nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2020‒07‒13
nine papers chosen by

  1. COVID-19, Lockdowns and Well-Being: Evidence from Google Trends By Brodeur, Abel; Clark, Andrew E.; Fleche, Sarah; Powdthavee, Nattavudh
  2. Occupational Sorting and Wage Gaps of Refugees By Baum, Christopher F.; Lööf, Hans; Stephan, Andreas; Zimmermann, Klaus F.
  3. Children, Unhappiness and Family Finances By Blanchflower, David G.; Clark, Andrew E.
  4. Inequality in Personality over the Life Cycle By Gensowski, Miriam; Gørtz, Mette; Schurer, Stefanie
  5. COVID-19 and The Rise of Intimate Partner Violence By Jorge M. Agüero
  6. Cash Transfer Programs and Household Labor Supply By Del Boca, Daniela; Pronzato, Chiara; Sorrenti, Giuseppe
  7. Males at the Tails: How Socioeconomic Status Shapes the Gender Gap By David Autor; David N. Figlio; Krzysztof Karbownik; Jeffrey Roth; Melanie Wasserman
  8. Performance Feedback and Peer Effects By Marie Claire Villeval
  9. Genetic Risks, Adolescent Health and Schooling Attainment By Vikesh Amin; Jere R. Behrman; Jason M. Fletcher; Carlos A. Flores; Alfonso Flores-Lagunes; Hans-Peter Kohler

