nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2009‒10‒17
six papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. Getting a Job through Voluntary Associations: the Role of Network and Human Capital Creation By Giacomo degli Antoni
  2. Culture, Policies and Labor Market Outcomes By Francesco Giavazzi; Fabio Schiantarelli; Michel Serafinelli
  3. How important is human capital? A quantitative theory assessment of world income inequality By Andrés Erosa; Tatyana Koreshkova; Diego Restuccia
  4. Economic incentives and the timing of births: Evidence from the German parental benefit reform 2007 By Henry Ohlsson, Michael Neugart and
  5. Are Academics Messy? Testing the Broken Windows Theory with a Field Experiment in the Work Environment By João Ramos; Benno Torgler
  6. Top Incomes in the Long Run of History By Anthony B. Atkinson; Thomas Piketty; Emmanuel Saez

  1. By: Giacomo degli Antoni (University of Milan - Bicocca)
    Abstract: The present paper draws on an original dataset collected by the author to investigate if: i)the relational network and the human capital developed by unemployed volunteers through their associational membership are useful in finding a job; ii)the likelihood to get a job is higher for volunteers who take part in activities capable of increasing social networks and human capital. Data show that a considerable percentage of volunteers (24%) who were out of work when they joined their association obtained a job thanks to their associational participation. In particular, personal declarations of unemployed respondents reveal that 12% of them found a job thanks to the skills developed by working in the association, 10% thanks to information received by people met through the association and 2% for other reasons concerning the associational membership. Moreover, the econometric analysis shows that some activities related to the creation of social network (the frequency of participation in informal meetings and work groups) and human capital (the attendance at training courses) positively and significantly affect the probability to get a job if unemployed.
    Keywords: Voluntary Associations; Job Opportunities; Social Network; Human Capital
    JEL: L31 A14 J64 D85 J24
    Date: 2009–09
  2. By: Francesco Giavazzi (IGIER, Bocconi University); Fabio Schiantarelli (Boston College; IZA); Michel Serafinelli (University of California, Berkeley)
    Abstract: We study whether cultural attitudes towards gender, the young, and leisure are significant determinants of the evolution over time of the employment rates of women and of the young, and of hours worked in OECD countries. Beyond controlling for a larger menu of policies, institutions and structural characteristics of the economy than has been done so far, our analysis improves upon existing studies of the role of "culture" for labor market outcomes by dealing explicitly with the endogeneity of attitudes, policies and institutions, and by allowing for the persistent nature of labor market outcomes. When we do all this we Önd that culture still matters for women employment rates and for hours worked. However, policies and other institutional or structural characteristics are also important. Attitudes towards youth independence, however, do not appear to be important in explaining the employment rate of the young. In the case of women employment rates, the policy variable that is significant along with attitudes, is the OECD index of employment protection legislation. For hours worked the policy variables that play a role, along with attitudes, are the tax wedge and unemployment benefits. The quantitative impact of these policy variables is such that changes in policies have at least the potential to undo the effect of variations in cultural traits on labor market outcomes.
    Date: 2009–09–30
  3. By: Andrés Erosa (IMDEA Ciencias Sociales); Tatyana Koreshkova (Concordia University and CIREQ); Diego Restuccia (University of Toronto)
    Abstract: We develop a quantitative theory of human capital investments in order to evaluate the magnitude of cross-country differences in total factor productivity (TFP) that explains the variation in per-capita incomes across countries. We build a heterogeneous-agent economy with cross-sectional variation in ability, schooling, and expenditures on schooling quality. By embedding our analysis in a growth model with tradable and non-tradable sectors, we model sectorial productivity differences across countries, as documented in Hsieh and Klenow (2007). The parameters governing human capital production and random ability and taste processes are restricted by a set of cross-sectional data moments such as variances and intergenerational correlations of earnings and schooling, as well as slope coefficient and R2 in a Mincer regression. Our main finding is that human capital accumulation strongly amplifies TFP differences across countries: To explain a 20-fold difference in the output per worker the model requires a 5-fold difference in the TFP of the tradable sector, versus an 18-fold difference if human capital is fixed across countries. Moreover, we find that sectorial productivity differences play a prominent role in quantitative implications of the theory.
    Date: 2009–09–30
  4. By: Henry Ohlsson, Michael Neugart and (Uppsala Center for Fiscal Studies)
    Abstract: Economic theory suggests that incentives matter for people's decisions. This paper investigates whether this also holds for less self-evident areas of life such as the timing of births. We make use of a nautral experiment when the German government changed its parental benefit system January 1, 2007. The policy changes strongly increased economic incentives for women to postpone delivery to the new year provided that they were employed. The incentives for women not employed were not the same, they could gain slightly from giving birth before the policy change. Applying a difference-in-difference-in-difference approach, we find very strong evidence that women with an employment history near to the end of their term indeed succeeded to shift births and became subject to the new and more generous parental benefit system. We estimate the quantitative impact to correspond to a 5-6 percentage points increased probability to give birth the first seven days of 2007 rather than the last seven days of 2006 for employed women.
    Keywords: Timing of births; economic incentives; parental benefits; policy reform
    JEL: D19 H53 J13 J18
    Date: 2009–10–12
  5. By: João Ramos; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: We study the broken windows theory with a field experiment in a shared area of a workplace in academia (department common room). We explore academics' and postgraduate students' behaviour under an order condition (clean environment) and a disorder condition (messy environment). We find strong support that signs of disorderly behaviour triggers littering. In the disorder treatment 59% of the subjects litter compared to 18% in the order condition. The results remain robust when controlling compared to previous studies for a large set of factors in a multivariate analysis. When academic staff members and postgraduate students observe that others violated the social norm of keeping the common room clean the probability of littering increases ceteris paribus by around 40 percent.
    Keywords: broken windows theory; field experiment; littering
    JEL: Z13 C93 K42
    Date: 2009–09
  6. By: Anthony B. Atkinson; Thomas Piketty; Emmanuel Saez
    Abstract: This paper summarizes the main findings of a recent literature that has constructed top income shares time series over the long-run for more than 20 countries using income tax statistics. Top incomes represent a small share of the population but a very significant share of total income and total taxes paid. Hence, aggregate economic growth per capita and Gini inequality indexes are very sensitive to excluding or including top incomes. We discuss the estimation methods and issues that arise when constructing top income share series, including income definition and comparability over time and across countries, tax avoidance and tax evasion. We provide a summary of the key empirical findings. Most countries experience a dramatic drop in top income shares in the first part of the 20th century in general due to shocks to top capital incomes during the wars and depression shocks. Top income shares do not recover in the immediate post war decades. However, over the last 30 years, top income shares have increased substantially in English speaking countries and in India and China but not in continental Europe countries or Japan. This increase is due in part to an unprecedented surge in top wage incomes. As a result, wage income comprises a larger fraction of top incomes than in the past. Finally, we discuss the theoretical and empirical models that have been proposed to account for the facts and the main questions that remain open.
    JEL: H2 N10 O15
    Date: 2009–10

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