Category: Data Source

The LGBTQ+ earnings gap

There is a new paper on this topic, here is the abstract:

This article provides recent estimates of earnings and mental health for sexual and gender minority young adults in the United States. Using data from a nationally representative sample of bachelor’s degree recipients, I find a significant earnings and mental health gap between self-identified LGBTQ+ and comparable heterosexual cisgender graduates. On average, sexual and gender minorities experience 22% lower earnings ten years after graduation. About half of this gap can be attributed to LGBTQ+ graduates being less likely to complete a high-paying major and work in a high-paying occupation (e.g., STEM and business). In addition, LGBTQ+ graduates are more than twice more likely to report having a mental illness. I then analyze the role of sexual orientation concealment and find a more pronounced earnings and mental health gap for closeted graduates.

That is from Marc Folch at the University of Chicago.

A new twins study

An overall twin correlation across thirty-eight measures was r = 0.95, p < .001. In contrast with previous research, the twins’ general intelligence and non-verbal reasoning scores showed some marked differences.

Yes that concerns identical twins raised in separate environments.  Here is the paper by Nancy L. Segal and Yoon-Mi Hur, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

How strong are the racial preferences of universities?

Using detailed admissions data made public in the SFFA v. Harvard and SFFA v. UNC cases, we examine how racial preferences for under-represented minorities (URMs) affect their admissions to Harvard and UNC-Chapel Hill. At Harvard, the admit rates for typical African American applicants are on average over four times larger than if they had been treated as white. For typical Hispanic applicants the increase is 2.4 times. At UNC, preferences vary substantially by whether the applicant is in-state or out-of-state. For in-state applicants, racial preferences result in an over 70% increase in the African American admit rate. For out-of-state applicants, the increase is more than tenfold. Both universities provide larger racial preferences to URMs from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.

Here is the paper, by Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler, and Tyler Ransom, forthcoming as an NBER paper.

Mexicans die from the cold

We examine the impact of temperature on mortality in Mexico using daily data over the period 1998–2017 and find that 3.8 percent of deaths in Mexico are caused by suboptimal temperature (26,000 every year). However, 92 percent of weather-related deaths are induced by cold (<12 degrees C) or mildly cold (12–20 degrees C) days and only 2 percent by outstandingly hot days (>32 degrees C). Furthermore, temperatures are twice as likely to kill people in the bottom half of the income distribution. Finally, we show causal evidence that the Seguro Popular, a universal health care policy, has saved at least 1,600 lives per year from cold weather since 2004.

That is from a new paper in American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, authored by François Cohen and Antoine Dechezleprêtre.  Here are ungated copies.

Britain fact of the day

In 1990, out-of-pocket spending by Britons on medical expenses was equivalent to 1 per cent of GDP, while across the Atlantic, uninsured Americans forked out more than twice as much, at 2.2 per cent. Thirty years on, that gap has all but disappeared. Americans’ non-reimbursable spending now stands at 1.9 per cent, and Britons’ has doubled to 1.8 per cent.

That is from John Burn-Murdoch the FT.  And this:

And the bulk of the increase in spending is from those who can least afford it. Between 2010 and 2020, the portion of UK spending that went on hospital treatments increased by 60 per cent overall, but more than doubled among the lowest-earning fifth of the population. The poorest now spend as much on private medical care as the richest, in relative terms. One in 14 of Britain’s poorest households now incurs “catastrophic healthcare costs” in a typical year — where costs exceed 40 per cent of the capacity to pay. This is up from one in 30 a decade ago…

Hmm….And here is a relevant (ungated) visual.  Via Ilya Novak.

Swiss fact of the day

Two months into Vladimir Putin’s brutal war of aggression in Ukraine, however, what is remarkable is just how little Russian capital actually seems to be in the Alps. Neutral, inscrutable Switzerland was, perhaps more than any other country, presumed to be the treasure house of the Putin kleptocracy.

But despite Bern having mirrored all of the US and EU sanctions against Russian oligarchs — measures that apply to around 900 people globally — just $8bn of Russian assets in the country have so far been frozen.

