nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2019‒07‒22
seven papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
Universidad de la República

  1. Individual Consequences of Occupational Decline By Edin, Per-Anders; Evans, Tiernan; Graetz, Georg; Hernnäs, Sofia; Michaels, Guy
  2. Widening the High School Curriculum to Include Soft Skill Training: Impacts on Health, Behaviour, Emotional Wellbeing and Occupational Aspirations By Lordan, Grace; McGuire, Alistair
  3. Dissonant Works Councils and Establishment Survivability By Addison, John T.; Teixeira, Paulino; Grunau, Philipp; Bellmann, Lutz
  4. Is Employment Polarization Informative About Wage Inequality and Is Employment Really Polarizing? By Jennifer Hunt; Ryan Nunn
  5. Mental Health, Schooling Attainment and Polygenic Scores: Are There Significant Gene-Environment Associations? By Amin, Vikesh; Behrman, Jere R.; Fletcher, Jason M.; Flores, Carlos A.; Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso; Kohler, Hans-Peter
  6. How political systems and social welfare policies affect well-being: A literature review By MacCulloch, Robert
  7. Voting Up? The Effects of Democracy and Franchise Extension on Human Stature By Batinti, Alberto; Costa-Font, Joan; Hatton, Timothy J.

  1. By: Edin, Per-Anders (IFAU); Evans, Tiernan (CEP, London School of Economics); Graetz, Georg (Uppsala University); Hernnäs, Sofia (Uppsala University); Michaels, Guy (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: What are the earnings and employment losses that workers suffer when demand for their occupations declines? To answer this question we combine forecasts on occupational employment changes, which allow us to identify unanticipated declines; administrative data on the population of Swedish workers, spanning several decades; and a highly detailed occupational classification. We find that, compared to similar workers, those facing occupational decline lost about 2-5 percent of mean cumulative earnings from 1986-2013. But workers at the bottom of their occupations' initial earnings distributions suffered considerably larger losses. These earnings losses are partly accounted for by reduced employment, and increased unemployment and retraining.
    Keywords: technological change, occupations, inequality
    JEL: O33 J24 J62
    Date: 2019–06
  2. By: Lordan, Grace (London School of Economics); McGuire, Alistair (London School of Economics)
    Abstract: From 2020 Personal, Social, Health and Economic Education will be compulsory in UK schools for adolescents, however less is known about how it can be taught in a an effective manner. We examine, through a randomised trial, the impact of an evidenced based health related quality of life (HRQoL) curriculum called Healthy Minds that ran in 34 high schools in England over a four-year period. We find robust evidence that Healthy Minds positively augments many physical health domains of treated adolescents. We also find some evidence that Healthy Minds positively affects behaviour, but has no impact on emotional wellbeing. We find notable gender effects, strongly favouring boys. We also present evidence that Healthy Minds changes career aspirations, with those exposed to treatment being less likely to choose competitive work and more likely to choose work that involves "people-skills". Overall our work illustrates the potential for later childhood interventions to promote HRQoL and develop the career aspirations of adolescents.
    Keywords: soft skills, health related quality of life, character, high school curriculum, personal, social, health and economic education
    JEL: I18 I20
    Date: 2019–06
  3. By: Addison, John T. (University of South Carolina); Teixeira, Paulino (University of Coimbra); Grunau, Philipp (Institut für Arbeitsmarkt- und Berufsforschung); Bellmann, Lutz (Institute for Employment Research (IAB), Nuremberg)
    Abstract: Using subjective information provided by manager respondents on the stance taken by the works council in company decision making, this paper investigates the association between a measure of works council dissonance or disaffection and plant closings in Germany, 2006-2015. The potential effects of worker representation on plant survivability have been little examined in the firm performance literature because of inadequate information on plant closings on the one hand and having to assume homogeneity of what are undoubtedly heterogeneous worker representation agencies on the other. Our use of two datasets serves to identify failed establishments, while the critical issue of heterogeneity is tackled via manager perceptions of works council disaffection or otherwise. The heterogeneity issue is also addressed by considering the wider collective bargaining framework within which works councils are embedded, and also by allowing for works council learning. It is reported that works council dissonance is positively associated with plant closings, although this association is not found for establishments that are covered by sectoral agreements. Taken in conjunction, both findings are consistent with the literature on the mitigation of rent seeking behavior. Less consistent with the recent empirical literature, however, is the association between plant closings and dissonance over time, that is, from the point at which works council dissonance is first observed. Although the coefficient estimate for dissonance is declining with the length of the observation window, it remains stubbornly positive and highly statistically significant. Finally, there is evidence that establishments with dissonant works councils are associated with a much higher probability of transitioning from no collective bargaining to sectoral bargaining coverage over the sample period than their counterparts with more consensual works councils.
    Keywords: dissonance, works councils, plant closings, collective bargaining regime, rent seeking, learning
