2021 Kuznets Prize of the Journal of Population Economics Awarded to Yun Qiu, Xi Chen, and Wei Shi.

2021 Kuznets Prize Awarded to Yun Qiu, Xi Chen, & Wei Shi as announced by the office of the Journal of Population Economics.

Yun Qiu (Jinan University), Xi Chen (Yale University), and Wei Shi (Jinan University) will receive the 2021 Kuznets Prize for their article (please click title below for OPEN ACCESS)

Impacts of social and economic factors on the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China

which was published in the Journal of Population Economics (2020), 33(4), pp. 1127–1172. The annual prize honors the best article published in the Journal of Population Economics in the previous year.

The award will be given to the authors during a special public journal event in the Fall of 2020.

Biographical Abstracts

Yun Qiu is an assistant professor at Institute for Economic and Social Research at Jinan University (Guangzhou, China). She obtained a Ph.D. in Agricultural, Environmental, and Development Economics from the Ohio State University. She is a Fellow of the Global Labor Organization (GLO). Yun uses applied econometric techniques to conduct research in areas focused on (1) understanding the health and productivity impacts of extreme weather and air pollution in China; (2) characterizing the influencing factors of the spread of COVID-19 and its socioeconomic impacts; (3) valuing coastal adaptation strategies and urban amenities.

Xi Chen is an associate professor of Health Policy and Economics at Yale University. He obtained a Ph.D. in Applied Economics from Cornell University. His research endeavors focus on improving public policies on population aging, life course health, and global health systems. Dr. Chen is a consultant at the United Nations Institutions, Fellow at the Global Labor Organization (GLO), former President of the China Health Policy and Management Society, and Butler-Williams Scholar at the U.S. National Institutes of Health. Dr. Chen’s work has been published in prestigious economics, science and medical journals, recognized through numerous awards, and widely covered in media.

Wei Shi is an associate professor at the Institute for Economic and Social Research, Jinan University (Guangzhou, China). His research interests include topics in econometrics, real estate economics, and applied microeconomics. His current research focuses on panel data models with spatial interactions and multidimensional heterogeneities, peer effects models, and applications of spatial econometric models. He is a Fellow of the Global Labor Organization (GLO) and obtained his Ph.D. in economics from the Ohio State University.

Abstract of the Winning Paper

“This study models local and cross-city transmissions of the novel coronavirus in China between January 19 and February 29, 2020. We examine the role of various socioeconomic mediating factors, including public health measures that encourage social distancing in local communities. Weather characteristics 2 weeks prior are used as instrumental variables for causal inference. Stringent quarantines, city lockdowns, and local public health measures imposed in late January significantly decreased the virus transmission rate. The virus spread was contained by the middle of February. Population outflow from the outbreak source region posed a higher risk to the destination regions than other factors, including geographic proximity and similarity in economic conditions. We quantify the effects of different public health measures in reducing the number of infections through counterfactual analyses. Over 1.4 million infections and 56,000 deaths may have been avoided as a result of the national and provincial public health measures imposed in late January in China.”

About the Kuznets Prize

The Journal of Population Economics awards the ‘Kuznets Prize’ for the best paper published in the Journal of Population Economics in the previous year. Starting from 2014 the Prize has been awarded annually. Papers are judged by the Editors of the Journal.

Simon Kuznets, a pioneer in population economics, Professor Emeritus at Harvard University and the 1971 Nobel Prize laureate in economics, died on July 10, 1985. Professor Kuznets was born 1901 in Pinsk, Belarus, and came to the United States in 1922. He earned his Bachelor of Science in 1923, a Master of Arts degree in 1924 and his doctorate in 1926, all from Columbia University. During World War II he was Associate Director of the Bureau of Planning and Statistics on the War Production Board, and he served on the staff of the National Bureau of Economic Research from 1927 to 1960. Mr. Kuznets was a faculty member at the University of Pennsylvania for 24 years and Professor of Political Economy at Johns Hopkins University from 1954 until he joined Harvard University in 1960. He retired in 1971 and was given the title of George F. Baker Professor Emeritus of Economics. He was a former president of the American Economic Association and the American Statistical Association.