Consider, by comparison, that the channel island of Jersey alone has frozen $7bn of assets linked to a single Russian tycoon, Roman Abramovich.

Here is more from the FT.

New evidence on schooling and pandemic learning

We estimate the impact of district-level schooling mode (in-person versus hybrid or virtual learning) in the 2020-21 school year on students’ pass rates on standardized tests in Grades 3–8 across 11 states. Pass rates declined from 2019 to 2021: an average decline of 12.8 percentage points in math and 6.8 in English language arts (ELA). Focusing on within-state, within commuting zone variation in schooling mode, we estimate districts with full in-person learning had significantly smaller declines in pass rates (13.4 p.p. in math, 8.3 p.p. in ELA). The value to in-person learning was larger for districts with larger populations of Black students.

That is from a new paper by Rebecca Jack, Claie Halloran, James Okun, and Emily Oster.

What drives people to extremist YouTube videos?

There is a new and very interesting paper on this topic by Annie Y. Chen, Brendan Nyhan, Jason Reifler, Ronald E. Robertson and Christo Wilson.  Here is the abstract:

Do online platforms facilitate the consumption of potentially harmful content? Despite widespread concerns that YouTube’s algorithms send people down “rabbit holes” with recommendations to extremist videos, little systematic evidence exists to support this conjecture. Using paired behavioral and survey data provided by participants recruited from a representative sample (n=1,181), we show that exposure to alternative and extremist channel videos on YouTube is heavily concentrated among a small group of people with high prior levels of gender and racial resentment. These viewers typically subscribe to these channels (causing YouTube to recommend their videos more often) and often follow external links to them. Contrary to the “rabbit holes” narrative, non-subscribers are rarely recommended videos from alternative and extremist channels and seldom follow such recommendations when offered.

I am traveling and have not had the chance to read this paper, but I do know the authors are very able.  I am not saying this is the final word, but I would make the following observation: there are many claims made about social media, and many of them might be true, but for the most part they are still largely unfounded.

Local changes in intergenerational mobility

We study changes in intergenerational income mobility over time at the local level in the U.S., using data on individuals born in the 1980s. Previous research has found no change in mobility at the national level during this time period, but we show that this hides substantial increases and decreases in mobility at the local level. For children from low-income families, there is convergence in mobility over time, and average differences by region become much smaller. For children from high-income families, the geographic variation in mobility becomes much larger. Our results suggest caution in treating mobility as a fixed characteristic of a place.

Here is the published piece by Christopher Hnady and Katharine L. Shester.  As for a few concrete results:

1. Mobility in the southeast has been rising.

2. Mobility in the northeast has been declining.

3. There is more mobility from rural than urban areas, and this gap has been rising.

4. For wealthier families, mobility depends more on where you live.

For most of these claims, the data are from cohorts born in the 1980s.

Via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

New developments in the economics of fertility

The economics of fertility has entered a new era because these stylized facts no longer universally hold. In high-income countries, the income-fertility relationship has flattened and in some cases reversed, and the cross-country relationship between women’s labor force participation and fertility is now positive. We summarize these new facts and describe new models that are designed to address them.

That is from a new NBER paper by Matthias Doepke, Anne Hannusch, Fabian Kindermann, and Michèle Tertilt . Another result is that quality vs. quantity tradeoff models for children no longer perform very well.  And fertility-education relationships are greatly weakened, just as the income-fertility relationships are.  The marketization of childcare is likely an important cause of this shift.

Italy and Spain are two countries where the income-fertility relationship is not being reversed.

Father contribution rates to child-raising are growing in importance for fertility.  Fathers seem most interested in their children in Norway, and least interested in Russia, of the countries sampled.

If a couple disagrees on having another kid, the chance they do is relatively small.

In Denmark in 2015, six percent of all births occurred with some kind of medical help related to conception.

There are now positive correlations between public childcare provision, though I do not in this paper see any reliable causal estimate.

The paper has a section on social norms, but it oddly fails to consider religion.

There is some evidence for peer effects mattering for fertility, for instance in a workplace.

98 pp. of text, perhaps no huge revelations, but interesting throughout.

