nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2020‒05‒04
four papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
Universidad de la República

  1. Culture and Gender Allocation of Tasks: Source Country Characteristics and the Division of Non-Market Work among US Immigrants By Francine D. Blau; Lawrence Kahn; Matthew Comey; Amanda Eng; Pamela Meyerhofer; Alexander Willén
  2. Lock-downs, Loneliness and Life Satisfaction By Daniel S. Hamermesh
  3. Risk Attitudes and Human Mobility During the COVID-19 Pandemic By Ho Fai Chan; Ahmed Skali; David Savage; David Stadelmann; Benno Torgler
  4. Economic Policy Incentives to Preserve Lives and Livelihoods By Roberto Chang; Andrés Velasco

  1. By: Francine D. Blau; Lawrence Kahn; Matthew Comey; Amanda Eng; Pamela Meyerhofer; Alexander Willén
    Abstract: There is a well-known gender difference in time allocation within the household, which has important implications for gender differences in labor market outcomes. We ask how malleable this gender difference in time allocation is to culture. In particular, we ask if US immigrants allocate tasks differently depending upon the characteristics of the source countries from which they emigrated. Using data from the 2003-2017 waves of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), we find that first-generation immigrants, both women and men, from source countries with more gender equality (as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index) allocate tasks more equally, while those from less gender equal source countries allocate tasks more traditionally. These results are robust to controls for immigration cohort, years since migration, and other own and spouse characteristics. There is also some indication of an effect of parent source country gender equality for second-generation immigrants, particularly for second-generation men with children. Our findings suggest that broader cultural factors do influence the gender division of labor in the household.
    Keywords: housework, childcare, gender, immigration, time allocation
    JEL: J13 J15 J16 J22
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Daniel S. Hamermesh
    Abstract: Using the 2012-13 American Time Use Survey, I find that both who people spend time with and how they spend it affect their happiness, adjusted for numerous demographic and economic variables. Satisfaction among married individuals increases most with additional time spent with spouse. Among singles, satisfaction decreases most as more time is spent alone. Assuming that lock-downs constrain married people to spend time solely with their spouses, simulations show that their happiness may have been increased compared to before the lock-downs; but sufficiently large losses of work time and income reverse this inference. Simulations demonstrate clearly that, assuming lock-downs impose solitude on singles, their happiness was reduced, reductions that are made more severe by income and work losses.
    JEL: I12 I31 J22
    Date: 2020–04
  3. By: Ho Fai Chan; Ahmed Skali; David Savage; David Stadelmann; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: Behavioural responses to pandemics are less shaped by actual mortality or hospitalization risks than they are by risk attitudes. We explore human mobility patterns as a measure of behavioural responses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our results indicate a strong negative relationship between mobility reduction and risk-taking preferences. We find that the sharp decline in movement after the WHO (World Health Organization) declared COVID-19 to be a pandemic can be attributed to risk attitudes, especially for visits to places classified as retail and recreation, transit stations and workplaces. This suggests that individuals with risk-averse attitudes are more likely to adjust their behavioural activity in response to the declaration of a pandemic even prior to most official government lockdowns. We also find regions with higher risk aversion report a larger relative reduction in frequency of visits to places such as retail shops, grocery stores, parks, and public transport during the weekends compared to weekdays, whereas risk-loving regions are more likely to go to workplaces and less likely to stay at home during the weekends. There is also evidence to suggest that in areas with a larger share of older people in the population, risk-loving individuals are more likely to restrain themselves from taking public transport, engaging in non-essential retail shopping, going to workplaces, and staying home. Finally, we also find that the rate of behavioural adjustment, measured as the effect of mobility change after the first recorded death in the country, is sharper when the population have a larger risk pool population independent of government lockdowns.
    Date: 2020–04
  4. By: Roberto Chang; Andrés Velasco
    Abstract: The Covid-19 pandemic has motivated a myriad of studies and proposals on how economic policy should respond to this colossal shock. But in this debate it is seldom recognized that the health shock is not entirely exogenous. Its magnitude and dynamics themselves depend on economic policies, and the explicit or implicit incentives those policies provide. To illuminate the feedback loops between medical and economic factors we develop a minimal economic model of pandemics. In the model, as in reality, individual decisions to comply (or not) with virus-related public health directives depend on economic variables and incentives, which themselves respond to current economic policy and expectations of future policies. The analysis yields several practical lessons: because policies affect the speed of virus transmission via incentives, public health measures and economic policies can complement each other, reducing the cost of attaining desired social goals; expectations of expansionary macroeconomic policies during the recovery phase can help reduce the speed of infection, and hence the size of the health shock; the credibility of announced policies is key to rule out both self-fulfilling pessimistic expectations and time inconsistency problems. The analysis also yields a critique of the current use of SIR models for policy evaluation, in the spirit of Lucas (1983).
    JEL: E6 F4 H12
    Date: 2020–04

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