Fall 2016 Events

All events are located at the Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, 2521 Channing Way, Berkeley.

Friday, August 26, 2016 | 8:00am - 6:00pm | IRLE Conference Room

Conference on the Causes of Wage Stagnation

Institute for Research on Labor and Employment / Washington Center for Equitable Growth

Wednesday, August 31, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

The Impact of a Negative Labor Demand Shock on Fertility - Evidence from the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Hannah Liepman, Visiting Scholar, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, September 14, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

Layoff Rules, the Cost of Job Loss, and Asymmetric Employer Learning

Jeff Sorensen, Economics, UC Berkeley

I study how downsizing establishments choose which workers to lay off and how the cost of job loss varies by the type of layoff rule using administrative employer-employee data for West Germany. I estimate establishment-level layoff rules for over 4,400 mass layoffs from 1980 to 2009 and explore how layoff rules have changed over time and the business cycle. The probability of being laid off is decreasing in seniority, wage, age, and (slightly in) education, with most mass layoffs involving a significant level of discretion. Layoff decisions have become more selective and less seniority-based over time, consistent with Germany's decreasing firing costs and collective bargaining coverage. I also find significant business cycle effects: during recessions establishments become less likely to lay off their low-seniority workers and more likely to lay off their workers with low wage residuals. I develop an asymmetric employer learning model with heterogeneous firing costs to explain these findings and and to test whether workers' current employer has superior information about their productivity than outside employers. I show that the cost of job loss for workers should correlate with the level of discretion used in the layoff rule and find evidence for asymmetric employer learning: event studies show that workers who are laid off using seniority layoff rules experience significantly smaller earnings losses, since these layoffs do not serve as a negative signal of workers' productivity. Finally, asymmetric employer learning appears to be more important for workers with low education and workers in high-skilled service occupations.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Friday, September 16, 2016 | 12:00pm | IRLE Conference Room

Fully Digitized Labor Sociology for the Big Screen

Jamie McCallum, IRLE former visiting scholar

In this talk, Jamie McCallum will screen two short films he directed and then offer a talk on related themes, mainly on the history of the work ethic. Both films are quasi-documentaries, one on the decline of worker militancy and the other is a social experiment in which people were hired to dig holes in a field for the day. McCallum situates the discourse of "meaningful work" in an historical context that suggests it has helped to reinforce the growth of even poor "meaningless" jobs.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, Septemer 21, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

(Re-)Locating the Local and National in the Global: Multiscalar Political Alignment in Transnational European Dockworker Union Campaigns

Katy Fox-Hodess, Sociology, UC Berkeley

Labor activists have called for greater international coordination among trade unions in response to the assault on organized labor by global capital, but such coordination faces many hurdles. Under what conditions can unions overcome those barriers and coordinate effectively to achieve campaign goals? I examine this question through a comparison of European-level international solidarity with Portuguese, Greek and English affiliates of the International Dockworkers Council involved in labor disputes. The divergent outcomes of otherwise similar cases reveal the critical role of politics and strategy at different scales and sites of union organization in determining the successful exercise of labor internationalism.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Monday, October 3, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:00pm | IRLE Conference Room

Labor Center Seminar - The State of Labor Movement in Afghanistan, a Volatile Past and a Promising Future

Nangyalai Attal, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley

Read paper »

Nangyalai Attal is one of the United Nations' Youth Courage Awardees, a Development Fellow with the Asia Foundation and a Fulbright Alumnus. He graduated from Kabul Education University, with a bachelor's degree in English Language and Literature, and in M.S. in Human Resources from Golden Gate University in San Francisco. He was a Visiting Student Research at UC Berkeley Institute for Research on Labor and Employment where he wrote a paper on the State of Labor Movement in Afghanistan. He worked for the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Kabul where he assisted the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, the National Union of Afghan Workers, and the Afghan Chamber of Commerce in developing a five-year Decent Work Country Program. Attal is current teaching labor relations and collective bargaining at Swiss UMEF University of Afghanistan and is Afghanistan correspondent for the LabourStart. For his service, Attal was awarded by Hamid Karzai, former president of Afghanistan.

R.S.V.P. Kathleen Parsons, kparsons@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, October 5, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

The Pass-through of Minimum Wages into US Retail Prices: Evidence from Supermarket Scanner Data

Claire Montialoux, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment, UC Berkeley

We study the impact of 160 increases in state-level minimum wages on the dynamics of prices in local grocery stores. We find that the impact of raising minimum wages on prices is small, significant, and occurs in the months following minimum wage legislation and preceding implementation. Our estimates of the minimum wage elasticity of grocery prices lie between 0.03 and 0.05, and are consistent with a full pass-through of cost increases by firms. Our results suggest that the costs of minimum wage increases are borne by consumers, and in the case of grocery stores disproportionally by the poorest households. We also find that minimum wage hikes significantly raise the probability of price increases, consistent with the predictions of state-specific price setting models. We calibrate a simple menu cost model to match the long run features of our data, and find that the model can fit the short-run response to minimum wage increases. 