    JEL: J51 J53 J65
    Date: 2019–06
  4. By: Jennifer Hunt; Ryan Nunn
    Abstract: Equating a job with an individual rather than an occupation, we re-examine whether U.S. workers are increasingly concentrated in low and high-wage jobs relative to middle-wage jobs, a phenomenon known as employment polarization. By assigning workers in the CPS to real hourly wage bins with time-invariant thresholds and tracking over time the shares of workers in each, we do find a decline since 1973 in the share of workers earning middle wages. However, we find that a strong increase in the share of workers in the top bin is accompanied by a slight decline in the share in the bottom bin, inconsistent with employment polarization. Turning to occupation-based analysis, we show that the share of employment in low-wage occupations is trending up only from 2002-2012, and that the apparent earlier growth and therefore polarization found in the literature is an artefact of occupation code redefinitions. This new timing rules out the hypothesis that computerization and automation lie behind both rising wage inequality and occupation-based employment polarization in the United States.
    JEL: J31 J62
    Date: 2019–07
  5. By: Amin, Vikesh (Central Michigan University); Behrman, Jere R. (University of Pennsylvania); Fletcher, Jason M. (University of Wisconsin-Madison); Flores, Carlos A. (California Polytechnic State University); Flores-Lagunes, Alfonso (Syracuse University); Kohler, Hans-Peter (University of Pennsylvania)
    Abstract: It is well-established that (1) there is a large genetic component to mental health, and (2) higher schooling attainment is associated with better mental health. Given these two observations, we test the hypothesis that schooling may attenuate the genetic predisposition to poor mental health. Specifically, we estimate associations between a polygenic score (PGS) for depressive symptoms, schooling attainment and gene-environment (GxE) interactions with mental health (depressive symptoms and depression), in two distinct United States datasets at different adult ages- 29 years old in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) and 54 years old in the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study (WLS). OLS results indicate that the association of the PGS with mental health is similar in Add Health and the WLS, but the association of schooling attainment is much larger in Add Health than in the WLS. There is some suggestive evidence that the association of the PGS with mental health is lower for more-schooled older individuals in the WLS, but there is no evidence of any significant GxE associations in Add Health. Quantile regression estimates also show that in the WLS the GxE associations are statistically significant only in the upper parts of the conditional depressive symptoms score distribution. We assess the robustness of the OLS results to omitted variable bias by using the siblings samples in both datasets to estimate sibling fixed-effect regressions. The sibling fixed-effect results must be qualified, in part due to low statistical power. However, the sibling fixed-effect estimates show that college education is associated with fewer depressive symptoms in both datasets.
    Keywords: schooling, mental health, genetics, gene-environment interactions
    JEL: I21 I10
    Date: 2019–06
  6. By: MacCulloch, Robert
    Abstract: This chapter focusses on the question of how formal institutions, like those governing the level of freedom, the regulatory state, political parties and the generosity of the welfare state, affect self-reported well-being. The evidence suggests, for example, that more freedom, as well as government structures which encourage civic engagement, participation and trust, have positive effects. Many studies, however, use cross-sectional data with small sample sizes, often due to institutions being measured at the country level with limited variation over time. As a consequence, further work is needed to test robustness. Stronger results hold with respect to particular types of welfare state institutions, like unemployment benefits, which are subject to quite frequent changes within nations. Increases in unemployment benefits are associated with higher levels of well-being for all workers, probably due to greater income security. However, doubt still persists as to their overall impact, due to the extent to which well-being is adversely affected by the higher taxes needed to support a more generous welfare state.
    Keywords: Public Economics
    Date: 2017–09
  7. By: Batinti, Alberto (Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University); Costa-Font, Joan (London School of Economics); Hatton, Timothy J. (University of Essex)
    Abstract: We study the health effects of the spread of democratic institutions and the extension of voting rights in 15 European countries since the middle of the nineteenth century. We employ both cross country and cohort variation in heights and employ a new instrument for democracy and the extension of the franchise, the effect of decolonisation on democracy in the colonising country's democratisation to identify the causal effect of democracy on heights. We find robust evidence of a link between democratic quality and human stature. The results indicate that the transition to democracy increased average male heights by 0.7 to 1 cm, equivalent to a one-decade average increase in stature across cohorts. Including the extension of the franchise to women increases the effect on average stature to about 1.7cm. The effect is driven by both political participation and contestation in reducing inequality and expanding health insurance coverage.
    Keywords: voting rights expansions, transition, democracy, height, franchise
    JEL: H1 J18
    Date: 2019–05

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