Consumption

  • Luigi Pistaferri

Leader: Luigi Pistaferri

The study of poverty and inequality has long privileged measures of income over those of consumption. Does this lead us awry? The purpose of the Consumption RG, which the CPI has founded only recently, is to monitor trends in consumption-based poverty and inequality and to understand the sources of those trends. The analyses within this RG will focus on the individual components of consumption because they are not always moving in lockstep. For example, inequality in the ownership of major durables has been declining, whereas inequality in nondurables, services, and food consumption has been increasing. The trends in food consumption are further complicated, however, because coloric intake is not growing more unequal, partly as a result of assistance provided by SNAP. The main rationale for setting up this RG is that patterns of consumption, especially among the poor, appear to be changing in complicated ways that require careful study and documenting. Although in principle the well-being of households may be better assessed with consumption than income, a consumption-based approach is thus complicated by the very different trends across the components of consumption and by difficulties in knowing the value assigned to the quality of goods that are consumed.

  • Elizabeth Peters
  • Sara McLanahan

Leaders: Elizabeth Peters, Sara McLanahan

The continuing decline in prime-age employment interacts with ongoing changes in the structure and composition of low-income families. The relevant trends here include (a) declining marriage rates and increasing cohabitation, (b) increases in nonmarital births and multi-partner fertility, and (c) rising noncustodial parenthood (especially for fathers). These developments all work to weaken the “family safety net” for poor children. In a precarious labor market, a second parent provides backup in difficult times (e.g., extra income, childcare), thus reducing the risks of poverty. The family safety net is in this sense weakening just as the labor market is becoming more precarious. Moreover, because some programs (e.g., EITC) provide higher benefits for custodial parents, the rise of noncustodial parenting undermines the capacity of the formal safety net to step in as the family safety net weakens. These and related changes in family structure have prompted a spate of policy proposals, some involving safety net reforms that accommodate the new family forms (e.g., incentivizing noncustodial parents to comply with child-support orders), and others addressing the underlying institutional changes themselves (e.g., increasing the availability of long-acting reversible contraceptives). The charge of the Family RG is to evaluate these proposals and to better understand how the safety net is adapting to changes in family structure. The following projects are a sampling of the research underway within this RG.

A new round of Fragile Families data collection: Under the leadership of Sara McLanahan, a new initiative to update the Fragile Families Study is underway, with a focus on adding administrative records, metabolic and immune markers, and measures of methylation.

Income and the developing brain: Does income support for families affect the brain function and development of infants? A new experiment will reveal all.

Measuring family complexity in the AOS: Will the American Opportunity Study (AOS) capture the rise of ever more complicated family forms? By linking tax, census, and birth records, the AOS should be up to the task.

  • Sanjay Basu
  • Mark Cullen
  • Jeremy Freese
  • David Rehkopf

Leaders: Sanjay Basu, Mark Cullen, Jeremy Freese, David Rehkopf 

The affiliates within the Health Disparities RG are using new computer modeling and statistical techniques to examine how poverty affects the health of children and adults and how some anti-poverty programs are reducing those effects. Here’s a sampling of our projects. 

Income, geography, and life expectancy: Using deidentified tax data and Social Security Administration death records, Raj Chetty and his coauthors have shown that the richest 1 percent live 14.6 years longer, on average, than the poorest 1 percent. Although poor people typically have much shorter lives, Chetty also shows that the extent of this disadvantage depends on the place of residence, thus suggesting that there may be opportunities for policy to reduce the gap in life expectancy.

Infant health and poverty: Which poor neighborhoods are associated with very low birth weights? By identifying neighborhoods that are yielding very low birth weights, we can start to target home visiting and related programs.

Biological mechanisms of disadvantage: We all know that poverty “gets under the skin” and creates lasting disadvantage. Is this because children exposed to poverty-induced stress experience epigenetic changes? We’re going to know very soon.

Income and the developing brain: The prevailing view is that poverty is especially likely to shape children’s early development because of the high plasticity and rapid growth of the brain during the first three years of life. It’s high time for a rigorous study of how income affects the brain function and development of infants and toddlers. 

  • Matthew Desmond
  • Rebecca Diamond

Leaders: Matthew Desmond, Rebecca Diamond

The Housing RG is tasked with exploring the the inner workings of disadvantaged neighborhoods and the low-cost housing market, with a focus on (a) the relationship between housing, employment, and poverty, (b) the causes, dynamics, and consequences of eviction, and (c) the effectiveness of housing vouchers and other housing programs. A sampling of our ongoing projects follows.

