Factors Affecting Worker Well-being: The Impact of Change in the Labor Market: Volume 40


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

This paper addresses revolutionary changes in the education, fertility and market work of U.S. families formed in the 1870s–1920s: Fertility fell from 5.3 to 2.6; the graduation rate of their children increased from 7% to 50%; and the fraction of adulthood wives devoted to market-oriented work increased from 7% to 23% (by one measure).

These trends are addressed within a unified framework to examine the ability of several proposed mechanisms to quantitatively replicate these changes. Based on careful calibration, the choices of successive generations of representative husband-and-wife households over the quantity and quality of their children, household production, and the extent of mother’s involvement in market-oriented production are simulated.

Rising wages, declining mortality, a declining gender wage gap, and increased efficiency and public provision of schooling cannot, individually or in combination, reduce fertility or increase stocks of human capital to levels seen in the data. The best fit of the model to the data also involves: (1) a decreased tendency among parents to view potential earnings of children as the property of parents and (2) rising consumption shares per dependent child.

Greater attention should be given the determinants of parental control of the work and earnings of children for this period.

One contribution is the gathering of information and strategies necessary to establish an initial baseline, and the time paths for parameters and targets for this period beset with data limitations. A second contribution is identifying the contributions of various mechanisms toward reaching those calibration targets.


This paper advances the specification and estimation of econometric models of retirement and saving in two earner families. The complications introduced by the interaction of retirement decisions by husbands and wives have led researchers to adopt a number of simplifications. Our analysis relaxes these restrictions. The model includes three labor market states, full-time work, partial retirement, and full retirement; reverse flows from states of lesser to greater work; an extended choice set created when spouses make independent retirement decisions; heterogeneity in time preference; varying taste parameters for full-time and part-time work; and the possibility of changes in preferences after retirement.


Job Corps is the United State’s largest and most comprehensive training program for disadvantaged youth aged 16–24 years old. A randomized social experiment concluded that, on average, individuals benefited from the program in the form of higher weekly earnings and employment prospects. At the same time, “young adults” (ages 20–24) realized much higher impacts relative to “adolescents” (ages 16–19). Employing recent nonparametric bounds for causal mediation, we investigate whether these two groups’ disparate effects correspond to them benefiting differentially from distinct aspects of Job Corps, with a particular focus on the attainment of a degree (GED, high school, or vocational). We find that, for young adults, the part of the total effect of Job Corps on earnings (employment) that is due to attaining a degree within the program is at most 41% (32%) of the total effect, whereas for adolescents that part can account for up to 87% (100%) of the total effect. We also find evidence that the magnitude of the part of the effect of Job Corps on the outcomes that works through components of Job Corps other than degree attainment (e.g., social skills, job placement, residential services) is likely higher for young adults than for adolescents. That those other components likely play a more important role for young adults has policy implications for more effectively servicing participants. More generally, our results illustrate how researchers can learn about particular mechanisms of an intervention.


This paper investigates the influences of temporary contracts along several dimensions of well-being (physical and mental health, self-assessed health and happiness) for young Italian workers. Our paper contributes to the literature exploring some new aspects of the relationship between temporary jobs and well-being in a country not frequently analysed in previous literature. We focus on the gender gap in the well-being consequences of non-permanent jobs, the influence of financial support by family in reducing well-being effects caused by temporary contracts and the interaction between gender gap and family support. We find that temporary contracts are damaging in terms of psychological health and happiness mostly for young men and individuals without family economic support. On the other hand, women’s mental health is not affected by temporary contracts and they are even better off in terms of their mental health and well-being when receiving family economic support.


This paper assesses the effect of property titling on child labor. Our main contribution is to investigate the potential impact of property rights on child labor supply by analyzing household response regarding the child labor force to exogenous changes in property ownership status. The causal role of legal ownership is isolated by comparing the effect of land titling using data from a unique study in two geographically close and demographically similar communities in Osasco, a town of 654,000 people in the Sao Paulo metropolitan area. Survey data were collected from households in both communities before and after the granting of land titles, with neither type knowing ex ante whether it would receive land titles. The econometric estimates, applying the Difference-in-Difference (DD) methodology and propensity score matching, suggest that land titling decreases child labor.


This paper looks at the changes in the time allocation of welfare recipients in the United States following the 1996 welfare reform and other changes in their economic environment. Time use is a major determinant of well-being, and for policymakers to understand the broad influences that their policies can have on a population they ought to consider changes in all activities, not simply paid work. While an increase in market work of the welfare population has been well documented, little is known on the evolution of the balance of their time. Using the Current Population Survey to model the propensity to receive welfare, together with a multiple imputation procedure, I replicate previous difference-in-differences estimates that found an increase in child care and a decline in nonmarket work. However when additional data sources are used, I find that time spent providing child care does not increase. This is especially relevant as welfare recipients are overwhelmingly poor single mothers and the welfare reform increased time at work with ambiguous effects on time spent with children. I also find that time at work follows business cycles, with dramatic increases in work time throughout the strong economy of the late 1990s, accompanied by less time in leisure activities.


This paper estimates the financial returns to higher education quality in the UK. To account for the selectivity of students to institution, we rely on a selection on observable assumption. We use several estimates including the Generalised Propensity Score (GPS) of Hirano and Imbens, which relies on a continuous measure of institutional quality. This highlights that the returns to quality are heterogeneous and mostly driven by high-quality institutions. Moving from an institution in the third quality quartile to a top quality institution is associated with a 7% increase in earnings.


This paper analyses the role of face-to-face interactions between employees of different firms meeting during work-related visits in fostering skills and generating new productive knowledge. The analysis is based on primary data collected from 1,982 business visitors to/from Australia. The results suggest that face-to-face interacting can be an effective mechanism to enhance skill formation, as it improves the stock of useful knowledge and offers opportunities to learning to both visiting and visited parties.

Publication date
Book series
Research in Labor Economics
Series copyright holder
Emerald Publishing Limited
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