Demography, family, and gender

Population characteristics strongly predict labor market success. One of the biggest economic changes has been the rise of women in the labor market. The upcoming demographic imbalances suggest substantial adjustment processes on labor markets around the globe. The articles in this subject area provide evidence relating the role of demography in social, cultural, and biological processes to their effects on worker well-being.

  • The gender gap in time allocation

    Gender inequalities in daily time allocation may have detrimental effects on earnings and well-being

    Many countries experience gender differences, of various magnitudes, in the time devoted to paid work (e.g. market work time) and unpaid work (e.g. housework and childcare). Since household responsibilities influence the participation of women, especially mothers, in the labor market, the unequal sharing of unpaid work, with women bearing the brunt of housework and childcare, is one of the main drivers of gender inequality in the labor market. Understanding the factors behind these gender inequalities is crucial for constructing policies aimed at promoting gender equality and combating gender-based discrimination.
  • Parental leave and maternal labor supply Updated

    Parental leave increases the family–work balance, but prolonged leave may have negative impacts on mothers’ careers

    Astrid Kunze, June 2022
    Numerous studies have investigated whether the provision and generosity of parental leave affects the employment and career prospects of women. Parental leave systems typically provide either short unpaid leave mandated by the firm, as in the US, or more generous and universal leave mandated by the government, as in Canada and several European countries. Key economic policy questions include whether, at the macro level, female employment rates have increased due to parental leave policies; and, at the micro level, whether the probability of returning to work and career prospects have increased for mothers after childbirth.
  • Measuring poverty within the household

    Standard poverty measures may drastically understate the problem; the collective household model can help

    A key element of anti-poverty policy is the accurate identification of poor individuals. However, measuring poverty at the individual level is difficult since consumption data are typically collected at the household level. Per capita measures based on household-level data ignore both inequality within the household and economies of scale in consumption. The collective household model offers an alternative and promising framework to estimate poverty at the individual level while accounting for both inequality within the household and economies of scale in consumption.
  • Presenteeism at the workplace

    Working when sick is a widespread phenomenon with serious consequences for workers, firms, and society

    Claus Schnabel, May 2022
    Many workers admit that at times they show up for work even though they feel sick. This behavior, termed “presenteeism,” is puzzling since most workers do not incur financial losses when staying home sick. The various reasons behind presenteeism are person-related (e.g. individuals’ health or job attitude) or work-related (e.g. job demands and constraints on absence from work). Working when sick can have positive and negative consequences for workers’ performance and health, but it also affects co-workers’ well-being and firms’ productivity. There are various strategies as to how firms can address presenteeism.
  • Economic effects of natural disasters

    Natural disasters cause significant short-term disruptions, but longer-term economic impacts are more complex

    Tatyana Deryugina, April 2022
    Extreme weather events are increasing in frequency and intensity, threatening lives and livelihoods around the world. Understanding the short- and long-term effects of such events is necessary for crafting optimal policy. The short-term economic impacts of natural disasters can be severe, suggesting that policies that better insure against consumption losses during this time would be beneficial. Longer-term economic impacts are more complex and depend on the characteristics of the affected population and the affected area, changes in migration patterns, and public policy.
  • Youth extracurricular activities and the importance of social skills for supervisors

    Social skills developed during extracurricular activities in adolescence can be highly valuable in managerial occupations

    Vasilios D. Kosteas, March 2022
    Youth participation in extracurricular activities is associated with a variety of benefits, ranging from higher concurrent academic performance to better labor market outcomes. In particular, these activities provide avenues through which youth can develop the interpersonal and leadership skills that are crucial to succeed as a manager. A lack of opportunity to participate in extracurricular activities for many youths, particularly those from lower-income backgrounds, may have negative consequences for developing the next generation of managers and business leaders.
  • The quantity–quality fertility–education trade-off Updated

    Policies to reduce fertility in developing countries generally boost education levels, but only slightly

    Haoming LiuLi Li, March 2022
    At the national level, it has long been observed that a country's average education level is negatively associated with its total fertility rate. At the household level, it has also been well documented that children's education is negatively associated with the number of children in the family. Do these observations imply a causal relationship between the number of children and the average education level (the quantity–quality trade-off)? A clear answer to this question will help both policymakers and researchers evaluate the total benefit of family planning policies, both policies to lower fertility and policies to boost it.
  • Women’s labor force participation Updated

    Family-friendly policies increase women’s labor force participation, benefiting them, their families, and society at large

    Anne E. Winkler, February 2022
    Female labor force participation is mainly driven by the value of their market wages versus the value of their non-market time. Labor force participation varies considerably across countries. To understand this international variation, it is important to further consider differences across countries in institutions, non-economic factors such as cultural norms, and public policies. Such differences provide important insights into what actions countries might take to further increase women's participation in the labor market.
  • The relationship between recessions and health Updated

    Economic recessions seem to reduce overall mortality rates, but increase suicides and mental health problems

    Nick Drydakis, December 2021
    Recessions are complex events that affect personal health and behavior via various potentially opposing mechanisms. While recessions are known to have negative effects on mental health and lead to an increase in suicides, it has been proven that they reduce mortality rates. A general health policy agenda in relation to recessions remains ambiguous due to the lack of consistency between different individual- and country-level approaches. However, aggregate regional patterns provide valuable information, and local social planners could use them to design region-specific policy responses to mitigate the negative health effects caused by recessions.
  • Should divorce be easier or harder? Updated

    The evidence, though weak, favors legal, easy, unilateral divorce

    Many countries have enacted legislation over the past few decades making divorce easier. Some countries have legalized divorce where it had previously been banned, and many have eased the conditions required for a divorce, such as allowing unilateral divorce (both spouses do not have to agree on the divorce). Divorce laws can regulate the grounds for divorce, division of property, child custody, and child support or maintenance payments. Reforms can have a range of social effects beyond increasing the divorce rate. They can influence female labor supply, marriage and fertility rates, child well-being, household saving, and even domestic violence and crime.
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