Evictions and poverty: Are evictions an important cause of deep and extreme poverty? In collaboration with Raj Chetty, Matt Desmond is starting a project on the long-term consequences of eviction that will reveal the extent to which deep and extreme poverty can be reduced with a “housing first” policy that ramps up federal housing programs.

Housing voucher policy: The U.S. currently spends approximately $20 billion per year on subsidized housing vouchers, but 80 percent of these vouchers are used in moderate- or high-poverty neighborhoods, where opportunities for upward mobility are typically limited. Can voucher policies be recast to increase the number of families moving to “high opportunity” neighborhoods?

  • David Harding
  • Stephen Raphael
  • Joan Petersilia

Leaders: David Harding, Stephen Raphael, Joan Petersilia

Since the mid-1970s, the United States has experienced a precipitous rise in incarceration, with about 2.3 million U.S. adults now incarcerated in state and federal prisons. In recent years, there has been increasing pressure to wind down this commitment to mass imprisonment, and it’s accordingly important to study ways to reintegrate successfully. The Incarceration RG is tasked with monitoring and evaluating the relationship between poverty and sentencing, parole reform, probation, reintegration, and recidivism.

Poverty and the decline in prison population: Will the ongoing decline in California’s prison population bring about an increase in homelessness, mental health service use, and other poverty-relevant outcomes? This line of research will reveal whether ongoing declines in incarceration should be coordinated with increased funding for programs that may substitute for incarceration.

Arrests, race, and poverty: Is reducing arrests the only way to reduce criminal bookings (and the employment-reducing effects of such bookings)? There may be another way.

  • Greg Duncan
  • Arnold Milstein
  • Sean Reardon
  • Gregory Walton

Leaders: Greg Duncan, Arnold Milstein, Sean Reardon, Gregory Walton

The Life Course RG is dedicated to advancing research on life course theory and assessing how it can contribute to reducing poverty. The research within this RG focuses on issues of toxic stress, neurodevelopment, and epigenetics. The following are a few relevant projects within this RG.

Optimal timing of interventions: It has long been argued that interventions in the earliest years of childhood have larger long-term returns that interventions in later years. Is a comprehensive test of this hypothesis now possible?

Biological mechanisms of disadvantage: We’ve all heard that poverty “gets under the skin.” There is growing debate, however, on whether this biologic embedding of poverty takes an epigenetic form. A study underway at the CPI will be an especially important entry into this debate. 

Infant health and poverty: It is well known that early disadvantages at the “starting gate” parlay into later developmental disadvantages and increased risks of poverty. Are these starting-gate disparities growing larger? Using the census of U.S. birth records between 1970 and 2014, we will soon know whether they are.

Differential EITC effects: Is there a critical moment in the child’s cognitive development in which an EITC supplement is especially consequential? This question, which has long been difficult to answer, can now be taken on by linking vital statistics to administrative data for school children.

  • Kathryn Edin
  • Linda Burton
  • David Grusky

Leaders: Linda Burton, Kathryn Edin, David Grusky

The Supplemental Poverty Measure (SPM) reveals substantial post-1970 reductions in poverty under a constant (i.e., “anchored”) threshold, but this trend masks worrisome developments at the very bottom of the distribution. Although the overall SPM has trended downward since 1970, the SPM for households with less than half of the anchored threshold level (i.e., “deep poverty”) has remained stable since 1968. Even more worrying, the most extreme forms of poverty, such as living on less than $2 per day (per person), have in fact increased over the last two decades. The main tasks of our Poverty and Deep Poverty RG are to describe trends in poverty and deep poverty, to assess the effectiveness of current anti-poverty programs, and to examine the likely payoff to introducing new anti-poverty programs. We present a sampling of relevant projects below.

Frequent Reporting Project: Why are unemployment statistics reported monthly whereas poverty statistics are reported only once a year (and with such a long lag)? The CPI is hard at work solving this problem.

California Poverty Project: The CPI, in collaboration with the Public Policy Institute of California, issues the California Poverty Measure (CPM) annually. There are plans afoot to make it an even more powerful policy instrument. 

Ending Poverty in California: Is it possible to substantially reduce poverty in California by relying entirely on evidence-based programs? It indeed is.

The National Poverty StudyThe country’s one-size-fits-all poverty policy ignores the seemingly profound differences between suburban poverty, immigrant poverty, reservation poverty, rural white poverty, deindustrializing poverty, and the many other ways in which massive deprivation plays out in the U.S. The National Poverty Study, which will be the country’s first qualitative census of poverty, takes on the problem.

