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.
Air pollution and worker productivity Updated
Higher levels of air pollution reduce worker productivity, even when air quality is generally lowMatthew NeidellNico Pestel, February 2023Environmental regulations are typically considered to be a drag on the economy. However, improved environmental quality may actually enhance productivity by creating a healthier workforce. Evidence suggests that improvements in air quality lead to improvements in worker productivity at the micro level across a range of sectors, including agriculture, manufacturing, and the service sectors, as well as at more aggregate macro levels. These effects also arise at levels of air quality that are below pollution thresholds in countries with the highest levels of environmental regulation. The findings suggest a new approach for understanding the consequences of environmental regulations.MoreLess
Air pollution, educational achievements, and human capital formation
Exposure to elevated levels of air pollution adversely affects educational outcomesSefi Roth, August 2017The link between air pollution and human health is well-documented in the epidemiology and economic literature. Recently, an increasing body of research has shown that air pollution—even in relatively low doses—also affects educational outcomes across several distinct age groups and varying lengths of exposure. This implies that a narrow focus on traditional health outcomes, such as morbidity and mortality, may understate the true benefit of reducing pollution, as air pollution also affects scholastic achievement and human capital formation.MoreLess
Alcoholism and mortality in Eastern Europe Updated
Excessive drinking is the main cause of high male mortality rates, but the problem can be addressedEvgeny Yakovlev, August 2021Eastern European countries, particularly former Soviet Union economies, traditionally have the highest rates of alcohol consumption in the world. Consequently, they also have some of the highest male mortality rates in the world. Regulation can be effective in significantly decreasing excessive drinking and its related negative effects, such as low labor productivity and high rates of mortality. Understanding the consequences of specific regulatory measures and what tools should be used to combat excessive alcohol consumption is essential for designing effective policies.MoreLess
Are immigrants healthier than native residents?
Immigrants tend to be healthier than native residents when they arrive—an advantage that dissipates with timeShoshana Neuman, December 2014In common anti-immigrant rhetoric, concerns are raised that immigrants bring diseases with them to the host country that threaten the health of the resident population. In reality, extensive empirical research over several decades and across multiple regions and host countries has documented that when immigrants arrive in the host country they are healthier than native residents, a phenomenon termed the “healthy immigrant effect.” This initial advantage deteriorates with time spent in the host country, however, and immigrants’ health status converges toward (or below) that of native residents.MoreLess
Are married immigrant women secondary workers?
Patterns of labor market assimilation for married immigrant women are similar to those for menAna Ferrer, January 2015What is the role of married women in immigrant households? Their contribution to the labor market has traditionally been considered of secondary importance and studied in the framework of temporary attachment to the labor force to support the household around the time of arrival. But this role has changed. Evidence from major immigrant-receiving countries suggests that married immigrant women make labor supply decisions similar to those recently observed for native-born married women, who are guided by their own opportunities in the labor market rather than by their spouses’ employment trajectories.MoreLess
Beauty pays but does investment in beauty?
Despite the large returns from an attractive appearance, the cost-effectiveness of investment in beauty is ambiguousSoohyung Lee, October 2015Being beautiful gives a person an advantage in many settings. Attractive people earn more and have an easier time getting hired. People spend large amounts of money on goods and services to enhance their beauty. Is this enhancement worth pursuing? Research suggests that the expected improvement in beauty from these goods and services is limited. Therefore, despite the large returns from having an attractive appearance, the cost-effectiveness of investment in beauty enhancement is ambiguous. For the average person, the monetary benefits of plastic surgery, medical treatments to increase height, and expensive clothing are not worth the cost.MoreLess
Can government policies reverse undesirable declines in fertility?
Government policies can have a modest effect on raising fertility—but broader social changes lowering fertility are strongerElizabeth Brainerd, May 2014Since 1989 fertility and family formation have declined sharply in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Fertility rates are converging on—and sometimes falling below—rates in Western Europe, most of which are below replacement levels. Concerned about a shrinking and aging population and strains on pension systems, governments are using incentives to encourage people to have more children. These policies seem only modestly effective in countering the impacts of widespread social changes, including new work opportunities for women and stronger incentives to invest in education.MoreLess
Can universal preschool increase the labor supply of mothers?
The success of universal preschool education depends crucially on the policy parameters and specific country contextSarah Cattan, November 2016Since the 1970s, many countries have established free or highly subsidized education for all preschool children in the hope of improving children’s learning and socio-economic life chances and encouraging mothers to join the labor force. Evaluations reveal that these policies can increase maternal employment in the short term and may continue to do so even after the child is no longer in preschool by enabling mothers to gain more job skills and increase their attachment to the labor force. However, their effectiveness depends on the policy design, the country context, and the characteristics of mothers of preschoolers.MoreLess