Additive Growth

That is a new and quite interesting paper by Thomas Philippon.  Here is the abstract:

Growth theory is based on the assumption of exponential total factor productivity (TFP) growth. Across countries and time periods I find that TFP growth is actually linear. Unlike the exponential model, the additive growth model provides useful medium-term forecasts of TFP. It also explains the TFP slowdown and the volatility puzzle, and predicts falling real interest rates. For the distant future the model predicts ever increasing increments in standards of living but with growth rates that converge to zero. For the distant past the model suggests that the size of TFP increments has changed in the late 1600’s, the early 1800’s, and around 1930.

Or consider this presentation:

Initial trend growth is around 2.5%. After 40 years, TFP doubles, and since increments are constant, the trend growth rate is half of what it used to be. After 60 years later, it is only one percent.


…the process of US TFP increments has only one break over the past 130 years, around 1930, following the large-scale implementation of the electricity revolution…For the UK, I find two breaks between 1600 and 1914. The first is between 1650 and 1700, when growth becomes positive. The second is around 1830. These breaks are consistent with historical research on the first and second industrial revolutions…

The author argues that linear TFP growth holds for Thailand, Taiwan, and Korea as well, and indeed for all recent countries with data for TFP.

As Philippon puts it informally “New ideas add to our stock of knowledge; they do not multiply it.”

As stated above a very interesting paper, but I do have some worries.  First, his model fits “TFP” better than gdp growth per se, which (at least until recently) does appear to be exponential in advanced economies.  If I read the author’s pp.21-22 correctly, he is suggesting (speculatively) that 20th century gdp growth received an artificial inflation from improvements in educational achievement that perhaps are unlikely to be replicated.  Maybe, but the broader predictions of the theory — including on gdp growth — require further consideration.

Second, is TFP even “a real thing”?  Or is it a meaning-poor residual, based on arbitrary distinctions between “innovation” and “investment”?  Maybe the ongoing trend is simply that more innovation is embodied in concrete investments, thus causing TFP to measure lower?  Too much of the paper takes the TFP concept for granted.

Nonetheless worth a real ponder.

Pakistan synthetic control estimate of the day

I find that Pakistan’s per capita GDP would have been an average of about $718 per year higher had the country not undertaken the effort to produce a nuclear weapon. This equates to per capita GDP being 27.8 percent lower on average over the 25-year weapons-development period. Results are robust to several alternative specifications, including country exclusion, sparse synthetic controls, non-outcome characteristics as predictors of GDP, and in-space placebo experiments of differing specifications.

Here is the paper by Anthony Mayberry, via TEKL.

*Streets of Gold*

In one of our research  projects, we followed pairs of brothers born in Norway, one of whom left for the United States by 1900 while the other remained behind…Brothers who immigrated to the United States earned nearly twice as much as their siblings back home.

That is from the new and excellent Streets of Gold: America’s Untold Story of Immigrant Success, by Ran Abramitzky and Leah Boustan.

Television gets you to spend money

Especially on cars (and other durable goods):

I compare growth in retail sales between areas with and without local TV service over the unanticipated Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Freeze, which halted the licensing of new TV stations from 1948–52. I find three results that corroborate TV’s long-attributed role in American consumerism. First, during the Freeze, total retail sales in counties with TV access increased by 3–4% more on average than in counties without access. Second, the effect of TV was concentrated in the automobile sector, which alone accounted for a third of the total difference.

Here is the full paper by Woojin Kim, via the excellent Kevin Lewis.

The extreme illusion of understanding

Though speakers and listeners monitor communication success, they systematically overestimate it. We report an extreme illusion of understanding that exists even without shared language. Native Mandarin Chinese speakers overestimated how well native English-speaking Americans understood what they said in Chinese, even when they were informed that the listeners knew no Chinese. These listeners also believed they understood the intentions of the Chinese speakers much more than they actually did. This extreme illusion impacts theories of speech monitoring and may be consequential in real-life, where miscommunication is costly.

That is from a new paper by Becky Ka Ling Yau,  Via the excellent Kevin Lewis.