Local price variation and labor supply behavior
In standard economic theory, labor supply decisions depend on the complete set of prices: the wage and the prices of relevant consumption goods. Nonetheless, most of theoretical and empirical work ignores prices other than wages when studying labor supply. The question we address in this paper is whether the common practice of ignoring local price variation in labor supply studies is as innocuous as has generally been assumed. We describe a simple model to demonstrate that the effects of wage and non-labor income on labor supply will typically differ by location. We show, in particular, the ...
The role of location in evaluating racial wage disparity
A standard object of empirical analysis in labor economics is a modified Mincer wage function in which an individual's log wage is specified to be a function of education, experience, and an indicator variable identifying race. Researchers hope that estimates from this exercise can be informative about the impact of minority status on labor market success. Here we set out a theoretical justification for this regression in a context in which individuals live and work in different locations. Our model leads to the traditional approach, but with the important caveat that the regression should ...
Local price variation and labor supply behavior
In standard economic theory, labor supply decisions depend on the complete set of prices: wages and the prices of relevant consumption goods. Nonetheless, most theoretical and empirical work in labor supply studies ignore prices other than wages. We address the question of whether the common practice of ignoring local price variation in labor supply studies is as innocuous as generally assumed. We describe a simple model to demonstrate that the effects of wage and nonlabor income on labor supply typically differ by location. In particular, we show that the derivative of the labor supply with ...
African-American economic progress in urban areas: a tale of 14 American cities
How significant was the economic progress of African-Americans in the U.S. between 1970 and 2000? In this paper we examine this issue for black men 25-55 years old who live in 14 large U.S. metropolitan areas. We present the evidence that significant racial disparities remain in education and labor market outcomes of black and white men. We discuss changes in industrial composition, migration, and demographic changes that might have contributed to the stagnation of economic progress of black men between 1970 and 2000. In addition, we show that there was no progress in a financial well-being ...
Local price variation and the tax incidence of state lotteries
This paper explores the seemingly innocuous practice of ignoring the local price vector in empirical models of lottery demand. We argue using consumer theory that local consumption prices should be included and that the failure to consider local prices results in income elasticity of lottery demand estimates that are biased downward. Using a sample of MSAs, we find that, in accordance with our theory, local prices are a significant determinant of lottery sales and the income elasticity of demand for lotteries is greater in magnitude when the local price vector is considered. The degree of ...
Are children 'normal'?
In his classic work on the economics of fertility, Becker (1960) suggests that children are likely ?normal.? We examine this contention. Our first step is documenting an empirical regularity about the cross section of white married couples in the U.S.: when we restrict comparisons to households living in broadly similar locations (e.g., in expensive urban areas, or in rural areas), completed fertility is positively correlated with the husband?s income. Two alternative models rationalize the data?one in which children are ?normal? and a second in which the observed pattern emerges solely as a ...
Earnings functions when wages and prices vary by location
In this paper we study whether location-specific price variation likely affects statistical inference and theoretical interpretation in the empirical implementation of human capital earnings functions. We demonstrate, in a model of local labor markets, that the ?return to schooling" is a constant across locations if and only if preferences are homothetic ? a special case that seems unlikely to generally pertain. Examination of U.S. Census data (for 1980, 1990, and 2000) provides persuasive evidence that the return to a college education, relative to a high school education, does indeed vary ...
The return to education isn't calculated easily
Most studies estimate that the return to each year of education is about 10 percent. But calculating the financial gain is not a cut-and-dried process. Even more difficult is calculating the nonmonetary return.
Understanding poverty measures and the call to update them
Official poverty rates are on the rise in the United States. But does this necessarily mean that more people can?t meet their basic needs? This article examines how poverty is calculated and looks at the criticisms of these measures.
Gender wage gap may be much smaller than most think