Income supports and deep poverty: The U.S. does not rely heavily on unconditional cash transfers in its poverty programming. Is this a mistake? The CPI is assisting Y Combinator in providing the first U.S. evidence on unconditional income support since the negative income tax experiments of the 1970s.

Disability and deep poverty: The country’s disability programs are an important anti-poverty weapon. In evaluating their effectiveness, it is important to determine whether the low employment rates among program recipients reflects an underlying (low) capacity for employment, as opposed to the labor-supply effects of the programs themselves. Although it’s long been difficult to assess such labor-supply effects, now there’s a way forward.

Evictions and deep and extreme poverty: Are evictions an important cause of deep and extreme poverty? This line of research examines the extent to which deep and extreme poverty can be reduced with a “housing first” policy that ramps up federal housing programs.

Deep poverty and TANF add-ons: The country is implicitly running hundreds of experiments on how best to structure TANF programs, but it hasn’t had the capacity to evaluate them. Are administrative data the answer?

  • Gary Solon
  • Raj Chetty
  • Florencia Torche

Leaders: Raj Chetty, Gary Solon, Florencia Torche

The purpose of the Social Mobility RG is to develop and exploit new administrative sources for measuring mobility and the effects of policy on mobility out of poverty. This research group is doing so by (a) providing comprehensive analyses of intergenerational mobility based on linked administrative data from U.S. tax returns, W-2s, and other sources, and (b) developing a new infrastructure for monitoring social mobility, dubbed the American Opportunity Study, that is based on linking census and other administrative data. Here’s a sampling of projects:

Small place estimates: The Equal Opportunity Project, led by Raj Chetty, uses tax return data to monitor opportunities for mobility out of poverty. In one of the new lines of analysis coming out of this project, the first round of results at the level of “commuting zones” are being redone at a more detailed level (e.g., census block level), thus allowing for even better inferences about the effects of place.

The American Opportunity Study: This research group is also collaborating with the Census Bureau to develop a new infrastructure for monitoring mobility that treats linked decennial census data as the spine on which other administrative data are hung.

Colleges and rising income inequality: Where do poor children go to attend college? The “Mobility Report Card” will convey the joint distribution of parent and student incomes for every Title IV institution in the United States.

The “absolute mobility” of the poor: What fraction of poor children grow up to earn more than their parents? Have rates of absolute upward mobility changed over time? This project develops a new method of estimating rates of absolute mobility for the 1940-1984 birth cohorts.

Intergenerational elasticities in the U.S.: There remains some debate about the size of intergenerational elasticities in the U.S. A rarely-used sample of 1987 tax data provides new evidence on U.S. elasticities.

  • Nicholas Bloom
  • Raj Chetty
  • Emmanuel Saez

Leaders: Nicholas Bloom, Raj Chetty, Emmanuel Saez

The CPI is home to some of the country’s most influential analyses of the income and wealth distribution. The purpose of the Income and Wealth RG is to monitor the ongoing takeoff in income inequality, to better understand its sources, and to analyze its implications for labor market performance, educational attainment, mobility, and more. The following is a sampling of the CPI’s research projects within this area.

Trends in income and wealth inequality: What are the key trends in U.S. income and wealth inequality? The U.S. increasingly looks to Emmanuel Saez and his research team for the latest data on U.S. economic inequality.

Distributional National Accounts: In an ambitious infrastructural project, Emmanuel Saez and his team are building a “Distributional National Accounts” based on tax returns, a data set that will eliminate the current gap between (a) national accounts data based on economic aggregates and (b) inequality analysis that uses micro-level tax data to examine the distribution of income but is not consistent with national aggregates. This new data set will in turn make it possible to evaluate the extent to which economic growth, which has long been represented as a preferred poverty-reduction approach, is indeed delivering on that objective.

The rise of between-firm inequality: How much of the rise in earnings inequality can be attributed to increasing between-firm dispersion in the average wages they pay? This question can be addressed by constructing a matched employer-employee data set for the United States using administrative records.

Rent and inequality: It is increasingly fashionable to argue that “rent” accounts for much of the takeoff in income inequality. The Current Population Survey can be used to assess whether this claim is on the mark. 

  • Robert Mare
  • Daniel Lichter

Leader: Daniel Lichter, Robert Mare

The Residential Segregation RG is dedicated to updating the country’s system for measuring residential segregation. This research group has three main research commitments: (a) monitoring segregation at the extremes; (b) charting the spatial distribution of the elderly poor; and (c) developing a new GPS-based infrastructure for measuring segregation. 

