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Not working: demographic changes, policy changes, and the distribution of weeks (not) worked

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Author Info

  • Lisa Barrow
  • Kristin F. Butcher

Abstract

From 1978 to 2000 the fraction of adult men in full-year non-employment increased from 17.1 to 21.6 percent. Previous research focused on the role of disability insurance policy and wage structure changes to explain this increase. Using Current Population Surveys from 1979 to 2003 we assess how much of the changes in full-year non-employment can be explained by demographic changes, possibly linked to health. With our empirical strategy we examine how 1978 to 2000 changes in demographic characteristics would have changed the distribution of weeks worked if policies and macroeconomic conditions remained as they were in 1978. For prime-aged men, we find changes in age, race, and ethnicity can “explain” 14 to 33 percent of the increase in full-year non-employment, without any change in policy or wage structure. For prime-aged women, changes in demographics also would have predicted increases in full-year nonemployment, when in fact we saw dramatic decreases.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago in its series Working Paper Series with number WP-04-23.

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Date of creation: 2004
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Handle: RePEc:fip:fedhwp:wp-04-23

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Keywords: Demography ; Labor policy ; Labor market;

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References

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  1. Jeremy Greenwood & Ananth Seshadri & Mehmet Yorukoglu, 2002. "Engines of Liberation," Economie d'Avant Garde Research Reports 2, Economie d'Avant Garde.
  2. Bartel, Ann & Taubman, Paul, 1986. "Some Economic and Demographic Consequences of Mental Illness," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 4(2), pages 243-56, April.
  3. Daron Acemoglu & Joshua Angrist, 1998. "Consequences of Employment Protection? The Case of the Americans with Disabilities Act," NBER Working Papers 6670, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Anderson Katharine & Barrow Lisa & Butcher Kristin F., 2005. "Implications of Changes in Men's and Women's Labor Force Participation for Real Compensation Growth and Inflation," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 5(1), pages 1-27, March.
  5. Patricia M. Anderson & Kristin F. Butcher & Phillip B. Levine, 2003. "Economic perspectives on childhood obesity," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q III, pages 30-48.
  6. Alan S. Blinder, 1973. "Wage Discrimination: Reduced Form and Structural Estimates," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 8(4), pages 436-455.
  7. Chinhui Juhn & Kevin Murphy & Robert Topel, 2002. "Current Unemployment, Historically Contemplated," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 33(1), pages 79-136.
  8. John Bound & Timothy Waidmann, 2000. "Accounting for Recent Declines in Employment Rates among the Working-Aged Disabled," NBER Working Papers 7975, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  9. Bound, John & Waidmann, Timothy, 1992. "Disability Transfers, Self-Reported Health, and the Labor Force Attachment of Older Men: Evidence from the Historical Record," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(4), pages 1393-419, November.
  10. Thomas DeLeire, 2000. "The Wage and Employment Effects of the Americans with Disabilities Act," Working Papers 0008, Harris School of Public Policy Studies, University of Chicago.
  11. Mark Duggan & Scott A. Imberman, 2009. "Why Are the Disability Rolls Skyrocketing? The Contribution of Population Characteristics, Economic Conditions, and Program Generosity," NBER Chapters, in: Health at Older Ages: The Causes and Consequences of Declining Disability among the Elderly, pages 337-379 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Amitabh Chandra, 2003. "Is the Convergence of the Racial Wage Gap Illusory?," NBER Working Papers 9476, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. John Bound & Timothy Waidmann, 2002. "Accounting for Recent Declines in Employment Rates among Working-Aged Men and Women with Disabilities," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 37(2), pages 231-250.
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Cited by:
  1. Lisa Barrow, 2004. "Is the official unemployment rate misleading? a look at labor market statistics over the business cycle," Economic Perspectives, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, issue Q II, pages 21-35.

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