J - Labor and Demographic Economics
Labor and Demographic Economics
We document three facts about the labor supply of Kenyan bicycle-taxi drivers: (1) drivers work more on days with higher cash needs; (2) the quitting hazard increases once the day’s need is reached; but (3) randomized cash payouts have no meaningful effect on labor supply. These results are consistent with models in which workers have reference-dependent preferences over earned income targets. A calibration exercise suggests that workers with such preferences earn 19% more than they would with neoclassical preferences.
We estimate the aggregate productivity gains from reducing barriers to internal labor migration in Indonesia, accounting for worker selection and spatial differences in human capital. We distinguish between movement costs, which mean workers will only move if they expect higher wages, and amenity differences, which mean some locations must pay more to attract workers. We find modest but important aggregate impacts. We estimate a 22% increase in labor productivity from removing all barriers. Reducing migration costs to the U.S.
Can forced assimilation policies successfully integrate immigrant groups? This paper examines how a specific assimilation policy – language restrictions in elementary school – affects integration and identification with the host country later in life. After World War I, several U.S. states barred the German language from their schools. I find that affected individuals were less likely to volunteer in WWII and more likely to marry within their ethnic group and to choose decidedly German names for their offspring.
Do search frictions constrain the labour market prospects of young workers? We conduct a randomised evaluation of two programmes designed to lower spatial and informational barriers to job search among 4,000 young Ethiopians. One group of subjects receives a transport subsidy. Another group participates in a workshop where their skills are certified and they receive training on how to make effective job applications. We find that both treatments significantly improve the quality of the jobs young workers obtain, and the effects are strongest for the most disadvantaged job-seekers.
Expanded international data from the PIACC survey of adult skills allow us to analyze potential sources of the cross-country variation of comparably estimated labor-market returns to skills in a more diverse set of 32 countries. Returns to skills are systematically larger in countries that have grown faster in the recent past, consistent with models where skills are particularly important for adaption to dynamic economic change.
International differences in teacher quality are commonly hypothesized to be a key determinant of the large international student performance gaps, but lack of consistent quality measures has precluded testing this. Using unique assessment data, we construct country-level measures of teacher cognitive skills. We find substantial differences in teacher cognitive skills across countries, and these are strongly related to student performance. Results are supported by fixed-effects estimation exploiting within-country between-subject variation in teacher skills.
How integrated are labor markets within a country? Labor mobility is key to the integration of local labor markets and therefore to understanding the efficacy of policies to reduce regional inequality. We present a comprehensive framework for understanding migration decisions, focusing on the costs of migrating. We construct and then estimate a spatial equilibrium model where mobility is determined not only by idiosyncratic tastes, but also by moving costs that are origin-destination dependent.
There is longstanding debate in population policy about the relationship between modern contraception and abortion. Although theory predicts that they should be substitutes, the existing body of empirical evidence is difficult to interpret. What is required is a large-scale intervention that alters the supply (or full price) of one or the other – and importantly, does so in isolation (reproductive health programs often bundle primary health care and family planning – and in some instances, abortion services).
We present results of a randomized trial testing alternative approaches of mapping student achievement into rewards for teachers. Teachers in 216 schools in western China were assigned to performance pay schemes where teacher performance was assessed by one of three different methods. We find that teachers offered “pay-for-percentile” incentives (Barlevy and Neal 2012) outperform teachers offered simpler schemes based on class average achievement or average gains over a school year. Moreover, pay-for-percentile incentives produced broad-based gains across students within classes.
In spite of the large expected costs of needing long-term care, only 10-12 percent of the elderly population has private insurance coverage. Medicaid, which provides means-tested public assistance and pays for almost half of long-term care costs, spends more than $100 billion annually on long-term care. In this paper, I exploit variation in the adoption and generosity of state tax subsidies for private long-term care insurance to determine whether tax subsidies increase private coverage and reduce Medicaid's costs for long-term care.