Segregation at the extremes: The first line of research addresses the need to better monitor segregation at the extremes, including (a) the possible rise of enclave-style segregation at the very top (the “one percent”) and (b) the yet more troubling possibility of a resurgence of extreme segregation among the very poor. In a related recession brief, Robert Sampson has shown that poor neighborhoods have become yet poorer in the downturn, raising the possibility that hyper-segregation is indeed emerging. 

Segregation of the elderly poor: In the second line of research, research group members are charting the spatial distribution of the elderly poor, given emerging concerns about their ghettoization. This line of research, which is being carried out in collaboration with the Stanford Center on Longevity, begins with a simple descriptive mapping of elderly poor that reveals the extent to which they are indeed isolated and segregated. 

Real-time measures of segregation: The third main initiative is to develop a new infrastructure for monitoring segregation. The conventional approach of carrying out separate and static measurements of residential, school, work, friendship, and marriage segregation can be replaced with a direct behavioral framework that tracks the continuous-time patterning of inter-person contact. By exploiting GPS measurements (increasingly available, even for the poor, via mobile phones), it becomes possible to track poor, middle-class, and rich people as they move through their day and attend school, go to work, carry out their shopping, and visit friends and family. This methodology will produce a real-time measure of how much segregation there is and, in particular, the extent to which the poor are growing increasingly isolated in school, home, work, and leisure. 

  • Michael Hout
  • Gregory Acs
  • David Card
  • Jesse Rothstein

Leaders: Gregory Acs, David Card, Michael Hout, Jesse Rothstein

The labor market was of course hit very heavily by the Great Recession, as evidenced by (a) the slow recovery of the unemployment rate, (b) and the even slower recovery of the long-term unemployment rate and the prime-age employment ratio (defined as the ratio of employed 25-54 year-olds to the population of that same age). This “jobs problem,” which is especially prominent among low-skill workers, has led to a sharp rise in the number of poor households without any working adults. It also underlies, in part, the sharp increase in the number of disability insurance claims and awards, which in turn has further reduced the supply of labor among low-skilled individuals.

If the first type of “jobs problem” is that there still are not enough of them, the second is that the jobs that are available do not always provide the requisite hours, wages, or security that are needed for a sure pathway out of poverty. As a result, low-skill individuals are not just working less but, even when they are working, there is no guarantee that their jobs will lift them and their families out of poverty. The Labor Markets RG is tasked with conducting research on these and related problems and exploiting administrative and other data to assess possible policy responses to them. We list below a few examples of the work being carried out in this group.

Long-run effects of work incentives: As nonworking poverty increases, the U.S. might well want to turn to new types of work incentive programs. Have these programs worked elsewhere?

Minimum wages and poverty: Throughout the west coast, there are a host of minimum wage “experiments” underway, experiments that have the potential to reset the low-wage labor market in quite fundamental ways. How are these experiments playing out?

  • Karen Jusko
  • Mark Duggan
  • Hilary Hoynes

Leaders: Mark Duggan, Hilary Hoynes, Karen Jusko

The Safety Net RG is devoted to monitoring changes in government transfers and anti-poverty programs and assessing whether they are meeting the needs of the poor. The U.S. safety net is undergoing such changes as (a) an ongoing decline in TANF cash benefits, (b) rapid increases in spending on EITC, Medicaid, Disability Insurance, Unemployment Insurance, and SNAP, and (c) a dramatic shift toward spending that favors the “working poor” over the more destitute. The CPI affiliates working within this research group are monitoring these changes, examining their implications for poverty, assessing the effectiveness of key government and nongovernment programs in reducing poverty, and modeling the costs and benefits of possible changes in policy and programs. We’ve provided a sampling here of some of this ongoing research.

Poverty Relief Project: With Kate Weisshaar, Karen Jusko uses the poverty relief ratio to evaluate the effectiveness of anti-poverty programs over time, across states, and across countries. Which state is the least effective in fighting poverty? Has the U.S. become more or less effective over time? These and other questions are answered in our latest State of the Union reports.

Long-run effects of SNAP: Have we underestimated the returns to SNAP by ignoring the long-run effects on children exposed to it in their early childhood? It’s now possible to find out.

California Welfare LaboratoryThe poverty rate in California, when measured with the Supplemental Poverty Measure, is the highest in the country. What can be done to bring that rate down? The mission of the California Welfare Laboratory is to make research on California’s welfare programs accessible to all and thus facilitate an informed discussion of what is working and what needs to be improved.

Differential EITC effects: It is often argued that early interventions have especially high payoffs.  Are the returns to the EITC indeed larger when it goes to parents with young children?

Disability and poverty: Does the federal government’s disability program reduce labor supply? Although it’s long been difficult to identify a causal effect, Mark Duggan has now found a way.

