How do retail prices react to minimum wage increases?
AUTHORS: MacDonald, James M.; Aaronson, Daniel
Intergenerational economic mobility in the U.S., 1940 to 2000
We use two sample instrumental variables to estimate intergenerational economic mobility from 1940 to 2000. We find intergenerational mobility increased from 1940 to 1980 but declined sharply thereafter, a pattern similar to cross-sectional inequality trends. However, the returns to education account for only some of these patterns. The time- series may help to reconcile previous findings in the intergenerational mobility literature. Our estimates imply a somewhat different pattern for the intergenerational income correlation, a measure insensitive to changes in cross-sectional inequality that has implications for rank mobility. We find the post-1980 decline in intergenerational rank mobility marks a return to historical levels. Consequently, by 2000, the rate of intergenerational movement across the income distribution appears historically normal, but, as cross-sectional inequality has increased, earnings are regressing to the mean at a slower rate, causing economic differences between families to persist longer than earlier in the century.
AUTHORS: Aaronson, Daniel; Mazumder, Bhashkar
Recent evidence on the relationship between unemployment and wage growth
The current expansion has delivered the lowest unemployment rates in decades, yet nominal wage growth has remained relatively contained. This suggests to some a shift in the historical relationship between unemployment and wage growth. We look across the states for more timely evidence of a change in this relationship. We find some evidence that the elasticity of real wage growth with respect to unemployment has fallen recently, a result that is not due to a compositional shift toward college-educated workers. However, evidence of a weakened relationship is itself weak, depending on inherently arbitrary decisions about when a shift may have occurred. In addition, we find that levels of real wage growth associated with high, medium, and low unemployment have remained relatively constant.
AUTHORS: Aaronson, Daniel; Sullivan, Daniel G.
The effects of progressive taxation on labor supply when hours and wages are jointly determined
This paper extends a standard intertemporal labor supply model to account for progressive taxation as well as the joint determination of hourly wages and hours worked. We show, qualitatively and quantitatively, that these two factors have important implications for estimating the intertemporal elasticity of substitution. Furthermore, we show how to use this corrected parameter to interpret the labor supply response to a tax change. Failure to account for wage-hours ties within a progressive tax system leads to an hours response to a change in marginal tax rates that may be biased downwards by as much as 10 percent for men and 17 percent for women.
AUTHORS: Aaronson, Daniel; French, Eric
Firm Dynamics and the Minimum Wage: A Putty-Clay Approach
We document two new facts about the market-level response to minimum wage hikes: firm exit and entry both rise. These results pose a puzzle: canonical models of firm dynamics predict that exit rises but that entry falls. We develop a model of firm dynamics based on putty-clay technology and show that it is consistent with the increase in both exit and entry. The putty-clay model is also consistent with the small short-run employment effects of minimum wage hikes commonly found in empirical work. However, unlike monopsony-based explanations for small short-run employment effects, the model implies that the efficiency consequences of minimum wages are potentially large.
AUTHORS: Aaronson, Daniel; French, Eric; Sorkin, Isaac
Fertility transitions along the extensive and intensive margins
This paper examines the fertility transition through a new lens: the extensive margin. Parents with high levels of children might substitute quality for quantity as the constraints on quality relax or those on quantity tighten. However, along the extensive margin, the quantity-quality trade-off cannot operate. At low levels of fertility, we expect quality and quantity to be essential complements. We apply these insights to a large school construction program in the American South during the early 20th century, the Rosenwald Rural Schools Initiative. We find that increased schooling opportunities lead to reductions in fertility among women with high fertility levels, while at the same time inducing higher levels of fertility among women with low levels of fertility. The magnitude of the fertility changes induced in the parent generation is, however, small compared to the changes in fertility induced by the Rosenwald intervention among women that were themselves treated by the intervention. The evidence from the Rosenwald intervention therefore suggests that changes in female opportunity costs induced by increased educational attainment might be among the most important driving forces of the fertility transition.
AUTHORS: Aaronson, Daniel; Lange, Fabian; Mazumder, Bhashkar
Internal Immigrant Mobility in the Early 20th Century: Experimental Evidence from Galveston Immigrants
Between 1907 and 1914, the ?Galveston Movement,? a philanthropic effort spearheaded by Jacob Schiff, fostered the immigration of approximately 10,000 Russian Jews through the Port of Galveston, Texas. Upon arrival, households were given train tickets to pre-selected locations west of the Mississippi River where a job awaited. Despite the program?s stated purpose to locate new Russian Jewish immigrants to the Western part of the U.S., we find that almost 90 percent of the prime age male participants ultimately moved east of the Mississippi, typically to large Northeastern and Midwestern cities. We use a standard framework for modeling location decisions to show destination assignments made cities more desirable, but this effect was overwhelmed by the attraction of religious and country of origin enclaves. By contrast, there is no economically or statistically significant effect of a place having a larger base of immigrants from other areas of the world and economic conditions appear to be of secondary importance, especially for participants near the bottom of the skill distribution. Our paper also introduces two novel adjustments for matching historical data ? using an objective measure of match quality to fine tune our match scores and a deferred acceptance algorithm to avoid multiple matching.
AUTHORS: Aaronson, Daniel; Davis, Jonathan; Schulze, Karl
The minimum wage and restaurant prices
Using both store-level and aggregated price data from the food away from home component of the Consumer Price Index survey, we show that restaurant prices rise in response to an increase in the minimum wage. These results hold up when using several different sources of variation in the data. We interpret these findings within a model of employment determination. The model implies that minimum wage hikes cause employment to fall and prices to rise if labor markets are competitive but potentially cause employment to rise and prices to fall if labor markets are monopsonistic. Therefore, our empirical results appear to provide evidence against the hypothesis that monopsony power is important for understanding the small observed employment responses to minimum wage changes.
AUTHORS: French, Eric; MacDonald, James M.; Aaronson, Daniel
Product market evidence on the employment effects of the minimum wage
We calibrate a model of labor demand to infer the employment response to a change in the minimum wage in the food away from home industry. Assuming a perfectly competitive labor market, the model predicts a 2.5 to 3.5 percent fall in employment in response to a 10 percent minimum wage change. We then introduce monopsony power in local labor markets. We identify the extent of monopsony power using information on the degree to which minimum wage cost shocks are passed on to consumers in the form of higher prices. Whereas the competitive model implies that employment falls and prices rise in response to an increase in the minimum wage, the monopsony model potentially implies that employment can rise and prices fall in response to an increase in the minimum wage. Previous research shows that prices rise in response to an increase in the minimum wage. We show that this price response is consistent with the prediction of the competitive model. Calibrating the full model, we can place fairly tight bounds on the elasticity of demand for labor with the most plausible parameter values suggesting a 2 to 3 percent loss in employment in reaction to a 10 percent increase in the minimum wage.
AUTHORS: Aaronson, Daniel; French, Eric
The effect of school finance reform on population heterogeneity
This paper tests whether state school finance reform alters neighborhood income homogeneity. One implication of the Tiebout model is that within-community homogeneity declines as a result of an exogenous decrease in the ability of jurisdictions to set local tax and expenditure levels. The property tax revolt and the school finance equalization reform of the 1970s and 1980s offer a test of the role of state fiscal reform on aggregate population sorting behavior. The results show that school finance has a significant effect on school district income sorting, especially among low income communities.
AUTHORS: Aaronson, Daniel