The gap between the conditional wage distributions of incumbents and the newly hired employees: decomposition and uniform ordering
We examine the cardinal gap between wage distributions of the incumbents and newly hired workers based on entropic distances that are well-defined welfare theoretic measures. Decomposition of several effects is achieved by identifying several counterfactual distributions of different groups. These go beyond the usual Oaxaca-Blinder decompositions at the (linear) conditional means. Much like quantiles, these entropic distances are well defined inferential objects and functions whose statistical properties have recently been developed. Going beyond these strong rankings and distances, we ...
A New Look at Racial Disparities Using a More Comprehensive Wealth Measure
Most research measuring disparities in wealth by race relies on data that exclude resources that are disproportionately important to low-wealth and non-white families, namely defined benefit (DB) pensions and Social Security. This paper finds that once these resources are included, disparities in wealth between white families and Black and Hispanic families are substantially smaller and that they are not rising over time. The powerful equalizing roles of DB pensions and Social Security highlighted here are further motivation for maintaining their fiscal health. This paper also presents ...
A Comparison of Living Standards Across the States of America
We use an expected utility framework to examine how living standards vary across the United States and how each state's living standards have evolved over time. Our welfare measure accounts for cross-state variations in mortality, consumption, education, inequality, and cost of living. We find that per capita income is a good indicator of living standards, with a correlation of 0.80 across states. Living standards in most states, however, appear closer to those in the richest states than their difference in per capita income would suggest. Whereas high-income states benefit from higher life ...
The Downward Spiral
To analyze the opioid epidemic, we construct a model where individuals, with and without pain, choose whether to misuse opioids knowing the probabilities of addiction and dying. These odds are functions of opioid use. Markov chains are estimated from the US data for the college and non–college educated that summarize the transitions into and out of opioid addiction as well as to a deadly overdose. We construct a structural model that matches the estimated Markov chains. We also examine the epidemic’s drivers and the impact of medical interventions.
Toward a Framework for Time Use, Welfare, and Household Centric Economic Measurement
What is meant by economic progress, and how should it be measured? The conventional answer is growth in real GDP over time or compared across countries, a monetary measure adjusted for the general rate of increase in prices. However, there is increasing interest in developing an alternative understanding of economic progress, particularly in the context of digitalization of the economy and the consequent significant changes Internet use is bringing about in production and household activity. This paper discusses one alternative approach, combining an extended utility framework considering ...
Mitigating Benefits Cliffs for Low-Income Families: District of Columbia Career Mobility Action Plan as a Case Study
The structure of the United States social safety net features the phaseout of public assistance as household income increases, which functions as an effective marginal tax on wage gains and is commonly referred to as a "benefits cliff." This presents a disincentive for some low-income workers, especially those with children, to accept higher-paying jobs or promotions. Workforce development programs focused on helping low-income workers must contend with the challenges that benefits cliffs present to the career advancement of their clients. In this paper, we describe the overall structure of ...
Decomposing Lifetime-Earnings Differences between White, Black, and Hispanic Families
This paper explores disparities between White, Black, and Hispanic families using a measure of lifetime earnings developed by Jacobs et al. (2022) for the Survey of Consumer Finances (SCF). Lifetime earnings are a particularly important measure of well-being, with relevance for wealth accumulation among other economic and social outcomes, but they are under-studied in the context of racial disparities. We describe how the different components of lifetime earnings— including annual earnings of workers, number of working household members, and number of years of employment during the working ...
The Expansion of Varieties in the New Age of Advertising
The last decades have seen large improvements in digital advertising technology that allowed firms to better target specific consumer tastes. This research studies the relationship among digital advertising, the rise of varieties, and economic welfare. We develop a model of advertising and varieties where firms choose the intensity of digital ads directed at specific consumers as well as traditional ads that are undirected. The calibrated model shows that improvements in digital advertising have driven the rise in varieties over time. Empirical evidence is presented using detailed micro data ...
World welfare is rising: estimation using nonparametric bounds on welfare measures
I take a new approach to measuring world inequality and welfare over time by constructing robust bounds for these series instead of imposing parametric assumptions to compute point estimates. I derive sharp bounds on the Atkinson inequality index that are valid for any underlying distribution of income conditional on given fractile shares and the Gini coefficient. While the bounds are too wide to reject the hypothesis that world inequality may have risen, I show that world welfare rose unambiguously between 1970 and 2006. This conclusion is valid for alternative methods of dealing with ...
Risk Aversion at the Country Level
In this paper we provide estimates of the coefficient of relative risk aversion for 80 countries using data on self-reports of personal well-being from the Gallup World Poll. For most countries we cannot reject the null hypothesis that the coefficient of relative risk aversion equals 1. We conclude that our result supports the use of the log utility function in numerical simulations.