576 research outputs found

    Replication in Economics

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    This examination of the role and potential for replication in economics points out the paucity of both pure replication -- checking on others' published papers using their data -- and scientific replication -- using data representing different populations in one's own work or in a Comment. Several controversies in empirical economics illustrate how and how not to behave when replicating others' work. The incentives for replication facing editors, authors and potential replicators are examined. Recognising these incentives, I advance proposals aimed at journal editors that will increase the supply of replication studies, and I propose a way of generating more scientific replication that will make empirical economic research more credible.

    The Interaction between Research and Public Policy: The Case of Unemployment Insurance

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    This essay examines the role of economic research in affecting the recommendations of the National Commission of Unemployment Compensation, and the likely impacts of that Commission and economists' research findings on policy. Using a questionnaire addressed to Commission members, I find that most became quite aware of the results of research on the labor- market effects of unemployment insurance, with the degree of recognition proportional to the strength of the consensus among economists on a particular result; that the members had little awareness of the identity of particular economists who had done the research; and that, though the members claimed their recommendations were influenced importantly by research, that influence is difficult to detect in the Commission's Report. Because that Report goes against the tenor of current labor- market policy, its short-run impact will likely be small; and, because the focus of interest in policy will change over time, its long-term influence may not be great. Economic research, though, is shown to have had an immediate impact in three specific cases; and its long-run effect, by conditioning the policy discussion, has been and will likely be substantial.

    Routine

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    Routine - maintaining the same schedule from day to day - saves time. It is also boring and inherently undesirable. As such, the amount of routine a person engages in is partly an economic outcome, with variations in routine generated by variations in the price of time, household income and the ability to generate variety. Using time-budget data from Australia, Germany, the Netherlands and the United States, I show that men engage in more routine behavior than women, but only because they spend more time in (routine) market work. Other things equal, more educated people engage in less routine behavior, while higher household incomes enable people to purchase more temporal variety. Spouses' temporal routines are highly complementary. The positive income effects and impacts of schooling indicate yet another avenue by which standard measures of inequality understate total economic inequality.

    Time to Eat: Household Production Under Increasing Income Inequality

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    Eating requires the food materials that make up meals and also time devoted to buying food, preparing meals and eating them, and cleaning up afterwards. Using time-diary and expenditure data for the U.S. for 1985 and 2003, I examine how income and time prices affect time and goods input into this household-produced commodity. Focusing on these two years, between which income and earnings inequality increased, allows examining how household production is affected by changing economic opportunities. The results demonstrate that both inputs into eating increase with income, and that higher time prices at a given level of income reduce time inputs. Over this period the goods intensity of producing this commodity increased, especially at the lower part of the income distribution, and the average time input dropped substantially. The results are consistent with goods-time substitution in eating being relatively difficult and with substitution becoming relatively more difficult as production expands. This is confirmed by direct estimates using matched time-use and food spending data on the same households for 2003 and 2004. The findings imply that projecting food expenditures alone overestimates the amount spent on food in a growing economy.

    Crime and the Timing of Work

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    Two striking facts describe work timing in the United States: a lower propensity to work evenings and nights in large metropolitan areas, and a secular decline in such work since 1973. One explanation is higher and possibly increasing crime in large areas. I link Current Population Survey data on work timing to FBI crime reports. Neither fact is explained by changes in nor inter-area differences in crime rates, but higher homicide rates do reduce such work. This reduction implicitly costs the economy between 4and4 and 10 billion. This negative externality illustrates a larger class of previously unmeasured costs of social pathologies.

    Data Difficulties in Labor Economics

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    This essay sets out a framework for evaluating empirical work in terms of the ability of the data to provide adequate parameter estimates and hypothesis tests about the true underlying structure. Problems of aggregation, representativeness and structural change are discussed in detail. These criteria are applied to evaluate studies of labor supply, labor demand, local labor markets and union goals. Empirical work in labor supply has made the greatest strides because of the appropriateness of the data to answer questions of interest. Studies in the other areas have not made so much progress and will not until the same resources are devoted to collecting longitudinal microeconomic data on firms as have been spent on collecting longitudinal household data.

    Changing Looks and Changing "Discrimination:" The Beauty of Economists

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    I estimate the effects of changing an ascriptive characteristic on a market outcome while keeping the average amount of information unchanged. Taking advantage of candidates' multiple appearances in elections to office in a professional association and of the presence of different photographs accompanying the ballots, I show that exogenous increases in beauty raise a candidate's chance of success. The results support the inference that differential outcomes are inherent in agents' responses to an ascriptive characteristic and do not stem from correlations with unobserved differences in productivity-enhancing characteristics.

    New Measures of Labor Cost: Implications for Demand Elasticities and Nominal Wage Growth

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    This study develops alternative quarterly measures of labor costs that refine the published data on hourly earnings and hourly compensation for the period 1953-1978. These new series account for deviations of hours paid for from hours worked, for the tax treatment of wages under the corporate income tax, and for variations in the user cost of training. They generally produce somewhat higher elasticities of labor demand, and explain variations in employment over time slightly better than do the published series. They also provide a different view of the recent path of wage inflation in the United States, suggesting that nominal wage growth has been more responsive to variations in the rate of price inflation than the published labor-cost series indicate. A data appendix lists the values of these new series; one series (that which adjusts for the hours paid/hours worked distinction) can be updated with readily avail- able data by persons interested in using these more appropriate measures of the cost of labor facing employers.
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