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.

  • Female poverty and intrahousehold inequality in transition economies Updated

    An unequal distribution of resources within the family is a special concern for female poverty

    Luca Piccoli, February 2023
    Transition to a market economy is accompanied by a period of greater economic uncertainty. Women are likely to suffer substantial disadvantages from this uncertainty compared to men as they are, for example, more likely to lose their job. This not only implies a monetary loss for the entire family, but also degrades female bargaining power within the household, possibly further aggravating their well-being. When intrahousehold inequality—an unequal distribution of resources among family members—exists, female poverty might be significantly larger than what can be deduced using standard household-based poverty measures.
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  • Covid-19 and the youth-to-adult unemployment gap

    Is the youth labor market bearing the brunt of the pandemic?

    Francesco Pastore, January 2023
    The Covid-19 pandemic has produced unprecedented negative effects on the global economy, affecting both the demand and supply side. Its consequences in terms of job losses have been important in many European countries. A large number of firms have been forced to dismiss at least part of their workforce or to close down all together. Considering that young people are usually penalized more than their adult counterparts during economic crises due to the so-called “last-in-first-out” principle, it is worthwhile to evaluate if the youth will also end up paying the highest price during this pandemic-induced recession.
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  • Fertility postponement and labor market outcomes Updated

    Postponed childbearing improves women’s labor market outcomes but may reduce overall fertility

    Massimiliano Bratti, January 2023
    The rise in the average age of women bearing their first child is a well-established demographic trend in recent decades. Postponed childbearing can have important consequences for the mothers and, at a macro level, for the country in which they live. Research has primarily focused on the effect postponing fertility has on mothers’ labor market outcomes and on the total number of children a woman has in her lifetime. Most research finds that postponing the first birth raises a mother's labor force participation and wages but may have negative effects on overall fertility, especially in the absence of supportive family-friendly policies.
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  • Incentivizing sleep?

    Insufficient sleep affects employment and productivity

    Joan Costa-Font, November 2022
    Spending time sleeping not only improves individuals’ well-being, but it can influence employment outcomes and productivity. Sleep can be disrupted by company schedules and deadlines, extended working times, and several individual and household decisions. Labor market regulation and corporate strategies should factor in the immediate effect of insufficient sleep on employee fatigue and cognitive performance, and the associated effects on employment disruption and productivity loss. Sleep can be influenced by “sleep friendly” employment regulations, technology nudges, monetary incentives, and subsidies for sleeping.
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  • Gender differences in risk attitudes Updated

    Belief in the existence of gender differences in risk attitudes is stronger than the evidence supporting them

    Antonio Filippin, October 2022
    Many experimental studies and surveys have shown that women consistently display more risk-averse behavior than men when confronted with decisions involving risk. These differences in risk preferences, when combined with gender differences in other behavioral traits, such as fondness for competition, have been used to explain important phenomena in labor and financial markets. Recent evidence has challenged this consensus, however, finding gender differences in risk attitudes to be smaller than previously thought and showing greater variation of results depending on the method used to measure risk aversion.
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  • Gender differences in corporate hierarchies Updated

    How and why do the careers of men and women differ? What policies could reduce the differences?

    Antti Kauhanen, October 2022
    The gender wage gap is largely due to men and women holding different kinds of jobs. This job segregation is partly driven by gender differences in careers in corporate hierarchies. Research has shown that the careers of men and women begin to diverge immediately upon entry into the labor market and that subsequent career progress exacerbates the divergence. This divergence of career progress explains a large part of the gender wage gap. Understanding how and why the careers of men and women differ is necessary to design effective policies that can reduce the gender differences in hierarchies.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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  • 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.
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