données de l’ISSP, le taux d’emploi indépendant a diminué tout doucement. Malgré tout, les individus qui disent préférer cette forme d’activité sont trois à quatre fois plus nombreux que ceux qui exercent réellement à titre indépendant. Comme les travailleurs indépendants sont plus satisfaits de leur emploi que les salariés, on peut logiquement en déduire que les obstacles au travail indépendant ont augmenté ces dernières années.
    JEL: J21 J28 J3 J6 J81 L26
    Date: 2009–03–23
  2. By: Pedro Albarran; Ignacio Ortuno-Ortin; Javier Ruiz-Castillo
    Abstract: This paper presents two new graphical devices to describe the lower and the upper tail of a citation distribution, as well as a novel methodology to compare the research performance of two sets of scientists. The key to these contributions is the identification of a citation distribution in any scientific field with an income distribution. Then the approach to poverty measurement developed by economists since Sen (1976) serves to evaluate the lower tail or low impact sector of the citation distribution. The upper tail, or the high impact sector of that distribution is evaluated by means of, say, an affluence measurement approach that is seen to be the reverse of the poverty one. The paper illustrates this methodology comparing the performance of U.S. and European researchers in the nineteen natural sciences, the two social sciences and the Arts and Humanities category distinguished by Thomson Scientific. The critical value of the citation distribution, or the number of citations that separates the low from the high impact articles, is taken to be the one corresponding to the 70th percentile of the world citation distribution. For all values below or equal to the critical one, in 19 fields the low impact of the citation distribution is found to be larger in Europe than in the U.S. according to any low impact indicator in a large class of admissible measures. For all values above the critical one, in 20 fields the high impact of the citation distribution is found to be larger in the U.S. than in Europe according to any high impact indicator in a similarly large admissible class.
    Date: 2009–03
  3. By: Richard Blundell (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London); Monica Costa Dias (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies)
    Abstract: <p>This paper reviews a range of the most popular policy evaluation methods in empirical microeconomics: social experiments, natural experiments, matching methods, instrumental variables, discontinuity design and control functions. It discusses the identification of both the traditionally used average parameters and more complex distributional parameters. In each case, the necessary assumptions and the data requirements are considered. The adequacy of each approach is discussed drawing on the empirical evidence from the education and labor market policy evaluation literature. We also develop an education evaluation model which we use to carry through the discussion of each alternative approach. A full set of <a href="">STATA datasets are provided free online</a> which contain Monte-Carlo replications of the various specifications of the education evaluation model. There are also a full set of STATA .do files for each of the estimation approaches described in the paper. The .do-files can be used together with the datasets to reproduce all the results in the paper.</p></p></p></p>
    Date: 2008–10
  4. By: Hamish Low (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Trinity College, Cambridge); Costas Meghir (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London); Luigi Pistaferri (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Stanford University)
    Abstract: <p><p>We specify a structural life-cycle model of consumption, labour supply and job mobility in an economy with search frictions that allows us to distinguish between different sources of risk and to estimate their effects. The sources of risk are shocks to productivity, job destruction, the process of job arrival when employed and unemployed and match level heterogeneity. Our model allows for four main social insurance programmes. In contrast to simpler models that attribute all income fluctuations to shocks, our framework allows us to disentangle the effects of the shocks from the responses to these shocks. Estimates of productivity risk, once we control for employment risk and for individual labour supply choices, are substantially lower than estimates that attribute all wage variation to productivity risk. Increases in productivity risk impose a considerable welfare loss on individuals and induce substantial precautionary saving. Increases in employment risk have large effects on output and, primarily through this channel, affect welfare. The welfare value of government programs such as food stamps which partially insure productivity risk is greater than the value of unemployment insurance which provides (partial) insurance against employment risk and no insurance against persistent shocks. </p></p>
    Keywords: Uncertainty, life-cycle models, unemployment, precautionary savings
    JEL: D91 H31 J64
    Date: 2008–09
  5. By: Samuel Berlinski (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College, London); Sebastian Galiani; Patrick J. McEwan
    Abstract: <p>Expanding preschool education has the dual goals of improving child outcomes and work incentives for mothers. This paper provides evidence on the second, identifying the impact of preschool attendance on maternal labor market outcomes in Argentina. A major challenge in identifying the causal effect of preschool attendance on parental outcomes is non-random selection into early education. We address this by relying on plausibly exogenous variation in preschool attendance that is induced when children are born on either side of Argentina's enrollment cutoff date of July 1. Because of enrollment cutoff dates, 4 year-olds born just before July 1 are 0.3 more likely to attend preschool. Our regression-discontinuity estimates compare maternal employment outcomes of 4 year-old children on either side of this cutoff, identifying effects among the subset of complying households (who are perhaps more likely to face constraints on their level 2 preschool attendance). </p><p> </p><p>Our findings suggest that, on average, 13 mothers start to work for every 100 youngest children in the household that start preschool (though, in our preferred specification, this estimate is not statistically significant at conventional levels). Furthermore, mothers are 19.1 percentage points more likely to work for more than 20 hours a week (i.e., more time than their children spend in school) and they work, on average, 7.8 more hours per week as consequence of their youngest offspring attending preschool. We find no effect on maternal labor outcomes when a child that is not the youngest in the household attends preschool. Finally, we find that at the point of transition from kindergarten to primary school some employment effects persist. </p><p> </p><p>Our preferred estimates condition on mother's schooling and other exogenous covariates, given evidence that mothers' schooling is unbalanced in the vicinity of the July 1 cutoff in the sample of 4 year-olds. Using a large set of natality records, we found no evidence that this is due to precise birth date manipulation by parents. Other explanations, like sample selection, are also not fully consistent with the data, and we must remain agnostic on this point. Despite this shortcoming, the credibility of the estimates is partly enhanced by the consistency of point estimates with Argentine research using a different EPH sample and sources of variation in preschool attendance (Berlinski and Galiani 2007). </p><p> </p><p>A growing body of research suggests that pre-primary school can improve educational outcomes for children in the short and long run (Blau and Currie 2006; Schady 2006). This paper provides further evidence that, <i>ceteris paribus</i>, an expansion in preschool education may enhance the employment prospects of mothers of children in preschool age.</p>
    Keywords: Female labor supply, Argentina, regression-discontinuity, kindergarten.
    JEL: I21 I28 J22
    Date: 2009–01
  6. By: Richard Blundell (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London); Hamish Low (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Trinity College, Cambridge); Ian Preston (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)
    Abstract: <p><p>This paper concerns the decomposition of income risk into permanent and transitory components using repeated cross-section data on income and consumption. Our focus is on the detection of changes in the magnitudes of variances of permanent and transitory risks. A new approximation to the optimal consumption growth rule is developed. Evidence from a dynamic stochastic simulation is used to show that this approximation can provide a robust method for decomposing income risk in a nonstationary environment. We examine robustness to unobserved heterogeneity in consumption growth and to unobserved heterogeneity in income growth. We use this approach to investigate the growth in income inequality in the UK in the 1980s.</p></p>
    Keywords: Income risk, inequality, approximation methods, consumption
    JEL: C30 D52 D91
    Date: 2008–11

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