Wednesday, August 6, 2008

New research from the Economic Journal (June 2008)

The recent issue of the Economic Journal has some interesting articles on the effects of regulation on individual behaviors.

First, Sandra Black, Paul Devereux and Kjell Salvanes find that compulsory schooling laws reduce the rate of teenage childbearing. From their abstract:

This article investigates whether increasing mandatory educational attainment through compulsory schooling legislation encourages women to delay childbearing. We use variation induced by changes in compulsory schooling laws in both the US and Norway to estimate the effect in two very different institutional environments. We find evidence that increased compulsory schooling does in fact reduce the incidence of teenage childbearing in both the US and Norway, and these estimates are quite robust to various specification checks. These results suggest that legislation aimed at improving educational outcomes may have spillover effects onto the fertility decisions of teenagers.
Secondly, Thomas Dee finds that the legalization of same-sex marriages helps reduce the incidence of certain sexually transmitted diseases. From his abstract:

One conjectured benefit of a marriage-like legal status for same-sex couples is a reduction in the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STI). In this study, I discuss how such a policy might influence risky sexual behaviour and STI rates. I also present reduced-form empirical evidence on whether same-sex partnership laws have reduced STI rates, using country-level panel data from Europe. The results suggest that these laws led to statistically significant reductions in syphilis but not in infections that are not sexually transmitted. However, their effects on the incidence of gonorrhoea and HIV were also smaller and statistically imprecise.

In the same issue, there are still some unanswered questions about the gender pay gap. From Alan Manning and Joanna Swaffield's abstract:

In the UK the gender pay gap on entry to the labour market is approximately zero but ten years after labour market entry, there is a gender wage gap of almost 25 log points. This article explores the reason for this gender gap in early-career wage growth, considering three main hypotheses – human capital, job-shopping and 'psychological' theories. Human capital factors can explain about 11 log points, job-shopping about 1.5 log points and the psychological theories up to 4.5 log points depending on the specification. But a substantial unexplained gap remains: women who have continuous full-time employment, have had no children and express no desire to have them earn about 8 log points less than equivalent men after 10 years in the labour market.

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