Previous Winners

The Kuznets Prize (please click titles for READ LINKS FOR FREE) has previously been awarded to:

2020: Gautam Hazarika (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley), Chandan Kumar Jha (Le Moyne College, Madden School of Business), and Sudipta Sarangi (Virginia Tech) for their article “Ancestral ecological endowments and missing women,“ Journal of Population Economics (2019), 32(4): pp. 1101-1123.

2019: Yoo-Mi Chin (Baylor University) and Nicholas Wilson (Reed College) for their article “Disease risk and fertility: evidence from the HIV/AIDS pandemic,” Journal of Population Economics 31(2): pp. 429-451.

2018: Chunbei Wang and Le Wang (University of Oklahoma) for their article “Knot yet: Minimum marriage age law, marriage delay, and earnings,” Journal of Population Economics 30(3): pp. 771-804.

2017: Binnur Balkan (Stockholm School of Economics) and Semih Tumen (Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey) for their article “Immigration and prices: quasi-experimental evidence from Syrian refugees in Turkey,” Journal of Population Economics 29(3): pp. 657-686.

2016: Loren Brandt (University of Toronto), Aloysius Siow (University of Toronto), and Hui Wang (Peking University) for their article “Compensating for unequal parental investments in schooling,” Journal of Population Economics 28: 423-462.

2015: Haoming Liu (National University of Singapore) for his article “The quality–quantity trade-off: evidence from the relaxation of China’s one-child policy”, Journal of Population Economics 27: 565-602.

2014: Paolo Masella (University of Essex) for his article “National Identity and Ethnic Diversity“, Journal of Population Economics 26: 437-454.

Period 2010-2012: Richard W. Evans (Brigham Young University), Yingyao Hu (Johns Hopkins University) and Zhong Zhao (Renmin University) for their article “The fertility effect of catastrophe: US hurricane births“, Journal of Population Economics 23: 1-36.

Period 2007-2009: Makoto Hirazawa (Nagoya University) and Akira Yakita (Nagoya University) for their article “Fertility, child care outside the home, and pay-as-you-go social security“, Journal of Population Economics 22: 565-583.

Period 2004-2006: Jinyoung Kim (Korea University) received the Kuznets Prize for his article “Sex selection and fertility in a dynamic model of conception and abortion,” Journal of Population Economics 18: 041-067.

Period 2001–2003: Olympia Bover (Bank of Spain) and Manuel Arellano (CEMFI), for their article “Learning about migration decisions from the migrants: Using complementary datasets to model intra-regional migrations in Spain”, Journal of Population Economics 15:357–380.

Period 1998–2000: David C. Ribar (The George Washington University), for his article “The socioeconomic consequences of young women’s childbearing: Reconciling disparate evidence”, Journal of Population Economics 12: 547–565.

Period 1995–1997: James R. Walker (University of Wisconsin-Madison), for his article “The effect of public policies on recent Swedish fertility behavior”, Journal of Population Economics, 8: 223–251.

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The effect of paid vacation on health: evidence from Sweden.

A new paper published ONLINE FIRST in the Journal of Population Economics challenges the anecdotal view of additional paid vacation days as an adequate means to improve workers’ health.

Read more in:

The effect of paid vacation on health: evidence from Sweden

Thomas Hofmarcher

Published ONLINE FIRST. Forthcoming: Journal of Population Economics (2021), volume 34. FREE READLINK: https://rdcu.be/b7sJK

Author Abstract: This study estimates the causal effect of paid vacation on health. Using register data on the universe of central government employees in Sweden, I exploit an age-based rule stipulated in the collective agreement covering these employees. I achieve identification by combining a regression discontinuity with a difference-in-differences design to control for time-invariant differences between consecutive birth cohorts and isolate the true effect at two separate discontinuities at ages 30 and 40. The main results indicate that an increase of three paid vacation days at age 30 and four days at age 40 do not cause significant changes in health, as proxied by visits to specialized outpatient care, inpatient admissions, and long-term sick leaves. These findings challenge the anecdotal view of additional paid vacation days as an adequate means to improve workers’ health.

Access to the newly published complete Volume 33, Issue 4, October 2020.

