nep-ltv New Economics Papers
on Unemployment, Inequality and Poverty
Issue of 2022‒10‒10
six papers chosen by
Maximo Rossi
Universidad de la República

  1. Intergenerational Transmission of Family Influence By Sadegh Eshaghnia; James J. Heckman; Rasmus Landersø; Rafeh Qureshi
  2. The Midlife Crisis By Osea Giuntella; Sally McManus; Redzo Mujcic; Andrew J. Oswald; Nattavudh Powdthavee; Ahmed Tohamy
  3. Gender Discrimination and the Sex Ratio of Immigrants By Lach, Saul; Sicherman, Nachum
  4. The Social Tax: Redistributive Pressure and Labor Supply By Eliana Carranza; Aletheia Donald; Florian Grosset; Supreet Kaur
  5. Using Administrative Data to Impute Income Non-Response in Household Surveys By V. Kerry Smith; Michael P. Welsh; Richard Carson; Stanley Presser
  6. Depression and Loneliness Among the Elderly Poor By Abhijit Banerjee; Esther Duflo; Erin Grela; Madeline McKelway; Frank Schilbach; Garima Sharma; Girija Vaidyanathan

  1. By: Sadegh Eshaghnia; James J. Heckman; Rasmus Landersø; Rafeh Qureshi
    Abstract: This paper studies intergenerational mobility—the transmission of family influence. We develop and estimate measures of lifetime resources (income and wealth) motivated by economic theory that account for generational differences in life-cycle trajectories, uncertainty, and credit constraints. These measures of lifetime resources allow us to estimate the transmission of welfare and lifetime resources at different stages of the life cycle. We compare these measures with traditional ones such as wage income and disposable income measured over narrow windows of age that are used to proxy lifetime wealth. The performance of proxy measures is poor. Parents’ expected lifetime resources are stronger predictors of many important child outcomes (including children’s own expected lifetime resources and education) than the income measures traditionally used in the literature on social mobility. Changes in patterns of educational attainment across generations explain most of the intergenerational change in life-cycle dynamics. While relative mobility is overstated by the traditional income measures, absolute upward mobility is understated. Recent generations have higher welfare and are better off compared to their parents.
    JEL: D31 I24 I30
    Date: 2022–09
  2. By: Osea Giuntella; Sally McManus; Redzo Mujcic; Andrew J. Oswald; Nattavudh Powdthavee; Ahmed Tohamy
    Abstract: This paper documents a longitudinal crisis of midlife among the inhabitants of rich nations. Yet middle-aged citizens in our data sets are close to their peak earnings, have typically experienced little or no illness, reside in some of the safest countries in the world, and live in the most prosperous era in human history. This is paradoxical and troubling. The finding is consistent, however, with the prediction – one little-known to economists – of Elliott Jaques (1965). Our analysis does not rest on elementary cross-sectional analysis. Instead the paper uses panel and through-time data on, in total, approximately 500,000 individuals. It checks that the key results are not due to cohort effects. Nor do we rely on simple life-satisfaction measures. The paper shows that there are approximately quadratic hill-shaped patterns in data on midlife suicide, sleeping problems, alcohol dependence, concentration difficulties, memory problems, intense job strain, disabling headaches, suicidal feelings, and extreme depression. We believe the seriousness of this societal problem has not been grasped by the affluent world’s policy-makers.
    JEL: I12 I14 I31
    Date: 2022–09
  3. By: Lach, Saul (Hebrew University, Jerusalem); Sicherman, Nachum (Columbia University)
    Abstract: We use data on international migration to study the causal effect of gender discrimination on the sex-ratio of immigrants to the U.S. during the 1970-2019 period. We measure gender discrimination in the countries of origin using the Women, Business, and the Law (WBL) index, which measures legal differences in access to economic opportunities between men and women. Controlling for country fixed effects and regional time trends, as well as for potentially confounding factors, we find that a one standard deviation increase in the WBL index in a country of origin (a decrease in gender discrimination) decreases the share of women immigrating to the U.S. from that country by 1.7 percentage points, on average. This large effect of gender discrimination on the sex ratio of immigrants is robust to specification changes, and is not significant when examining senior citizens.
    Keywords: gender discrimination, sex-ratios, international migration
    JEL: F22 J16
    Date: 2022–08
  4. By: Eliana Carranza; Aletheia Donald; Florian Grosset; Supreet Kaur
    Abstract: In low-income communities, pressure to share income with others may disincentivize work, distorting labor supply. We document that across countries, social groups that undertake more interpersonal transfers work fewer hours. Using a field experiment, we enable piece-rate factory workers in Côte d’Ivoire to shield income using blocked savings accounts over 3-9 months. Workers may only deposit earnings increases, relative to baseline, mitigating income effects on labor supply. We vary whether the offered account is private or known to the worker’s network, altering the likelihood of transfer requests against saved income. When accounts are private, take-up is substantively higher (60% vs. 14%). Offering private accounts sharply increases labor supply—raising work attendance by 10% and earnings by 11%. Outgoing transfers do not decline, indicating no loss in redistribution. Our estimates imply a 9-14% social tax rate. The welfare benefits of informal redistribution may come at a cost, depressing labor supply and productivity.
    JEL: H0 J0 O1 O4 O55
    Date: 2022–09
  5. By: V. Kerry Smith; Michael P. Welsh; Richard Carson; Stanley Presser
    Abstract: Income is simultaneously one of the most important variables used by economists and the variable most likely to be missing due to item non-response. While observations that are missing income responses are often dropped from analyses, such treatment is usually inappropriate. More appropriate solutions rely on imputation based on either covariates (e.g., age and education) measured in the survey or on spatial estimates (most often for zip codes) from the American Community Survey. We describe a new spatially-based alternative using publicly available Internal Revenue Service tax data that allows estimates of zip code’s income distribution.
    JEL: C0 C8
    Date: 2022–09
  6. By: Abhijit Banerjee; Esther Duflo; Erin Grela; Madeline McKelway; Frank Schilbach; Garima Sharma; Girija Vaidyanathan
    Abstract: The mental health of the elderly in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) is a largely neglected subject, both by policy and research. We combine data from the health and retirement family of surveys in seven LMICs (plus the US) to document that depressive symptoms among those aged 55 and above are more prevalent in those countries and increase sharply with age. Depressive symptoms in one survey wave are associated with a greater decline in functional abilities and higher probability of death in the next wave. Using data from a panel survey we conducted in Tamil Nadu with a focus on elderly living alone, we document that social isolation, poverty, and health challenges are three of the leading correlates of depression. We discuss potential policy interventions in these three domains, including some results from our randomized control trials in the Tamil Nadu sample.
    JEL: I15 I3 O1
    Date: 2022–09

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