The effects of TANF: The TANF program is very decentralized and thus takes on dramatically different forms. How can we exploit that variability to find out what’s working?

  • Doug Massey
  • David Grusky
  • Tomás Jiménez
  • Beth Mattingly

Leaders: David Grusky, Tomás Jiménez, Doug Massey, Beth Mattingly

This RG was created after the CPI received a sub-award to study Hispanic poverty, inequality, and mobility. The objective is to document key poverty and inequality trends, to begin the task of explaining what underlies them, and to then populate a new website, with the results coming out of this research.

We are taking on five lines of research under the leadership of both young and more distinguished scholars. The “basic trends” group is documenting key developments in Hispanic population distribution, income, education, poverty, employment, and “safety net” use; the “new generations” group is examining whether second and third generation immigrants are successfully incorporating into the labor market; the “social mobility” group is assessing whether Hispanics continue to have ample opportunities to improve their economic situation during their lifetime; the “social policy” group is examining how recent legal and policy changes have affected Hispanic natives and immigrants; and the “health” group is exploring the sources of deteriorating health among Hispanic immigrants and natives. The work of this RG was featured in a Pathways Magazine special report on poverty, inequality, and mobility among Hispanics.

 

  • Sean Reardon

Leader: Sean Reardon

The purpose of the Education RG is to examine trends in the extent to which educational access and achievement are related to poverty and family background. The scholars working within this RG are examining state-level differences in the effects of social origins, uncovering the causes of the recent rise in the socioeconomic achievement gap, uncovering the causes of the yet more recent turnaround in this rise (among kindergarten children), and examining the ways in which high-achieving children from poor backgrounds can be induced to go to college. The following is a sampling of relevant CPI projects.

Reducing the race gap in test scores: How can the black-white gap in achievement test scores be eliminated? The new Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) will provide the most systematic evidence to date on the capacity of school-district policies to reduce the gap.

Colleges and rising income inequality: Are colleges delivering upward mobility for those raised in poverty? The new “Mobility Report Card” will provide unusually detailed data on this fundamental question.

Poverty and schooling on reservations: The noted ethnographer Martin Sánchez-Jankowski is examining how education on reservations can be reformed to reduce dropout, poverty, and suicide. 

  • C. Matthew Snipp
  • Tomas Jimenez
  • Linda Burton
  • Hazel Markus
  • Douglas Massey

Leaders: Linda Burton, Tomás Jiménez, Hazel Markus, Douglas Massey, C. Matthew Snipp

The CPI has an extensive research program on race, ethnicity, immigration, and poverty. The National Poverty Study, for example, is designed to rigorously compare differences across rural black, deindustrialized, reservation, and other “racialized” poverty forms. The CPI also runs a comprehensive program on Hispanic poverty that explores such topics as the “chilling effect” of anti-immigrant laws on program use, the reasons why, contrary to much speculation, the Hispanic poverty rate has not taken off, and the causes of the so-called Hispanic Health Paradox (see, for example, our Pathways Magazine special report on poverty, inequality, and mobility among Hispanics). And one of the CPI’s most distinguished affiliates, Jennifer Eberhardt (who is on the CPI directorate), is carrying out a groundbreaking big-data analysis of policing and race. We list below a sampling of other CPI projects on race, ethnicity, immigration, and poverty.

Poverty among refugees: The U.S. refugee population faces very high rates of poverty, yet we know very little about the effects of different resettlement programs and approaches. There are efforts afoot to exploit available administrative data and begin to find out what works and what doesn’t.

Arrests, race, and poverty: Why are some arrests resolved informally while others are converted into a criminal record that then has a life-long scarring effect? The process of converting an arrest into a criminal booking may play an important role in generating downstream racial disparities.

Reducing the race gap in test scores: The new Stanford Education Data Archive (SEDA) is a rich resource that is providing the most systematic evidence to date on the capacity of school-district policies to reduce the racial gap in test scores.

Poverty and schooling on reservations: Why are test scores and educational outcomes on Native reservations so low (relative to the national average)? In a new project by the noted ethnographer Martin Sánchez-Jankowski, we’ll be learning more about how traditional and formal education are viewed and the ways in which they might be better integrated. 

  • Shelley Correll
  • Cecilia Ridgeway
  • David Pedulla

Leaders: Shelley Correll, David Pedulla, Cecilia Ridgeway 

The Poverty and Discrimination RG is charged with developing a regularized protocol for measuring the amount and extent of discrimination in labor and housing markets. It is increasingly clear that labor market discrimination, far from withering away, remains very prominent for many statuses and in many types of markets. However, because this research tradition is based on “one-off” audit studies and laboratory experiments, it is not possible to compare across studies and assess which types of discrimination are the most important or the most resistant to change. There is accordingly a need to build a standardized protocol for monitoring trends in discrimination across the various types of discrimination in play (e.g., poverty status, employment status, homelessness, economic background, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, incarceration status, citizenship, religion, disability). The twofold objective of this protocol is to make it possible to assess which types of discrimination are especially prominent and which types are growing weaker or stronger over time.

