Human Capital Accumulation at Work: Estimates for the World and Implications for Development

February 2020

Remi Jedwab, Asif Islam, Paul Romer, and Robert Samaniego

IIEP working paper 2020-3

Abstract: In this paper, we: (i) study wage-experience profiles and obtain measures of returns to potential work experience using data from about 24 million individuals in 1,084 household surveys and census samples across 145 countries; (ii) show that returns to work experience are strongly correlated with economic development – workers in developed countries appear to accumulate twice more human capital at work than workers in developing countries; and (iii) use a simple accounting framework to find that the contribution of work experience to human capital accumulation and economic development might be as important as the contribution of education itself.

JEL: O11; O12; O15; O47; E24; J11; J31

Keywords: Returns to Work Experience; Returns to Education; Human Capital Accumulation; Economic Development; Labor Markets; Development Accounting

Cities of Workers, Children or Seniors? Age Structure and Economic Growth in a Global Cross-Section of Cities

August 2019

Remi Jedwab, Daniel Pereira, and Mark Roberts

IIEP working paper 2019-13

Abstract: A large literature documents the positive influence of a city’s skill structure on its rate of economic growth. By contrast, the effect of a city’s age structure on its economic growth has been a hitherto largely neglected area of research. We hypothesize that cities with more working-age adults are likely to grow faster than cities with more children or seniors and set out the potential channels through which such differential growth may occur. Using data from a variety of historical and contemporary sources, we show that there exists marked variation in the age structure of the world’s largest cities, both across cities and over time. We then study how age structure affects economic growth for a global cross-section of mega-cities. Using various identification strategies, we find that mega-cities with higher dependency ratios – i.e. with more children and/or seniors per working-age adult – grow significantly slower. Such effects are particularly pronounced for cities with high shares of children. This result appears to be mainly driven by the direct negative effects of a higher dependency ratio on the size of the working-age population and the indirect effects on work hours and productivity for working age adults within a city.

JEL: R10; R11; R19; J11; J13; J14; O11; N30

Keywords: Urbanization; Cities; Age Structure; Dependency Ratios; Children; Ageing; Demographic Cycles; Agglomeration Effects; Human Capital; Growth; Development

Divorce among European and Mexican Immigrants in the U.S

August 2019

Barry Chiswick and Christina Houseworth

IIEP working paper 2019-12

Abstract: This paper analyzes the status of being currently divorced among European and Mexican immigrants in the U.S., among themselves and in comparison to the native born of the same ancestries. The data are for males and females age 18 to 55, who married only once, in the 2010-2014 American Community Surveys.

Among immigrants, better job opportunities, measured by educational attainment, English proficiency and a longer duration in the U.S. are associated with a higher probability of being divorced. Those who married prior to migration and who first married at an older age are less likely to be divorced. Those who live in states with a higher divorce rate are more likely to be divorced. Thus, currently being divorced among immigrants is more likely for those who are better positioned in the labor market, less closely connected to their ethnic origins, and among Mexican immigrants who live in an environment in which divorce is more prevalent.

Key Words: Marriage, Divorce, Minorities, Immigrants, Gender, Human Capital

JEL Codes: J12, J15, J16, J24

Negative Shocks and Mass Persecutions: Evidence from the Black Death

March 2017

by Remi Jedwab (George Washington University), Mark Koyama (George Mason University) & Noel Johnson (George Mason University)

IIEP Working Paper 2017-4

The authors of this paper examine the Black Death persecutions committed against the Jewish people to demonstrate the factors that determine when a minority group will face persecution. A theoretical framework is developed that predicts that there is an increased probability that minorities are scapegoated and persecuted when negative shocks occur. However, if the shocks become more severe, the probability of persecution may decrease when economic complementarities exist between the majority and minority groups. To accomplish this, the authors gathered data on a city-level on Black Death mortality and Jewish persecution. An aggregate level showed that scapegoating led to an increase in the baseline probability of persecution. On the city-level, high plague mortality rates did not align with increased persecutions. Persecutions were found to be more likely in cities with a history of antisemitism and less likely in locations where Jews were featured in important economic roles.

The Black Death had wide-ranging social effects, and historians and economists often look to the Black Death as a direct cause of scapegoating and persecution of Jewish communities. The authors contradict this view using city-level Black Death mortality rates and Jewish persecution, demonstrating that the higher the mortality in a city, the less likely persecution would occur. This was accentuated in cities where Jews played important economic roles. They show that, while the Black Death shock was the initial impetus for antisemitic persecution in Europe, it was mainly patterns of differences in economic standing between minority and majority groups that explain local variation in persecution.

Their work contributes to several literatures, such as recent work on the economics of mass killings. They also add to literature on the relationship between shocks and the persecution of minorities, which emphasizes the role played by economic complementarities between groups, and literature on antisemitism. Their study provides a unique perspective, as well, as the Black Death provides a very well suited setting to examine the causes of mass killings.

In their framework, negative shocks can increase both the incentive to persecute a minority and to raise that minority’s economic value. The authors conclude that the decision to persecute the minority is dependent upon how the intensity of the shock interacts with the benefit one gains from persecution and the economic benefits gained from the presence of the minority. While their research suggested there are underlying biases against minorities, it also demonstrated that complementary economic activities between minority groups and majority groups could reduce inter-group aggression.

How Sustainable Are Benefits from Extension for Smallholder Farmers? Evidence from a Randomised Phase-Out of the BRAC Program in Uganda

January 2017

by Stephen C. Smith (George Washington University), Vida Bobić (George Washington University), Ram Fishman (Tel Aviv University), & Munshi Sulaiman (Save the Children)

IIEP Working Paper 2017-1

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