LEAD ARTICLE OF ISSUE 4:
Yun Qiu, Xi Chen & Wei Shi, Impacts of social and economic factors on the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China
Journal of Population Economics 33, 1127–1172 (2020). OPEN ACCESS
Over 21K journal downloads & over 60 Google Scholar cites as of September 10, 2020.

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Working from home and income inequality: risks of a ‘new normal’ with COVID-19

A new paper published in the Journal of Population Economics investigates for the Italian case the effects of working from home on income inequality at the time of COVID-19 and the implications for the future.


Read more in:

Working from home and income inequality: risks of a ‘new normal’ with COVID-19

Luca Bonacini, Giovanni Gallo & Sergio Scicchitano

Journal of Population Economics (2020), published ONLINE FIRST.
PDF free accessible. Based on GLO Discussion Paper No. 541, 2020

GLO Fellows Giovanni Gallo & Sergio Scicchitano and GLO Affiliate Luca Bonacini

Author Abstract: In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, working from home (WFH) became of great importance for a large share of employees since it represents the only option to both continue working and minimise the risk of virus exposure. Uncertainty about the duration of the pandemic and future contagion waves even led companies to view WFH as a ‘new normal’ way of working. Based on influence function regression methods, this paper explores the potential consequences in the labour income distribution related to a long-lasting increase in WFH feasibility among Italian employees. Results show that a positive shift in WFH feasibility would be associated with an increase in average labour income, but this potential benefit would not be equally distributed among employees. Specifically, an increase in the opportunity to WFH would favour male, older, high-educated, and high-paid employees. However, this ‘forced innovation’ would benefit more employees living in provinces have been more affected by the novel coronavirus. WFH thus risks exacerbating pre-existing inequalities in the labour market, especially if it will not be adequately regulated. As a consequence, this study suggests that policies aimed at alleviating inequality, like income support measures (in the short run) and human capital interventions (in the long run), should play a more important compensating role in the future.

More from the GLO Coronavirus Cluster

Access to the newly published complete Volume 33, Issue 4, October 2020.

LEAD ARTICLE OF ISSUE 4:
Yun Qiu, Xi Chen & Wei Shi, Impacts of social and economic factors on the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China
Journal of Population Economics 33, 1127–1172 (2020). OPEN ACCESS

OTHER COVID-19 ARTICLES JUST PUBLISHED ONLINE FIRST.

Fabio Milani: COVID-19 outbreak, social response, and early economic effects: A global VAR analysis of cross-country interdependencies. Journal of Population Economics, (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-020-00792-4.
PDF free accessible.

Luca Bonacini, Giovanni Gallo & Fabrizio Patriarca: Identifying policy challenges of COVID-19 in hardly reliable data and judging the success of lockdown measures. Journal of Population Economics, (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00148-020-00799-x PDF free accessible.

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Second Webinar in the GLO Virtual Young Scholar (GLO-VirtYS) Program, Cohort 2019-20: Report and Video.

Second webinar in the GLO Virtual Young Scholar (GLO-VirtYS) Program, Cohort 2019-20

All the presentation in this series are based on the projects that GLO-VirtYS program scholars completed as part of their program participation.

September 17th Program

Sydney (10pm), Beijing (8pm), Istanbul (3pm), Berlin (2pm), London (1pm), Cape Town (2pm), Washington DC (8am), Santiago de Chile (8am)

  1. Satyendra Kumar Gupta, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy and GLO Affiliate
    Irrigation and Culture: Gender Roles and Women’s Rights (GLO VirtYS program advisor Professor Almas Heshmati)
  2. Kelly Hyde, University of Pittsburgh and GLO Affiliate
    The Regressive Costs of Drinking Water Contaminant Avoidance (GLO VirtYS program advisor Professor Anurag Sharma)

Chaired by GLO VirtYS Program Director Olena Nizalova.
Full video of the event.
For more information about both speakers and their paper abstracts.

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Is happiness U-shaped everywhere? Age and subjective well-being in 145 countries.

A new paper published ONLINE FIRST in the Journal of Population Economics provides global evidence that the U-shaped happiness-age curve is everywhere.