  1. By: Brodeur, Abel; Clark, Andrew E.; Fleche, Sarah; Powdthavee, Nattavudh
    Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has led many governments to implement lockdowns. While lockdowns may help to contain the spread of the virus, they may result in substantial damage to population well-being. We use Google Trends data to test whether the lockdowns implemented in Europe and America led to changes in well-being related topic search terms. Using differences-in-differences and a regression discontinuity design to evaluate the causal effects of lockdown, we find a substantial increase in the search intensity for boredom in Europe and the US. We also found a significant increase in searches for loneliness, worry and sadness, while searches for stress, suicide and divorce on the contrary fell. Our results suggest that people's mental health may have been severely affected by the lockdown.
    Keywords: Boredom,COVID-19,Loneliness,Well-being
    JEL: I12 I31 J22
    Date: 2020
  2. By: Baum, Christopher F.; Lööf, Hans; Stephan, Andreas; Zimmermann, Klaus F.
    Abstract: Refugee workers start low and adjust slowly to the wages of comparable natives. The innovative approach in this study using unique Swedish employeremployee data shows that the observed wage gap between established refugees and comparable natives is mainly caused by occupational sorting into cognitive and manual tasks. Within occupations, it can be largely explained by differences in work experience. The identification strategy relies on a control group of matched natives with the same characteristics as the refugees, using panel data for 2003–2013 to capture unobserved heterogeneity.
    Keywords: refugees,wage earnings gap,Blinder–Oaxaca decomposition,employer-employee data,coarsened exact matching,correlated random effects model
    JEL: C23 F22 J24 J6 O15
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Blanchflower, David G.; Clark, Andrew E.
    Abstract: The common finding of a zero or negative correlation between the presence of children and parental well-being continues to generate research interest. We here consider international data, including well over one million observations on Europeans from eleven years of Eurobarometer surveys, and in the first instance replicate this negative finding, both in the overall data and then for most different marital statuses. Children are expensive: controlling for financial difficulties turns our estimated child coefficients positive. We argue that difficulties paying the bills explains the pattern of existing results by parental education and income, and country income and social support. Last, we underline that not all children are the same, with stepchildren commonly having a more negative correlation than children from the current relationship.
    Keywords: Children,subjective well-being,age,financial difficulties,Eurobarometer
    JEL: D14 I31 J13
    Date: 2020
  4. By: Gensowski, Miriam (University of Copenhagen); Gørtz, Mette (University of Copenhagen); Schurer, Stefanie (University of Sydney)
    Abstract: We describe gender and socioeconomic inequalities in the Big Five personality traits over the life cycle, using a facet-level inventory linked to administrative data. We estimate life-cycle profiles non-parametrically and test for cohort and sample-selection effects. We discuss the economic implications of the following findings: Women of all ages score more highly than men on all personality traits, including three that are positively associated with wages; Individuals with high own or parental education have more favorable traits except Conscientiousness; Over the life cycle, gender and socioeconomic gaps widen in Openness and shrink in Neuroticism, a trait associated with worse outcomes.
    Keywords: inequality, socio-emotional skills, personality traits, Big Five facets, life cycle dynamics, gender gap, intergenerational transmission
    JEL: J24 I24 J62 I31 J16
    Date: 2020–06
  5. By: Jorge M. Agüero (University of Connecticut)
    Abstract: Stay-at-home policies have been implemented worldwide to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. However, there is a growing concern that such policies could increase violence against women. We find evidence in support of this critical concern. We focus on Peru, a country that imposed a strong lockdown starting on mid-March and where nearly two-thirds of women already experienced violence before COVID-19. Using administrative data on phone calls to the national helpline for domestic violence (Línea 100) and a difference-in-difference approach, we find that the incidence rate of the calls during the lockdown is nine percent larger than in previous periods and that the rise in phone calls has accelerated as the lockdown continues. We also uncover an important heterogenous pattern. We construct a stay-at-home index using Google’s mobility measures and show that the increase is driven by states where the lockdown has been more pronounced, which more than doubles the incidence rate of calls to the Línea 100. These findings reinforce the need to identify policy options to combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus without affecting women’s safety.
    Keywords: Intimate partner violence, domestic violence, lockdowns, Peru, COVID-19
    Date: 2020–07
  6. By: Del Boca, Daniela; Pronzato, Chiara; Sorrenti, Giuseppe
    Abstract: Employment helps reduce the risk of poverty. Through a randomized controlled trial, we evaluate the impact of a conditional cash transfer (CCT) program to low-income families with dependent children on household members' labor supply. Recipients are required to attend labor-market-oriented mentoring courses as a condition of the transfer. One year after admission to the program, fathers assigned to the CCT program are more likely to work (+14 percent) than fathers assigned to an unconditional cash transfer program or to a pure control group. No effect arises for mothers. Results seem to be explained by improved family networks and increased parental investments in activities that enhance labor market opportunities.
    Keywords: conditional cash transfers; Household Labor Supply; mentoring courses; poverty
    JEL: I10 I20 I31 J24
    Date: 2020–03
  7. By: David Autor; David N. Figlio; Krzysztof Karbownik; Jeffrey Roth; Melanie Wasserman
    Abstract: Analyzing Florida birth certificates matched to school records, we document that the female advantage in childhood behavioral and academic outcomes is driven by gender gaps at the extremes of the outcome distribution. Using unconditional quantile regression, we investigate whether family socioeconomic status (SES) differentially affects the lower tail outcomes of boys. We find that the differential effects of family SES on boys’ outcomes are concentrated in the parts of the distribution where the gender gaps are most pronounced. Accounting for the disproportionate effects of family environment on boys at the tails substantially narrows the gender gap in high school dropout.
    JEL: I24 J12 J13 J16
    Date: 2020–05
  8. By: Marie Claire Villeval (Univ Lyon, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), GATE UMR 5824, 93 Chemin des Mouilles, F-69130, Ecully, France. IZA, Bonn, Germany)
    Abstract: This paper reviews studies conducted in naturally-occurring work environments or in the laboratory on the impact of performance feedback provision and peer effects on individuals’ performance. First, it discusses to which extent feedback on absolute performance affects individuals’ effort for cognitive or motivational reasons, and how evaluations can be distorted strategically. Second, this paper highlights the positive and negative effects of feedback on relative performance and rank on individuals’ productivity and persistence, but also on the occurrence of anti-social behavior. Relative feedback stimulates effort by informing on the marginal return or the marginal cost of effort, and by activating behavioral forces even in the absence of monetary incentives. These behavioral mechanisms relate to self-esteem, status concerns, competitive preferences and social learning. Relative feedback sometimes discourages or distorts effort, notably if people collude or are disappointment averse. In addition to incentive schemes and social preferences, the management of self-confidence affects the way relative feedback impacts productivity. Third, the paper addresses the question of the identification of peer effects on employees’ performance, their size, their direction and their heterogeneity along the hierarchy. The mechanisms behind peer effects include conformism, social pressure, rivalry, social learning and distributional preferences, depending on the presence of payoff externalities or technological and organizational externalities.
    Keywords: Feedback, performance, peer effects
    JEL: C9 D91 J3 M5
    Date: 2020
  9. By: Vikesh Amin (Central Michigan University); Jere R. Behrman (University of Pennsylvania); Jason M. Fletcher (University of Wisconsin-Madison, NBER, and IZA); Carlos A. Flores (California Polytechnic State University); Alfonso Flores-Lagunes (Syracuse University, IZA, and GLO); Hans-Peter Kohler (University of Pennsylvania)
    Abstract: We provide new evidence on the effect of adolescent health behaviors/outcomes (obesity, depression, smoking, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)) on schooling attainment using the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. We take two different approaches to deal with omitted variable bias and reverse causality. Our first approach attends to the issue of reverse causality by using health polygenic scores (PGSs) as proxies for actual adolescent health. Second, we estimate the effect of adolescent health using sibling fixed-effects models that control for unmeasured genetic and family factors shared by siblings. We use the PGSs as additional controls in the sibling fixed-effects models to reduce concerns about residual confounding from sibling-specific genetic differences. We find consistent evidence across both approaches that being genetically predisposed to smoking and smoking regularly in adolescence reduces schooling attainment. We find mixed evidence for ADHD. Our estimates suggest that having a high genetic risk for ADHD reduces grades of schooling, but we do not find any statistically significant negative effects of ADHD on grades of schooling. Finally, results from both approaches show no consistent evidence for a detrimental effect of obesity or depression on schooling attainment.
    Keywords: adolescent health; polygenic scores; education
    JEL: I21 I10
    Date: 2020–06–28

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