Their analysis of publications and career mobility suggests that, in the case of advanced-level mathematics, the "pie" is essentially fixed, with no positive spillovers for native scholars. Another emerging strand of research by LS members focuses on the broader impacts of immigration flows on local and national economies. Frederic Docquier, Caglar Ozden, and Giovanni Peri use new data on labor force stocks and migration flows by education level for OECD countries, combined with detailed models of the labor markets in each country, to simulate impacts of population movements on a country-by-country basis.
They conclude that immigration has been a net positive factor for workers in most countries. Francine Blau and Lawrence Kahn similarly review the effects of immigration on the overall distribution of incomes in the United States and other major countries. They conclude that the presence of immigrants has contributed to wage inequality, although the effect is small relative to other forces, such as technology and trade. Peri similarly concludes that immigration has had little effect on poverty rates in the United States.
Language skills have long been recognized as a major factor in understanding differences between natives and immigrants, and several recent NBER working papers explore the impacts of language ability among immigrants.
Jennifer Hunt finds that the lack of English language skills accounts for most of the pay gap between natives and immigrants with an undergraduate degree in engineering. Ethan Lewis shows that differences in language skills lead to a segmentation of the occupations held by immigrants and natives.
The segmentation is most apparent in cities with large fractions of Spanish speakers. In the extreme case of Puerto Rico, Lewis finds that immigrants and natives are in much more direct labor market competition.
Though the wide disparities in the labor market status of men and women that characterized earlier generations have narrowed, many differences remain, and in some cases new gaps have opened up. Much recent attention has focused on the dramatic reversal of the gender gap in educational attainment. As documented by Claudia Goldin, Lawrence Katz, and Ilyana Kuziemko , female high school graduates had narrowed the differences with the male peers in achievement test scores, and were more likely to attend and graduate from college, by the early s.
Blau, Peter Brummund, and Albert Yung-Hsu Liu show that this sharp rise in relative education of women correlates with a decline in occupational segregation between male and female workers, as more educated women have entered traditionally male occupations. While women are more likely to attend and complete college than men, there are still large differences in fields of study. Joseph Altonji, Erica Blom, and Costas Meghir use data on field of degree in the American Community Survey to document that women are under-represented in engineering, computer science, physics, economics, and business, but over-represented in communications, psychology, education, and English.
The latter fields are associated with lower earnings for both men and women. These researchers show that differences in college major choices are an important contributor to the earnings disparities between college-educated men and women.
One factor that may explain some of the gender gap in education choices, career progression, and pay is a difference in "competitiveness". Muriel Niederle and Lise Vesterlund conducted a series of laboratory experiments to gauge willingness to compete in tournament-like competitions, and found sharp differences between men and women that remain even after controlling for risk aversion and over-optimism. Thomas Buser, Niederle, and Hessel Oosternbeek correlate similar measures for students in the Netherlands, and show that differences in competitiveness help to explain the lower fraction of girls who choose the most prestigious science-based track at high school.
More recent cohorts of women also have narrowed the gap in cumulative labor market experience relative to men. Martha Bailey, Brad Hershbein, and Amalia Miller show that some of this increase in career attachment was due to easier access to birth control and lower early fertility.
Raquel Fernandez and Joyce Cheng Wong highlight the effect of the rising risk of divorce on women's decisions to acquire more education and stay attached to the labor market. The rise in the relative success of women also may have been helped along by a decline in the demand for the manual skills traditionally supplied by less-educated men. Paul Beaudry and Lewis show that in cities where the college-high school wage gap has risen more quickly, the male-female wage gap has narrowed more quickly.
They then show that both trends were correlated with more rapid local adoption of computer technology in the s and s, underscoring the role of changing relative skill demand. Similarly, Chinhui Juhn, Gergely Ujhelyi, and Carolina Villegas-Sanchez show that passage of NAFTA led Mexican firms to adopt new technologies that reduced the demand for physical skills and ultimately led to increased hiring of women relative to men. Despite the progress made by recent cohorts, women still fall behind men, particularly in certain fields like science and engineering, and in high-profile careers in management and business.
They find that the presence of children is a powerful predictor of career interruptions and lower hours for females, but not for men, and that these factors are highly related to earnings.