 

All - CPI Research

Title Author Media
Gender Attitudes in Africa: Liberal Egalitarianism Across 34 Countries Maria Charles

Gender Attitudes in Africa: Liberal Egalitarianism Across 34 Countries

Author: Maria Charles
Publisher: Social Forces
Date: 10/2019

This study provides a first descriptive mapping of support for women’s equal rights in 34 African countries and assesses diverse theoretical explanations for variability in this support. Contrary to stereotypes of a homogeneously tradition-bound continent, African citizens report high levels of agreement with gender equality that are more easily understood with reference to global processes of ideational diffusion than to country-level differences in economic modernization or women’s public-sphere roles. Multivariate analyses suggest, however, that gender liberalism in Africa may be spreading through mechanisms not typically considered by world-society scholars: Support for equal rights is largely unrelated to countries’ formal ties to the world system, but it is stronger among persons who are more exposed to extra-local culture, including through internet and mobile phone usage, news access, and urban residency. Forces for gender liberalism are conditioned, moreover, by local religious cultures and gender structures.

Raising the Stakes: Inequality and Testing in the Russian Education System Michelle Jackson, Tatiana Khavenson, Tatiana Chirkina

Raising the Stakes: Inequality and Testing in the Russian Education System

Author: Michelle Jackson, Tatiana Khavenson, Tatiana Chirkina
Publisher: Social Forces
Date: 10/2019

Sociologists have argued that high-stakes tests open the door to high levels of educational inequality at transition points: in a high-stakes testing regime, parents and students are able to focus all energy and resources on test preparation, thus enhancing pre-existing inequalities in academic performance. But arguments about a special role for high-stakes tests are often prosecuted without explicit comparisons to other types of tests and assessments, usually because information on other tests is not available. In this article, we analyze a unique dataset on a contemporary cohort of Russian students, for whom we have PISA and TIMSS scores, low-stakes test scores, and high-stakes test scores. We compare the role each test plays in mediating socioeconomic background inequalities at the important transitions in the Russian educational system: the transition to upper secondary education and the transition to university. We find evidence in favor of a special role for the high-stakes test at the transition to university, but we also find evidence that gives cause to question the standard assumption that high-stakes tests should be a primary focus for those concerned about inequality of educational opportunity.

The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco Rebecca Diamond, Tim McQuade, Franklin Qian

The Effects of Rent Control Expansion on Tenants, Landlords, and Inequality: Evidence from San Francisco

Author: Rebecca Diamond, Tim McQuade, Franklin Qian
Publisher: American Economic Review
Date: 09/2019

Using a 1994 law change, we exploit quasi-experimental variation in the assignment of rent control in San Francisco to study its impacts on tenants and landlords. Leveraging new data tracking individuals' migration, we find rent control limits renters' mobility by 20 percent and lowers displacement from San Francisco. Landlords treated by rent control reduce rental housing supplies by 15 percent by selling to owner-occupants and redeveloping buildings. Thus, while rent control prevents displacement of incumbent renters in the short run, the lost rental housing supply likely drove up market rents in the long run, ultimately undermining the goals of the law.

The Impact of Brexit on UK Firms Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, Pawel Smietanka, Gregory Thwaites

The Impact of Brexit on UK Firms

Author: Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, Pawel Smietanka, Gregory Thwaites
Publisher: National Bureau of Economic Research
Date: 09/2019

We use a major new survey of UK firms, the Decision Maker Panel, to assess the impact of the June 2016 Brexit referendum. We identify three key results. First, the UK’s decision to leave the EU has generated a large, broad and long-lasting increase in uncertainty. Second, anticipation of Brexit is estimated to have gradually reduced investment by about 11% over the three years following the June 2016 vote. This fall in investment took longer to occur than predicted at the time of the referendum, suggesting that the size and persistence of this uncertainty may have delayed firms’ response to the Brexit vote. Finally, the Brexit process is estimated to have reduced UK productivity by between 2% and 5% over the three years after the referendum. Much of this drop is from negative within-firm effects, in part because firms are committing several hours per week of top-management time to Brexit planning. We also find evidence for smaller negative between-firm effects as more productive, internationally exposed, firms have been more negatively impacted than less productive domestic firms.