Read more in:

Is happiness U-shaped everywhere? Age and subjective well-being in 145 countries

David G. Blanchflower

Published ONLINE FIRST. Forthcoming: Journal of Population Economics (2021), volume 34. FREE READLINK: https://rdcu.be/b7kyO

Also GLO Discussion Paper No. 530, 2020.

Watch also his related GLO Virtual Seminar presentation on Despair, Unhappiness and Age. Video of seminar.

GLO Fellow David G. Banchflower & Research Director GLO

Author Abstract: A large empirical literature has debated the existence of a U-shaped happiness-age curve. This paper re-examines the relationship between various measures of well-being and age in 145 countries, including 109 developing countries, controlling for education and marital and labor force status, among others, on samples of individuals under the age of 70. The U-shape of the curve is forcefully confirmed, with an age minimum, or nadir, in midlife around age 50 in separate analyses for developing and advanced countries as well as for the continent of Africa. The happiness curve seems to be everywhere. While panel data are largely unavailable for this issue, and the findings using such data largely confirm the cross-section results, the paper discusses insights on why cohort effects do not drive the findings. I find the age of the minima has risen over time in Europe and the USA.

Access to the newly published complete Volume 33, Issue 4, October 2020.

LEAD ARTICLE OF ISSUE 4:
Yun Qiu, Xi Chen & Wei Shi, Impacts of social and economic factors on the transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in China
Journal of Population Economics 33, 1127–1172 (2020). OPEN ACCESS
Over 21K journal downloads & over 60 Google Scholar cites as of September 10, 2020.

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Long Live the Vacancy

A new GLO Discussion Paper studies the role of long-term vacancies in a Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides style search and matching model calibrated to the US economy and identifies a vacancy depletion channel.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.

GLO Discussion Paper No. 654, 2020

Long Live the Vacancy Download PDF
by
Haefke, Christian & Reiter, Michael

GLO Fellow Christian Haefke

Author Abstract: We reassess the role of vacancies in a Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides style search and matching model. In the absence of free entry long lived vacancies and endogenous separations give rise to a vacancy depletion channel which we identify via joint unemployment and vacancy dynamics. We show conditions for constrained efficiency and discuss important implications of vacancy longevity for modeling and calibration, in particular regarding match cyclicality and wages. When calibrated to the postwar US economy, the model explains not only standard deviations and autocorrelations of labor market variables, but also their dynamic correlations with only one shock.

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS,  EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.

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Pay Gaps and Mobility for Lower and Upper Tier Informal Sector Employees: an investigation of the Turkish labor market

A new GLO Discussion Paper studies the wage gap between formal and informal sector workers in Turkey confirming that an informal wage penalty is persistent even after unobserved heterogeneity is taken into account.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.

GLO Discussion Paper No. 655, 2020

Pay Gaps and Mobility for Lower and Upper Tier Informal Sector Employees: an investigation of the Turkish labor marketDownload PDF
by
Duman, Anil

GLO Fellow Anil Duman

Author Abstract: Many empirical studies found wage gaps between formal and informal sector workers even after controlling for a number of individual and firm level characteristics. While there is limited amount of research considering the same question in the Turkish labor market, wage gap between formal and informal employees generally do not take unobserved characteristics into account. In our paper, we carry this analysis for Turkey and estimate the wage gap between formal and informal sector workers utilizing panel data from Survey of Income and Living Conditions (SILC) for the period of 2014 and 2017. Mincer wage equations across quantiles are estimated considering observable and unobservable characteristics with a fixed effect model, and for sensitivity tests we regard the possibility of nonlinearity in covariate effects and estimate a variant of matching models. Our results show that informal wage penalty is persistent even after unobserved heterogeneity is taken into account, however, the penalty is not statistically significant at the upper end of the wage distribution. Moreover, we show that there are important differences between informal workers who have permanent contracts versus informal workers that have relatively more irregular work arrangements. Not only the latter is subject to earnings reductions, but they also have slightly lower probability of moving out of informal employment. We also demonstrate that the mobility of lower and upper tier informal workers is affected by different variables.

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS,  EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.

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Unemployment, Immigration, and Populism: Evidence from Two Quasi-Natural Experiments in the United States

A new GLO Discussion Paper studies the effects of unemployment and unauthorized immigration on attitudes related to populism and populist voting in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.