While research is still ongoing, prominent contributions by LS members already have shed light on the labor market impacts of the Great Recession and its likely consequences. Michael Elsby, Bart Hobijn, and Ayesegul Sahin provide an early analysis of the labor market consequences of the downturn that began in They note that the impact of the recession was particularly severe for men, who were disproportionately affected by job losses in construction and manufacturing.
They also highlight the remarkable growth in long-term unemployment which is one of the hallmarks of the Great Recession. Comparing recent job losers to those in earlier surveys, he noted a sharp decline in re-employment rates and a rise in measured earnings losses.
For example, a consistent pattern in early childhood interventions is that these programs have long-run impacts on adult outcomes such as educational attainment and earnings, despite "fade-out" of test score gains. This has led researchers to conclude — indirectly — that the causal mecha-nism might be soft skills.
One might conclude from this that the construct of cognitive skill is inherently more valid. However, this ignores the history of measurement. Psychologists — and the testing industry — have spent several decades and millions of dollars systematically improving and refining the measurement of cognitive skills. The modern IQ test was created as a tool to diagnose intellectual delay, with lower scores simply indicating that children were unable to perform tasks that were "typical" for their same-age peers.
Psychologists only later discovered that IQ test scores predict a variety of other outcomes such as grades, achievement test scores and earnings. By comparison, measurement of soft skills is in an embryonic stage. The scholarly consensus about the importance of different human capacities is driven by how well these capacities can be measured.
If we could develop reliable and context-invariant tests of important soft skills such as self-control and social intelligence, I would not be surprised if they ended up being equal or better predictors of labor market outcomes than IQ. Soft skills are most often measured using survey questions that ask respondents to self-assess their personality characteristics. A prominent example is the Big 5 personality inventory, a rigorously developed psychological model that distills human personality into five factors — extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, and openness to experience.
First, they are highly context-dependent. Some recent evidence suggests that the cross-country correlation between conscien-tiousness and average hours worked is negative. Yet out of 26 countries, France places fourth and South Korea places 25th in self-reported conscientiousness.
However, Shelly Lundberg shows that using school suspensions as a behavioral measure of impulsivity is problematic, since suspensions are also determined by school context, racial discrimination, and other unknown factors. I am as guilty as anyone else when it comes to using poor measures of soft skills.
Here, economists may be able to learn from psychologists, who have carefully developed measures that map cleanly to underlying constructs but mostly have not subjected these measures to rigorous testing in a variety of field settings. One possibly useful measure of social intelligence is the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test RMET , a measure of emotion recognition or social sensitivity.
However, much like IQ, psychologists have discovered that the RMET has predictive power for a wide variety of outcomes within a general population.
While the RMET is not perfect, it has two advantages relative to existing measures of soft skills. First, there are correct answers to the questions, which prevents reference group bias.
Second, there is a well-grounded theory of how the underlying capacity theory of mind relates to task performance emotion recognition in human faces.
While there are many studies that probe the validity and reliability of the RMET across settings, I am not aware of any large-scale study that measures RMET performance in a broader population, and that addresses the correlation between social intelligence and measures of socioeconomic status such as income and parental education.
There are many open questions to be answered. Does the RMET predict life out-comes at all? Is it differentially predictive for some groups? A research program that carefully builds out a mapping between theoretical constructs and measurement strategies for other soft skills such as creativity, self-control, and adaptability would be a foundational contribution.
Return to College or Return to Unobserved Ability? Bresnahan, "Computerisation and Wage Dispersion: Snower, "Multitask Learning and the Reorganization of Work: Baron-Cohen, "Theory of Mind and Autism: A Fifteen Year Review," in S. Oxford University Press, , pp.
Bell and Sons, The model is isomorphic to the two-country, continuum of goods model in R. Jane Costello, and W. Applied Economics , 1 3 , , pp. Whitmore Schanzenbach, and D. History, Measurement, and Theoretical Perspectives," in L.
Theory and Research , New York: The Guilford Press, , pp. Gabrieli, "Promise and Paradox: Borghans, "Fostering and Measuring Skills: Development of the American Economy. Economic Fluctuations and Growth. International Finance and Macroeconomics. International Trade and Investment. Productivity, Innovation, and Entrepreneurship. The Women Working Longer Project. Illinois Workplace Wellness Study. The Oregon Health Insurance Experiment. He is also the Mitsui Professor of Economics at M.
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