Forever Homes and Temporary Stops: Housing Search Logics and Residential Selection Hope Harvey, Kelley Fong, Kathryn Edin, Stefanie DeLuca

Forever Homes and Temporary Stops: Housing Search Logics and Residential Selection

Author: Hope Harvey, Kelley Fong, Kathryn Edin, Stefanie DeLuca
Publisher: Social Forces
Date: 08/2019

Residential selection is central in determining children’s housing, neighborhood, and school contexts, and an extensive literature considers the social processes that shape residential searches and attainment. While this literature typically frames the residential search as a uniform process oriented around finding residential options with desired characteristics, we examine whether individuals may differentially conceive of these searches in ways that sustain inequality in residential attainment. Drawing on repeated, in-depth interviews with a stratified random sample of 156 households with young children in two metropolitan counties, we find that parents exhibit distinct residential search logics, informed by the constraints they face. Higher-income families usually engage in purposive searches oriented around their residential preferences. They search for “forever homes” that will meet their families’ needs for years to come. In contrast, low-income parents typically draw on a logic of deferral. While they hope to eventually search for a home with the unit, neighborhood, and school characteristics they desire, aspirations for homeownership lead them to conceive of their moves (which are often between rental units) as “temporary stops,” which justifies accepting homes that are inconsistent with their long-term preferences. In addition, because they are often “pushed” to move by negative circumstances, they focus on their immediate housing needs and, in the most extreme cases, adopt an “anywhere but here” approach. These logics constitute an unexamined mechanism through which economic resources shape residential searches and ultimate attainment.

all - CPI Affiliates

Douglas S. Massey's picture Douglas S. Massey Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration Research Group Leader; Henry G. Bryant Professor of Sociology and Public Affairs
Princeton University
Elizabeth Peters's picture Elizabeth Peters Family Research Group Leader; Director of Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population
The Urban Institute
Raj Chetty's picture Raj Chetty Mobility Research Group Leader, Income and Wealth Research Group Leader, Director of Opportunity Lab
Harvard University
Mark Cullen's picture Mark Cullen Senior Associate Dean for Research, Stanford University School of Medicine; Health Disparities Research Group Leader, Director of Stanford Center for Population Health Sciences
Stanford University
Emmanuel Saez's picture Emmanuel Saez Income and Wealth Research Group Leader; Professor of Economics; Director, Center for Equitable Growth
University of California, Berkeley

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All - Other Research

Title Author Media
Culture and Gender Allocation of Tasks: Source Country Characteristics and the Division of Non-market Work among US Immigrants Francine D. Blau, Lawrence Kahn, Matthew L. Comey, Amanda R. Eng, Pamela A. Meyerhofer, Alexander Willén

Culture and Gender Allocation of Tasks: Source Country Characteristics and the Division of Non-market Work among US Immigrants

Author: Francine D. Blau, Lawrence Kahn, Matthew L. Comey, Amanda R. Eng, Pamela A. Meyerhofer, Alexander Willén
Publisher: National Bureau of Economic Research
Date: 04/2020

There is a well-known gender difference in time allocation within the household, which has important implications for gender differences in labor market outcomes. We ask how malleable this gender difference in time allocation is to culture. In particular, we ask if US immigrants allocate tasks differently depending upon the characteristics of the source countries from which they emigrated. Using data from the 2003-2017 waves of the American Time Use Survey (ATUS), we find that first-generation immigrants, both women and men, from source countries with more gender equality (as measured by the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index) allocate tasks more equally, while those from less gender equal source countries allocate tasks more traditionally. These results are robust to controls for immigration cohort, years since migration, and other own and spouse characteristics. There is also some indication of an effect of parent source country gender equality for second-generation immigrants, particularly for second-generation men with children. Our findings suggest that broader cultural factors do influence the gender division of labor in the household.

Heterogeneous Effects of Early Algebra across California Middle Schools Andrew McEachin, Thurston Domina, Andrew Penner

Heterogeneous Effects of Early Algebra across California Middle Schools

Author: Andrew McEachin, Thurston Domina, Andrew Penner
Publisher: Journal of Policy Analysis and Management
Date: 02/2020

How should schools assign students to more rigorous math courses so as best to help their academic outcomes? We identify several hundred California middle schools that used 7th‐grade test scores to place students into 8th‐grade algebra courses and use a regression discontinuity design to estimate average impacts and heterogeneity across schools. Enrolling in 8th‐grade algebra boosts students’ enrollment in advanced math in ninth grade by 30 percentage points and eleventh grade by 16 percentage points. Math scores in tenth grade rise by 0.05 standard deviations. Women, students of color, and English‐language learners benefit disproportionately from placement into early algebra. Importantly, the benefits of 8th‐grade algebra are substantially larger in schools that set their eligibility threshold higher in the baseline achievement distribution. This suggests a potential tradeoff between increased access and rates of subsequent math success.