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, October 12, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

The effects of minimum wages on employment: using a bunching estimator

Arindrjait Dube, UMass Amherst

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, October 19, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

Reference Pricing in the Case of Screening Colonoscopies

Marion Aouad, Economics, UC Berkeley

Rising healthcare costs and methods to contain these costs are of great interest and relevance for private and public agents. We examine one such strategy by analyzing the introduction of a reference-pricing program by a large health insurer. Reference pricing set a maximum reimbursable amount for screening colonoscopies if they were performed at a higher-cost facility, while no max was set for lower-cost facilities. We estimate the cost-savings associated with this program by focusing on the mediating mechanism put in place to achieve this program's goals - promoting facility switching among patients (e.g. encouraging patients to choose lower-cost vs. higher-cost medical facilities). We find that are were large increases in the share of patients using lower cost facilities in response to reference pricing (about 17 percentage points). This analysis also reveals that for those patients induced to switch to lower cost-facilities, large reductions in mean total cost occur. Additionally, for this group, we find that the program substantially increases the probability of total costs being below the reference price threshold by approximately 65%.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, October 26, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

Coordinated leisure and energy policy

Solomon Hsiang, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley

Standard models of labor supply do not account account for the fact that leisure consumed simultaneously across millions of people may be different than its isolated consumption by individuals. We enrich the standard model to account for such "coordinated leisure" and demonstrate a role for the government in selecting from multiple potential coordinated equilibria. Optimal selection of this equilibrium must account for differences in the externalities produced by coordinated leisure relative to labor. Examining grid-scale electricity demand, automobile flow in California, and national passenger-miles-flown, we demonstrate that coordinated leisure, in the form of weekends and holidays, is substantially less energy intensive than uncoordinated periods. We use hour-level analysis of national time-use surveys to demonstrate that these coordinated leisure policies reduce energy demand by triggering substitution away from labor and towards leisure activities, particularly sleep. Because a large fraction of the national population consumes all coordinated leisure up to the federally-prescribed constraint, our results suggest that national welfare can be strictly increased by relaxing that constraint and selecting a new equilibrium where energy demand is lower and coordinated leisure is higher. We compute national energy savings from a variety of coordinated leisure policies. Overall, our results suggest that to fight climate change, society should have more fun.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, November 9, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

Seeing Like a Market

Marion Fourcade, Sociology, UC Berkeley

What do markets see when they look at people? Information dragnets increasingly yield huge quantities of individual-level data, which is analyzed to sort and slot people into categories of taste, riskiness, or worth. Developed to better understand and improve customer experience, these tools also define new strategies of profit making. In this mainly theoretical talk, I will discuss how the facticity of these scoring methods makes them organizational devices with powerful classifying effects, structuring product and price offerings on various markets and patterning life-chances for individuals. I will also suggest that these processes generate a new economy of moral judgment, where rankings outcomes produced through behavioral tracking are increasingly experienced as morally deserved positions.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, November 16, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

Expansion or Diversion? New Universities and Enrollment Choices in California

Patrick Lapid, Economics, UC Berkeley

Do non-tuition costs constrain college access? From 1995 to 2005, four new public universities in California began admitting first-year students. I exploit these new campus openings to test if relaxing distance cost constraints will increase four-year college enrollment among local high school graduates. I show that distance is still influential in the first-time enrollment of recent high school graduates; the majority of enrollees in public four-year colleges stay within 50 miles of home, with approximately 40 percent enrolled only 25 miles away from their high school of origin. Using event study and difference-in-difference models, I find that new university openings increase four-year enrollment among recent high school graduates from treated schools within 0 to 25 miles of the new campus; the estimated share of high school graduates enrolling in any public four-year college rises by 1.6 percentage points, an increase of over 8 percent in the mean four-year college attendance share. Three-quarters of this increase is driven by local students attending the new universities; enrollment to existing campuses from local high schools is unaffected. Students from treated schools without an existing public university within 25 miles are more likely to attend the new university when it opens, but there are no other significant differences in enrollment outcomes to new campuses between richer and poorer schools, nor between under-represented minority (URM) and White/Asian students at the same schools. My findings support the view that cost-of-living constraints are binding for many prospective college students.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, November 30, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

The Effect of the EITC in the District of Columbia on Poverty and Income

Bradley Hardy, School of Public Affaris, American University

Using unique longitudinal administrative tax panel data for the District of Columbia (DC), we assess the combined effect of the DC supplemental earned income tax credit (EITC) and the federal EITC on poverty and income within Washington, DC from 2001 to 2013. The EITC in DC merits investigation, as the DC supplement to the federal credit is the largest in the nation. The supplemental DC EITC was enacted in 2000, and has been expanded from 10 percent of the federal credit in 2001 to 40 percent as of 2009. To implement the study, we estimate least squares models with 0/1 dependent variables to estimate the likelihood of net-EITC income above poverty and near-poverty thresholds. We also estimate the likelihood of income growth from the EITC. To identify the effect of the EITC, we exploit time series variation in the city-wide EITC as well as a federal EITC subsidy rate changes from 2008 to 2009. The structure and richness of our data enable us to control for tax filer fixed effects, an important innovation from many previous EITC studies. Overall, we find that the combined EITC raises the likelihood of net-EITC income above poverty and near poverty, with the largest consistent effects accruing to single-parent families.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 | 12:00pm - 1:30pm | IRLE Conference Room

The State of the Early Childhood Educator Workforce: Misaligned Expectations, Earnings and Policies

Marcy Whitebook & Lea Austin, Center for the Study of Child Care Employment, UC Berkeley

Early educators are among the lowest-paid workers in the country, yet the work they do is critically important for children, families, and the economy. The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment (CSCCE) at IRLE recently released the inaugural edition of a biennial report on the early care and education workforce: The Early Childhood Workforce Index. The report represents the first effort to establish a baseline description of early childhood employment conditions and policies in every state. Based on a series of measurable indicators, the report provides states with overall appraisals of their efforts to address persistent challenges facing the early childhood workforce, including policies such as minimum wage and paid family leave legislation. Co-authors Marcy Whitebook, Caitlin McLean, and Lea Austin will discuss key findings of the report and its implications for policy.

R.S.V.P. Margaret Olney, margaret_olney@berkeley.edu