We explore the first period of decline in infant mortality in the U.S. and provide estimates of the independent and combined effects of clean water and effective sewerage systems on infant mortality. Our case is Massachusetts, 1880-1915, when state authorities developed a sewerage and water district for municipalities in the Boston Greater Metropolitan area. We find that the two interventions were complementary and together accounted for approximately 44 percent of the total decline in log infant mortality among treated municipalities during the 35 years considered. Considerable research has documented the importance of clean water interventions for improvement in population health, but there is less evidence on the importance of sewerage systems. Our findings are directly relevant to urbanization in the developing world and suggest that a dual-pronged approach of safe water and sewerage is important to improving infant and early child survival.
We examine whether online learning technologies have led to lower prices in higher education. Using data from the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, we show that online education is concentrated in large for-profit chains and less-selective public institutions. We find that colleges with a higher share of online students charge lower tuition prices. We present evidence of declining real and relative prices for full-time undergraduate online education from 2006 to 2013. Although the pattern of results suggests some hope that online technology can “bend the cost curve” in higher education, the impact of online learning on education quality remains uncertain.
. In: Handbook of Cliometrics. Handbook of Cliometrics. Heidelberg, Germany: Springer Verlag; 2014.Abstract
Human capital is the stock of skills that the labor force possesses. The flow of these skills is forthcoming when the return to investment exceeds the cost (both direct and indirect). Returns to these skills are private in the sense that an individual’s productive capacity increases with more of them. But there are often externalities that increase the productive capacity of others when human capital is increased. This essay discusses these concepts historically and focuses on two major components of human capital: education and training, and health. The institutions that encourage human capital investment are discussed, as is the role of human capital in economic growth. The notion that the study of human capital is inherently historical is emphasized and defended.
. American Economic Review. 2014;104(4):1091-1119.Abstract
The converging roles of men and women are among the grandest advances in society and the economy in the last century. These aspects of the grand gender convergence are figurative chapters in a history of gender roles. But what must the “last” chapter contain for there to be equality in the labor market? The answer may come as a surprise. The solution does not (necessarily) have to involve government intervention and it need not make men more responsible in the home (although that wouldn’t hurt). But it must involve changes in the labor market, in particular how jobs are structured and remunerated to enhance temporal flexibility. The gender gap in pay would be considerably reduced and might vanish altogether if firms did not have an incentive to disproportionately reward individuals who labored long hours and worked particular hours. Such change has taken off in various sectors, such as technology, science and health, but is less apparent in the corporate, financial and legal worlds.
Occupations are segregated by sex today, but were far more segregated in the early to mid-twentieth century. It is difficult to rationalize sex segregation and “wage discrimination” on the basis of men’s taste for distance from women in the same way differences between other groups in work and housing have been explained. Rather, this paper constructs a “pollution” theory model of discrimination in which occupations are defined by the level of a single-dimensional productivity characteristic. Because there is asymmetric information regarding the value of the characteristic of an individual woman, a new female hire may reduce the prestige of a previously all-male occupation. The predictions of the model include that occupations requiring a level of the characteristic above the female median will be segregated by sex and those below the median will be integrated. The historical record reveals numerous cases of the model’s predictions. For example in 1940 the greater is the productivity characteristic of an office and clerical occupation, the higher the occupational segregation by sex. “Credentialization” that spreads information about individual women’s productivities and shatters old stereotypes can help expunge “pollution.”
Pharmacy has become a female-majority profession that is highly remunerated with a small gender
earnings gap and low earnings dispersion relative to other occupations. We sketch a labor market
framework based on the theory of equalizing differences to integrate and interpret our empirical findings
on earnings, hours of work, and the part-time work wage penalty for pharmacists. Using extensive
surveys of pharmacists for 2000, 2004, and 2009 as well as samples from the American Community
Surveys and the Current Population Surveys, we explore the gender earnings gap, the penalty to part-time
work, labor force persistence, and the demographics of pharmacists relative to other college graduates.
We address why the substantial entrance of women into the profession was associated with an increase
in their earnings relative to male pharmacists. We conclude that the changing nature of pharmacy
employment with the growth of large national pharmacy chains and hospitals and the related decline
of independent pharmacies played key roles in the creation of a more family-friendly, female-friendly
pharmacy profession. The position of pharmacist is probably the most egalitarian of all U.S. professions