Reducing Exclusionary Attitudes through Interpersonal Conversation: Evidence from Three Field Experiments Joshua L. Kalla, David E. Broockman

Reducing Exclusionary Attitudes through Interpersonal Conversation: Evidence from Three Field Experiments

Author: Joshua L. Kalla, David E. Broockman
Publisher: American Political Science Review
Date: 02/2020

Exclusionary attitudes—prejudice toward outgroups and opposition to policies that promote their well-being—are presenting challenges to democratic societies worldwide. Drawing on insights from psychology, we argue that non-judgmentally exchanging narratives in interpersonal conversations can facilitate durable reductions in exclusionary attitudes. We support this argument with evidence from three pre-registered field experiments targeting exclusionary attitudes toward unauthorized immigrants and transgender people. In these experiments, 230 canvassers conversed with 6,869 voters across 7 US locations. In Experiment 1, face-to-face conversations deploying arguments alone had no effects on voters’ exclusionary immigration policy or prejudicial attitudes, but otherwise identical conversations also including the non-judgmental exchange of narratives durably reduced exclusionary attitudes for at least four months (d = 0.08). Experiments 2 and 3, targeting transphobia, replicate these findings and support the scalability of this strategy (ds = 0.08, 0.04). Non-judgmentally exchanging narratives can help overcome the resistance to persuasion often encountered in discussions of these contentious topics.

What Caused Racial Disparities in Particulate Exposure to Fall? New Evidence from the Clean Air Act and Satellite-Based Measures of Air Quality Janet Currie, John Voorheis, Reed Walker

What Caused Racial Disparities in Particulate Exposure to Fall? New Evidence from the Clean Air Act and Satellite-Based Measures of Air Quality

Author: Janet Currie, John Voorheis, Reed Walker
Publisher: National Bureau of Economic Research
Date: 01/2020

Racial differences in exposure to ambient air pollution have declined significantly in the United States over the past 20 years. This project links restricted-access Census Bureau microdata to newly available, spatially continuous high resolution measures of ambient particulate pollution (PM2.5) to examine the underlying causes and consequences of differences in black-white pollution exposures. We begin by decomposing differences in pollution exposure into components explained by observable population characteristics (e.g., income) versus those that remain unexplained. We then use quantile regression methods to show that a significant portion of the "unexplained" convergence in black-white pollution exposure can be attributed to differential impacts of the Clean Air Act (CAA) in non-Hispanic African American and non-Hispanic white communities. Areas with larger black populations saw greater CAA-related declines in PM2.5 exposure. We show that the CAA has been the single largest contributor to racial convergence in PM2.5 pollution exposure in the U.S. since 2000, accounting for over 60 percent of the reduction.

Unpacking Skill Bias: Automation and New Tasks Daron Acemoglu, Pascual Restrepo

Unpacking Skill Bias: Automation and New Tasks

Author: Daron Acemoglu, Pascual Restrepo
Publisher: National Bureau of Economic Research
Date: 01/2020

The standard approach to modeling inequality, building on Tinbergen's seminal work, assumes factor-augmenting technologies and technological change biased in favor of skilled workers. Though this approach has been successful in conceptualizing and documenting the race between technology and education, it is restrictive in a number of crucial respects. First, it predicts that technological improvements should increase the real wages of all workers. Second, it requires sizable productivity growth to account for realistic changes in relative wages. Third, it is silent on changes in job and task composition. We extend this framework by modeling the allocation of tasks to factors and allowing richer forms of technological changes in particular, automation that displaces workers from tasks they used to perform, and the creation of new tasks that reinstate workers into the production process. We show that factor prices depend on the set of tasks that factors perform, and that automation: (i) powerfully impacts inequality; (ii) can reduce real wages; and (iii) can generate realistic changes in inequality with small changes in productivity. New tasks, on the other hand, can increase or reduce inequality depending on whether it is skilled or unskilled workers that have a comparative advantage in these new activities. Using industry-level estimates of displacement driven by automation and reinstatement due to new tasks, we show that displacement is associated with significant increases in industry demand for skills both before 1987 and after 1987, while reinstatement reduced the demand for skills before 1987, but generated higher demand for skills after 1987. The combined effects of displacement and reinstatement after 1987 explain a significant part of the shift towards greater demand for skills in the US economy.