Working 9 to 5? Unionization and Work Variability, 2004-2013

Ryan Finnigan and Jo Mhairi Hale

January 8, 2017 

Millions of workers in the United States experience irregular and unpredictable weekly working hours, particularly following the Great Recession. This work variability brings greater economic insecurity and work-life conflict, particularly for low-wage workers. In the absence of strong and widespread policies regulating ‘precarious work,’ labor unions may significantly limit work variability. However, any benefits with union membership could depend crucially on union density, which varies widely between states. This paper analyzes the relationship between unionization and two measures of work variability among hourly workers using data from the 2004 and 2008 panels of the Survey of Income and Program Participation. The results show union members were significantly less likely to report a varying number of hours from week to week, but only in states with relatively high unionization rates. In contrast, union members were more likely to report irregular schedules, but not in states with the highest unionization rates. This paper finds that the monthly earnings penalty for work variability is significantly weaker among union members than non-members. Altogether, the paper’s results demonstrate some of the continued benefits of unionization for workers, and some of its limitations.

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Do State Earned Income Tax Credits Increase Participation in the Federal EITC?

David Neumark and Katherine E. Williams

November 29, 2016

In recent years, many states and some local governments implemented or expanded their own, supplemental Earned Income Tax Credit (EITCs).  The expansion of state EITCs may have stemmed in large part from wanting to provide a more generous program than the federal program, because state EITCs increase transfer payments to the low-income recipients who qualify.  However, state and local governments can also benefit from maximizing participation of their constituents in the federal EITC, and there are several reasons why state or local EITCs could increase participation in the federal EITC program.  We find evidence that state EITCs increase federal EITC program participation.  The effects are qualitatively consistent with what we would expect given theoretical predictions of the effects of an increase in state EITC generosity on labor supply.

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The Effect of State Mandated Sex Education on Sexual Behaviors and Health

Brittany Bass

November 27, 2016

The debate over school based sex education in the United States is centered on two major questions: do schools have a responsibility to teach students about issues related to sex, and if schools do teach sex education, what type of information should be presented? In the mid-1980s, once it was recognized that AIDS could be spread via sexual intercourse, Surgeon General Everett Koop called for increased sex education in schools beginning as early as third grade. Using data from multiple sources, including the Youth Risk Behavioral Surveys, National Vital Statistics, and the CDC’s Wonder statistics on STDs, this study presents the first examination of the effect of state-level sex education mandates on teenage sexual behavior, STDs, and birth rates.

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Marijuana Decriminalization and Labor Market Outcomes

Timothy Young

October 27, 2016

This paper uses marijuana decriminalization laws, passed in 21 states over the last 40 years, to analyze the differences in earnings and employment that result from being arrested. A differences-in-differences model is used to exploit the state-by-year variation in arrests resulting from marijuana decriminalization laws. Data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting statistics and the Current Population Survey allow for age, gender and race specific estimates, which is critical considering the heterogeneity in rates of arrests across these delineations. Labor market outcomes in the CPS allow for an analysis of whether decriminalization laws affect extensive and intensive margins. Decreased penalties for marijuana possession are positively correlated with the probability of employment, although the results are imprecise. Additionally, there are non-trivial increases in weekly earnings for individuals living in states with decreased penalties, with the effects being greatest for black adults. This result is consistent with existing literature that suggests black adults, especially men, stand to benefit the most from removing these penalties.

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