nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2022‒04‒11
four papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
Universidad de la República

  1. The Female Happiness Paradox By David G. Blanchflower; Alex Bryson
  2. The Inequality (or the Growth) We Measure: Data Gaps and the Distribution of Incomes By Alvaredo, Facundo; De Rosa, Mauricio; Flores, Ignacio; Morgan, Marc
  3. Out of Labor and Into the Labor Force? The Role of Abortion Access, Social Stigma, and Financial Constraints By Nina Brooks; Tom Zohar
  4. Unions and Inequality Over the Twentieth Century: New Evidence from Survey Data By Henry S. Farber; Daniel Herbst; Ilyana Kuziemko; Suresh Naidu

  1. By: David G. Blanchflower (Bruce V. Rauner Professor of Economics, Dartmouth College, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow; NBER and Bloomberg); Alex Bryson (University College London; IZA, Bonn; NIESR, London)
    Abstract: Using data across countries and over time we show that women are unhappier than men in unhappiness and negative affect equations, irrespective of the measure used – anxiety, depression, fearfulness, sadness, loneliness, anger – and they have more days with bad mental health and more restless sleep. Women are also less satisfied with many aspects of their lives such as democracy, the economy, the state of education and health services. They are also less happy in the moment in terms of peace and calm, cheerfulness, feeling active, vigorous, fresh and rested. However, prior evidence on gender differences in happiness and life satisfaction is less clear cut. Differences vary over time, location, and with model specification and the inclusion of controls especially marital status. We also show that there are significant variations by month in happiness data regarding whether males are happier than females but find little variation by month in unhappiness data. It matters which months are sampled when measuring positive affect but not with negative affect. These monthly data reveal that women’s happiness was more adversely affected by the COVID shock than men’s, but also that women’s happiness rebounded more quickly suggesting resilience. As a result, we now find strong evidence that males have higher levels of both happiness and life satisfaction in recent years even before the onset of pandemic. As in the past they continue to have lower levels of unhappiness. A detailed analysis of several data files, with various metrics, for the UK confirms that men now are happier than women.
    Keywords: happiness; subjective wellbeing; life satisfaction; gender
    JEL: J16 I31
    Date: 2022–04–01
  2. By: Alvaredo, Facundo; De Rosa, Mauricio; Flores, Ignacio; Morgan, Marc
    Abstract: There is a large gap between income estimates used in inequality studies and macroeconomic statistics. This makes it hard to assess how economic growth is distributed across the population, and to what extent mainstream distributional statistics are an accurate representation of income flows. We take stock of these discrepancies by confronting estimates of the income distribution from surveys, administrative records and aggregates from the system of national accounts, thoroughly documenting them over the past two decades for ten Latin American countries. We find that surveys only account for around half of the macroeconomic income in the region. Measurement gaps account for just over half of the overall gap on average, while the rest is due to conceptual differences across data sets. Measurement gaps have been growing fast for many countries, the bulk being due to non-covered capital income. We also compare the top tails in administrative data and surveys, finding diverging averages—especially for non-wage incomes—and different shapes. We discuss the degree to which inequality levels and trends could be affected. (Stone Center on Socio-Economic Inequality Working Paper)
    Date: 2022–03–23
  3. By: Nina Brooks (University of Connecticut); Tom Zohar (CEMFI, Centro de Estudios Monetarios y Financieros)
    Abstract: This paper studies the effects of abortion access on fertility and women’s career outcomes. To establish causality, we leverage a policy change that in 2014 increased the eligibility age cutoff for free abortion in Israel. We use newly constructed administrative data that allows us to track abortions, births, employment, earnings, and formal education for the universe of Israeli women over a seven-year period. We show that access to free abortion increases the abortion rate but does not increase conceptions. Instead, the result is driven by more abortions among poor women who live in religious communities in which abortion is socially stigmatized. This finding suggests that when abortion is free, poor women do not need to consult family members for financial support, which allows them to have an abortion in private. In the medium-run, access to free abortion delays parenthood, increases human capital investment, and shifts employment towards the white-collar sector, suggesting a large career opportunity cost of unplanned parenthood. Finally, by using observable information on the women we suggest alternative policies that improve targeting of financially constrained women.
    JEL: I11 I12 I18 J13
    Date: 2021–11
  4. By: Henry S. Farber (Princeton University); Daniel Herbst (Eller College of Management); Ilyana Kuziemko (Princeton University); Suresh Naidu (Columbia University)
    Abstract: It is well-documented that, since at least the early twentieth century, U.S. income inequality has varied inversely with union density. But moving beyond this aggregate relationship has proven difficult, in part because of the absence of micro-level data on union membership prior to 1973. We develop a new source of micro-data on union membership, opinion polls primarily from Gallup (N ≈ 980, 000), to look at the effects of unions on inequality from 1936 to the present. First, we present a new time series of household union membership from this period. Second, we use these data to show that, throughout this period, union density is inversely correlated with the relative skill of union members. When density was at its peak in the 1950s and 1960s, union members were relatively less-skilled, whereas today and in the pre-World War II period, union members are equally skilled as non-members. Third, we estimate union household income premiums over this same period, finding that despite large changes in union density and selection, the premium holds steady, at roughly 15–20 log points, over the past eighty years. Finally, we present a number of direct results that, across a variety of identifying assumptions, suggest unions have had a significant, equalizing effect on the income distribution over our long sample period.
    Keywords: Economic policy, Labor force, Employment, Social conditions and trends
    JEL: J51 N32
    Date: 2021–04

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