GLO Discussion Paper No. 652, 2020

Unemployment, Immigration, and Populism: Evidence from Two Quasi-Natural Experiments in the United States Download PDF
by
Chen, Shuai

GLO Fellow Shuai Chen

Author Abstract: This paper examines how economic insecurity and cultural anxiety have triggered different dimensions of the current populism in the United States. Specifically, I exploit two quasi-natural experiments, the Great Recession and the 2014 Northern Triangle immigrant influx, to investigate the effects of unemployment and unauthorized immigration on attitudes related to populism and populist voting in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election. I discover that recent unemployment during the Great Recession, rather than existing unemployment from before the recession, increased the probability of attitudes forming against wealthy elites by 15 percentage points. Such attitudes are connected with left-wing populism. I identify perceived economic unfairness as a mechanism through which recent unemployment drove left-wing populism. However, cultural anxiety rather than economic insecurity more likely led to the over 10 percentage points rise in the probability of anti-immigration attitudes developing. These attitudes are related to right-wing populism. Furthermore, I obtain evidence that cohorts economically suffering the aftermath of the Great Recession were associated with 40 percentage points higher likelihood of supporting left-wing populist Bernie Sanders, while cohorts residing in regions most intensely impacted by the immigrant in ux were associated with 10 percentage points higher possibility to vote for right-wing populist Donald Trump. This study attempts to link distinct economic and cultural driving forces to different types of populism and to contribute to the understanding on the potential interactions of the economic and cultural triggers of the currently surging populism.

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS,  EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.

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Impacts of COVID-19 on Food Security: Panel Data Evidence from Nigeria

A new GLO Discussion Paper quantifies the overall and differential impacts of COVID-19 on household food security, labor market participation and local food prices in Nigeria.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is an independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that functions as an international network and virtual platform to stimulate global research, debate and collaboration.

GLO Discussion Paper No. 653, 2020

Impacts of COVID-19 on Food Security: Panel Data Evidence from NigeriaDownload PDF
by
Amare, Mulubrhan & Abay, Kibrom A. & Tiberti, Luca & Chamberlin, Jordan

GLO Fellow Luca Tiberti

Author Abstract: This paper combines pre-pandemic face-to-face survey data with follow up phone surveys collected in April-May 2020 to quantify the overall and differential impacts of COVID-19 on household food security, labor market participation and local food prices in Nigeria. We exploit spatial variation in exposure to COVID-19 related infections and lockdown measures along with temporal differences in our outcomes of interest using a difference-in-difference approach. We find that those households exposed to higher COVID-19 cases or mobility lockdowns experience a significant increase in measures of food insecurity. Examining possible transmission channels for this effect, we find that COVID-19 significantly reduces labor market participation and increases food prices. We find that impacts differ by economic activities and households. For instance, lockdown measures increased households’ experience of food insecurity by 13 percentage points and reduced the probability of participation in non-farm business activities by 11 percentage points. These lockdown measures have smaller impacts on wage-related activities and farming activities. In terms of food security, households relying on non-farm businesses, poorer households, those with school-aged children, and those living in remote and conflicted-affected zones have experienced relatively larger deteriorations in food security. These findings can help inform immediate and medium-term policy responses, including social protection policies aiming at ameliorating the impacts of the pandemic, as well as guide targeting strategies of governments and international donor agencies by identifying the most impacted sub-populations.

More from the GLO Coronavirus Cluster

GLO Discussion Papers are research and policy papers of the GLO Network which are widely circulated to encourage discussion. Provided in cooperation with EconStor, a service of the ZBW – Leibniz Information Centre for Economics, GLO Discussion Papers are among others listed in RePEc (see IDEAS,  EconPapers)Complete list of all GLO DPs – downloadable for free.

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Second Webinar in the GLO Virtual Young Scholar (GLO-VirtYS) Program, Cohort 2019-20. First announcement for September 17, 2020.

Second webinar in the GLO Virtual Young Scholar (GLO-VirtYS) Program, Cohort 2019-20

All the presentation in this series are based on the projects that GLO-VirtYS program scholars completed as part of their program participation.

This seminar is GLO internal, special invitation needed.

