nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2010‒02‒20
nine papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. Well-being Inequality and Reference Groups: An Agenda for New Research By van Praag, Bernard M. S.
  2. Winning Big but Feeling No Better? The Effect of Lottery Prizes on Physical and Mental Health By Apouey, Bénédicte; Clark, Andrew E.
  3. Genes, Economics, and Happiness By Bruno S. Frey
  4. Why Do so many Women End up in Bad Jobs?: A Cross-country Assessment By Johannes P. Jütting; Angela Luci; Christian Morrison
  5. Honey, I’ll Be Working Late Tonight. The Effect of Individual Work Routines on Leisure Time Synchronization of Couples By Juliane Scheffel
  6. The Distribution of Income and Well-Being in Rural China: A Survey of Panel Data Sets, Studies and New Directions By Chen, Xi; Zhang, Xiaobo
  7. Can Mentoring Help Female Assistant Professors? Interim Results from a Randomized Trial By Francine D. Blau; Janet M. Currie; Rachel T.A. Croson; Donna K. Ginther
  8. Women's Education and Family Behavior: Trends in Marriage, Divorce and Fertility By Adam Isen; Betsey Stevenson
  9. Estimating the Technology of Cognitive and Noncognitive Skill Formation By Flavio Cunha; James Heckman; Susanne Schennach

  1. By: van Praag, Bernard M. S. (University of Amsterdam)
    Abstract: In this paper it is argued that subjective well-being of the individual depends on two types of variables. The first type consists of characteristics of the individual himself, such as age, health, income, etc. The second type of variables consists of the characteristics of the individuals belonging to his reference group. The vast literature about happiness, quality of life, and well-being informs us extensively about the effects of objective variables. How the second type affects well-being is much less investigated. It is argued that the concept of well-being inequality cannot be properly defined without taking the referencing process into account. The reference effect depends on how frequently individuals compare with others and on the degree of social transparency in society. We attempt to give a structural embedding of the idea of reference groups in SWB-models. In this paper we employ the reference-extended model for incorporating in happiness studies the concept of inequality in happiness or SWB. Finally, we plead for an extension of the present happiness paradigm by setting up a new additional agenda for empirical research in order to get quantified knowledge about the referencing process. As a first step we suggest a new question module to be included in new survey questionnaires.
    Keywords: subjective well-being, happiness, inequality, reference group
    JEL: D31 D62 D63 I31
    Date: 2010–01
  2. By: Apouey, Bénédicte (University of South Florida); Clark, Andrew E. (Paris School of Economics)
    Abstract: We use British panel data to determine the exogenous impact of income on a number of individual health outcomes: general health status, mental health, physical health problems, and health behaviors (drinking and smoking). Lottery winnings allow us to make causal statements regarding the effect of income on health, as the amount won by winners is largely exogenous. Positive income shocks have no significant effect on general health, but a large positive effect on mental health. This result seems paradoxical on two levels. First, there is a well-known status gradient in health in cross-section data, and, second, general health should partly reflect mental health, so that we may expect both variables to move in the same direction. We propose a solution to the first apparent paradox by underlining the endogeneity of income. For the second, we show that lottery winnings are also associated with more smoking and social drinking. General health will reflect both mental health and the effect of these behaviors, and so may not improve following a positive income shock. This paper thus presents the first microeconomic analogue of previous work which has highlighted the negative health consequences of good macroeconomic conditions.
    Keywords: income, self-assessed health, mental health, smoking, drinking
    JEL: D1 I1 I3
    Date: 2010–01
  3. By: Bruno S. Frey
    Abstract: Research on happiness has produced valuable insights into the sources of subjective well-being. A major finding from this literature is that people exhibit a "baseline" happiness that shows persistent strength over time, and twin studies have shown that genes play a signi cant role in explaining the variance of baseline happiness between individuals. However, these studies have not identi ed which genes might be involved. This article presents evidence of a speci c gene that predicts subjective well-being. Using data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we show that individuals with a transcriptionally more ecient version of the serotonin transporter gene (5HTT) are signi cantly more likely to report higher levels of life satisfaction. Having one or two alleles of the more ecient type raises the average likelihood of being very satis ed with one's life by 8.5% and 17.3%, respectively. This result may help to explain the stable component of happiness and suggests that genetic association studies can help us to better understand individual heterogeneity in subjective well- being.
    Keywords: Happiness; Subjective Well-Being; Genetics
    JEL: A12 Z00
    Date: 2010–01
  4. By: Johannes P. Jütting; Angela Luci; Christian Morrison
    Abstract: There is an increasing concern in the development community about the increase in the ‘feminisation of bad jobs’ of many developing countries. Indeed, recent analysis shows a growing proportion of women are in jobs with poor working conditions and low pay. But what is driving this phenomenon? This paper addresses this issue by looking at the role of social institutions, i.e. traditions, social norms and informal laws, in shaping labour market outcomes. By applying the newly established Social Institutions and Gender Index (SIGI) of the OECD on 44 developing countries, the paper finds that social institutions influence to a great extent activity patterns and job quality for women. Our results suggest that addressing discriminating social institutions is crucial for advancing gender equality.<BR>On se préoccupe de plus en plus de la « féminisation » des mauvais emplois dans les pays en développement. Les analyses récentes montrent qu’il y a un pourcentage croissant de femmes qui ont des emplois caractérisés par de mauvaises conditions de travail et un faible salaire. Quelle est la cause de ce phénomène ? Ce document traite ce sujet en étudiant le rôle des institutions sociales, c’est-à-dire des traditions, des normes sociales et des lois informelles, dans la détermination des résultats qu’obtiennent les femmes sur le marché du travail. En appliquant le nouvel indicateur de l’OCDE en usage SIGI (social institutions and gender index) à 44 pays en développement, nous trouvons que les institutions sociales influencent dans une large mesure les genres d’activité et la qualité des emplois pour les femmes. Nos résultats suggèrent qu’il est crucial de traiter le problème de la discrimination sociale envers les femmes pour améliorer leurs chances d’accès à un bon emploi dans les pays en développement.
