nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2010‒10‒30
six papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
University of the Republic

  1. Suicide in Ireland: The Influence of Alcohol and Unemployment By Brendan Walsh; Dermot Walsh
  2. Is There Surplus Labor in Rural India? By Mark R. Rosenzweig; Andrew D. Foster
  3. The British Household Panel Survey and its Income Data By Jenkins, Stephen P.
  5. I Would if I Could: Precarious Employment and Childbearing Intentions in Italy By Modena, Francesca; Sabatini, Fabio
  6. Estimating Marginal Returns to Education By Pedro Carneiro; James J. Heckman; Edward J. Vytlacil

  1. By: Brendan Walsh (University College Dublin); Dermot Walsh (Mental Health Commission)
    Abstract: In this paper we model the behaviour of the Irish suicide rate over the period 1968-2009 using the unemployment rate and the level of alcohol consumption as explanatory variables. It is found that these variables have significant positive effects on suicide mortality in several demographic groups. Alcohol consumption is a significant influence on the male suicide rate up to age 64. Its influence on the female suicide rate is not as well-established, although there is evidence that it is important in the 15-24 and 25-34 age groups. The unemployment rate is also a significant influence on the male suicide rate in the younger age groups. The behaviour of suicide rates among males aged 55 and over and females aged 25 and over is largely unaccounted for by our model. These broad conclusions hold when account is taken of a structural break in the 1980s, with the response to unemployment being greater in the earlier period and that to alcohol greater in the later period. The findings suggest that higher alcohol consumption played a major role in the increase in suicide mortality among young Irish males between the late 1960s and the end of the century. In the early twenty first century a combination of falling alcohol consumption and low unemployment led to a marked reduction in suicide rates, although there is some evidence that the suicide rate is being increasingly under-reported in recent years. The recent rise in the suicide rate may be attributed to the sharp increase in unemployment, especially among males, but it has been moderated by the continuing fall in alcohol consumption. Some policy implications of the findings are discussed.
    Keywords: Suicide, Alcohol, Unemployment, Lederman Hypothesis
    Date: 2010–10–21
  2. By: Mark R. Rosenzweig (Department of Economics, Yale University); Andrew D. Foster (Department of Economics, Brown University)
    Abstract: We show empirically using panel data at the plot and farm level and based on a model incorporating supervision costs, risk, credit-market imperfections and scale-economies associated with mechanization that small-scale farming is inefficient in India. Larger farms are more profitable per acre, more mechanized, less constrained in input use after bad shocks, and employ less per-acre labor than small farms. Based on our structural estimates of the effects of farm size on labor use and the distribution of Indian landholdings, we estimate that over 20% of the Indian agricultural labor force is surplus if minimum farm scale is 20 acres.
    Keywords: agriculture, India, scale, profits, labor, tractors
    JEL: O13 O16 O53
    Date: 2010–10
  3. By: Jenkins, Stephen P. (University of Essex)
    Abstract: This paper provides a self-contained introduction to the British Household Panel Survey (BHPS), concentrating on aspects relevant to analysis of the distribution of household income. I discuss BHPS design features and how data on net household income are derived. The BHPS net household income definition is modelled on that used in Britain’s official personal income distribution statistics (Households Below Average Income, HBAI). I show that cross-sectional BHPS distributions track corresponding HBAI ones relatively well over time.
    Keywords: British Household Panel Survey, household income, net income, disposable income, Households Below Average Income, income distribution, inequality, poverty
    JEL: C81 D31 I32
    Date: 2010–10
  4. By: Judith K. Hellerstein (Department of Economics and MPRC,University of Maryland); Melissa P. McInerney (Department of Economics, College of William and Mary); David Neumark (Department of Economics, UCI, NBER, and IZA)
    Abstract: We study the relationship between Hispanic employment and location-specific measures of the distribution of jobs. We find that it is only the local density of jobs held by Hispanics that matters for Hispanic employment, that measures of local job density defined for Hispanic poor English speakers or immigrants are more important, and that the density of jobs held by Hispanic poor English speakers are most important for the employment of these less-skilled Hispanics than for other Hispanics. This evidence is consistent with labor market networks being an important influence on the employment of less-skilled Hispanics, as is evidence from other sources. We also find that in MSAs where the growth rates of the Hispanic immigrant population have been highest, which are also MSAs with historically low Hispanic populations, localized job density for low-skilled jobs is even more important for Hispanic employment than in the full sample. We interpret this evidence as consistent with the importance of labor market networks, as strong labor market networks are likely to have been especially important in inducing Hispanics to migrate, and because of these networks employment in these “new immigrant” cities is especially strongly tied to the local availability of jobs.
    Keywords: spatial mismatch, networks, immigration, Hispanics
    JEL: J15 J61 R23
    Date: 2010–10–18
  5. By: Modena, Francesca; Sabatini, Fabio
    Abstract: This paper carries out an investigation into the socio-economic determinants of childbearing decisions made by couples in Italy. The analysis accounts for the characteristics of both possible parents. Our results do not support established theoretical predictions according to which the increase in the opportunity cost of motherhood connected to higher female labour participation is responsible for the fall in fertility. On the contrary, the instability of women’s work status (i.e. having occasional, precarious, and low-paid positions) is revealed as a significant dissuasive factor in the decision to have children. Couples in which there is an unemployed woman are less likely to plan childbearing as well. Other relevant explanatory variables are women’s age, men’s work status and education, women’s citizenship, marital status and perceived economic well-being.
    Keywords: Fertility; family planning; parenthood; childbearing; participation; job instability; precarious employment; Italy
    JEL: J13 J71 J12 Z13 C25
    Date: 2010–10–22
  6. By: Pedro Carneiro; James J. Heckman; Edward J. Vytlacil
    Abstract: This paper estimates the marginal returns to college for individuals induced to enroll in college by different marginal policy changes. The recent instrumental variables literature seeks to estimate this parameter, but in general it does so only under strong assumptions that are tested and found wanting. We show how to utilize economic theory and local instrumental variables estimators to estimate the effect of marginal policy changes. Our empirical analysis shows that returns are higher for individuals with values of unobservables that make them more likely to attend college. We contrast the returns to well-defined marginal policy changes with IV estimates of the return to schooling. Some marginal policy changes inducing students into college produce very low returns.
    JEL: J31
    Date: 2010–10

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