First Webinar (seminar on September 10, 2020 with presentations by Yannis Galanakis & Samuel Mann). Report of the event. Watch the video of the event.

September 17th Program

Sydney (10pm), Beijing (8pm), Istanbul (3pm), Berlin (2pm), London (1pm), Cape Town (2pm), Washington DC (8am), Santiago de Chile (8am)

  1. Satyendra Kumar Gupta, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy and GLO affiliate
    Irrigation and Culture: Gender Roles and Women’s Rights (GLO VirtYS program advisor Professor Almas Heshmati)
  2. Kelly Hyde, University of Pittsburgh and GLO affiliate
    The Regressive Costs of Drinking Water Contaminant Avoidance (GLO VirtYS program advisor Professor Anurag Sharma)

Chaired by GLO VirtYS Program Director Olena Nizalova.

Satyendra Kumar Gupta

Satyendra Kumar Gupta is working as assistant professor at Jindal School of Government and Public Policy. He received PhD in economics from NTU Singapore in 2017. His research interest are in long-run economic growth and development economics. His research interplays between the natural endowment, natural experiments and contemporary economic development. His work is published at JEEM, Land Econ, and Econ Letters.

GLO VirtYS Project

Irrigation and Culture: Gender Roles and Women’s Rights

This paper proposes the hypothesis that the historical use of irrigation reduces contemporary female labor force participation and female property rights. We test the hypothesis using an exogenous measure of irrigation and data from pre-industrial societies (Ethnographic Atlas; Standard Cross-Cultural Sample), the Afrobarometer, cross-country data, the European Social Survey, the American Community Survey, and the India Demographic and Household Survey. Our hypothesis receives considerable empirical support. First, in pre-industrial societies, irrigation was associated with reduced female relative participation in agriculture and subsistence activities. Second, we find negative associations between ancestral irrigation and female labor force participation and related attitudes in the contemporary African and Indian populations, 2nd generation European immigrants, 1.5 and 2nd generation US immigrants, and in cross-country data. Third, in Africa and across countries, ancestral irrigation is negatively associated with female property rights. Our estimates are robust to a host of control variables and alternative specifications. We find some support for four potential partial mechanisms. First, due to the common pool nature of irrigation water, pre-industrial societies had more frequent conflicts and warfare. This raised the social status of males and restricted women’s movements away from home. Second, in premodern societies irrigation activities favored males, which caused females to gravitate toward the home. Over time, these two mechanisms have produced a cultural preference against female participation in the formal labor market. Third, irrigation historically produced autocracy, which tends to weaken property rights. Fourth, historical irrigation has yielded collectivism, which is associated with weaker female property rights.

Kelly Hyde

Kelly Hyde is a PhD candidate in economics at University of Pittsburgh, with concentrations in health, environmental, and behavioral economics. His research broadly focuses on the environmental and behavioral determinants of health disparities in both developed and developing economic contexts. Kelly’s recent work studies the relationship between drinking water contamination, extreme temperatures, and dimensions of poverty in the United States, including food security and risks of adverse health outcomes. He contributes to the existing literature on adaptation to and avoidance of environmental shocks by considering their distributional implications, since the cost of avoidance looms larger for budget-constrained households. This research agenda is supported by a Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant from the National Science Foundation.

GLO VirtYS Project

The Regressive Costs of Drinking Water Contaminant Avoidance

Up to 45 million Americans in a given year are potentially exposed to contaminated drinking water, increasing their risk of a wide range of adverse health outcomes. Existing literature has demonstrated that individuals respond to drinking water quality violations by increasing their purchases of bottled water and filtration avoidance, thereby avoiding exposure to contaminants. This paper demonstrates that poorer households, for whom the costs of avoidance comprise a greater share of disposable income, bear disproportionate costs of water quality violations in the United States. Following a health-based water quality violation reported to the Environmental Protection Agency, poor households’ expenditure on nutritious grocery products in a nationally representative panel differentially decreases by approximately $7 per month. This is associated with a decrease of about 1,500 calories per household member per day, placing these individuals at a higher risk of food insecurity. This finding suggests that the indirect costs of drinking water contamination through economic channels exacerbate health disparities associated with poverty.

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