    Keywords: agriculture, labour market, social institutions, SIGI, gender inequality, job quality, marché du travail, agriculture, institutions sociales, égalité homme-femme, qualité de l’emploi, SIGI
    JEL: D63 F16 H1 J16 J21 J43 J8
    Date: 2010–01–03
  5. By: Juliane Scheffel
    Abstract: German time use data for 2001/02 are used to assess the impact of workplace characteristics on the private life of couples. The major aim is to solve the endogeneity resulting from individual preferences for work and leisure to identify the pure effects of the workplace independent from other diluting personal influences in a cross-sectional setting when no appropriate instruments are available. I propose a repeated random assignment of people into pseudo couples as a solution. By this approach, I am able to uncover additional marriage inherent mechanisms that result in a (de-)synchronization of joint time that are still family friendly.
    Keywords: Time Use, Time Allocation, Family Economics, Flexibility, Synchronization, Leisure, Endogeneity
    JEL: D13 J12 J16 J22
    Date: 2010–02
  6. By: Chen, Xi; Zhang, Xiaobo
    Abstract: This paper reviews the recent literature on inequality and income distribution in rural China utilizing panel datasets. We begin by briefly summarizing and comparing available panel datasets for rural China that can be employed to explore issues on inequality and income distribution, and major data issues that might act as obstacles to research and policy enforcement are then analyzed. The paper then reviews the trend and spatial decompositions of rural income inequality, its major determinants, and its relationship with household welfare. Dimensions other than income inequality, such as income mobility and income polarization, are categorized and reviewed respectively. A recently developed branch of literature on inequality and health is summarized. On the basis of the review, this paper concludes by identifying new research areas with existing panel data sets and a new panel dataset that could shape future research.
    Keywords: Inequality;Income Distribution;Rural China;Panel Data
    JEL: D31 O53 O15
    Date: 2009–10–25
  7. By: Francine D. Blau; Janet M. Currie; Rachel T.A. Croson; Donna K. Ginther
    Abstract: While much has been written about the potential benefits of mentoring in academia, very little research documents its effectiveness. We present data from a randomized controlled trial of a mentoring program for female economists organized by the Committee for the Status of Women in the Economics Profession and sponsored by the National Science Foundation and the American Economics Association. To our knowledge, this is the first randomized trial of a mentoring program in academia. We evaluate the performance of three cohorts of participants and randomly-assigned controls from 2004, 2006, and 2008. This paper presents an interim assessment of the program’s effects. Our results suggest that mentoring works. After five years the 2004 treatment group averaged .4 more NSF or NIH grants and 3 additional publications, and were 25 percentage points more likely to have a top-tier publication. There are significant but smaller effects at three years post-treatment for the 2004 and 2006 cohorts combined. While it is too early to assess the ultimate effects of mentoring on the academic careers of program participants, the results suggest that this type of mentoring may be one way to help women advance in the Economics profession and, by extension, in other male-dominated academic fields.
    JEL: A11 C93 I2 J16 J24 J44
    Date: 2010–01
  8. By: Adam Isen; Betsey Stevenson
    Abstract: This paper examines how marital and fertility patterns have changed along racial and educational lines for men and women. Historically, women with more education have been the least likely to marry and have children, but this marriage gap has eroded as the returns to marriage have changed. Marriage and remarriage rates have risen for women with a college degree relative to women with fewer years of education. However, the patterns of, and reasons for, marriage have changed. College educated women marry later, have fewer children, are less likely to view marriage as “financial security”, are happier in their marriages and with their family life, and are not only the least likely to divorce, but have had the biggest decrease in divorce since the 1970s compared to women without a college degree. In contrast, there have been fewer changes in marital patterns by education for men.
    JEL: I20 J1 J11 J12 J13 J15 J16
    Date: 2010–02
  9. By: Flavio Cunha; James Heckman; Susanne Schennach
    Abstract: This paper formulates and estimates multistage production functions for childrens' cognitive and noncognitive skills. Skills are determined by parental environments and investments at different stages of childhood. We estimate the elasticity of substitution between investments in one period and stocks of skills in that period to assess the benefits of early investment in children compared to later remediation. We establish nonparametric identification of a general class of production technologies based on nonlinear factor models with endogenous inputs. A by-product of our approach is a framework for evaluating childhood and schooling interventions that does not rely on arbitrarily scaled test scores as outputs and recognizes the differential effects of the same bundle of skills in different tasks. Using the estimated technology, we determine optimal targeting of interventions to children with different parental and personal birth endowments. Substitutability decreases in later stages of the life cycle in the production of cognitive skills. It increases slightly in later stages of the life cycle in the production of noncognitive skills. This finding has important implications for the design of policies that target the disadvantaged. For some configurations of disadvantage and for some outcomes, the return to investments in the later stages of childhood may exceed that to investments in the early stage.
    JEL: C31 J13
    Date: 2010–01

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