Class Notes: Minimum wage and children’s health, college regrades, and more

People walk on the esplanade of La Defense, in the financial and business district, west of Paris, France, October 6, 2017. REUTERS/Charles Platiau - RC1B9BB86D30
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This week in Class Notes:

Ask and you shall receive? Gender differences in regrades in college

Women are less likely to ask for promotions and salary increases. This has been considered one explanation for gender differences in labor market outcomes. In this study, Li et al. investigate whether this tendency promotes differential outcomes among individuals prior to labor-market entry. Specifically, the authors examine whether women’s reduced tendency to ask explains why male students are approximately 20% more likely than female students to receive favorable grade changes in college. Using survey data and an incentivized laboratory experiment, the authors find that regrade requests are common and that male students are, in fact, more likely than female students to ask for regrades. Almost half of the gender difference in willingness to ask is found to be due to gender differences in confidence, uncertain beliefs about ability, and the Big Five personality traits.

Effects of the minimum wage on child health

By affecting a household’s income and labor supply, changes in the minimum wage may have far-reaching consequences, with one of the most important being the effect on child development. In this paper, Wehby et al. examine the effects of the minimum wage on child health. The authors find that higher minimum wages have significant and large effects on child health. A $1 increase in the minimum wage over a child’s life is associated with an approximately 10% increase in the probability that the child is in excellent health and a 25-40% decrease in missed school days due to illness. Notably, many of the benefits of a higher minimum wage are observed during the first 5 years of life, suggesting that resources during this period are particularly important for children’s health and development.

The employment effects of the Social Security Annual Earnings Test

For older Americans, the Social Security Annual Earnings Test (AET) has a large effect on Social Security Old Age and Survivor Insurance (OASI) benefits and could therefore impact employment rates substantially. In this study, Gelber et al. examine how employment outcomes vary with changes in the perceived incentive to work when earnings are above the AET exempt amount. Their estimates suggest that the AET reduces the employment rate of affected Americans by at least 1.2 percentage points, indicating that the AET is an important factor in the working decisions of older Americans.

Top chart

This week’s top chart shows that approximately 50% of female-dominated occupations in the United States are less than 50% automatable, suggesting that women are more likely to experience partial automation than men:


Choice opinion

“Good news is coming this year, as a new federal reporting requirement comes into effect, mandating all states to publicly report how much each school spends per pupil…The idea was to make often murky budgeting decisions transparent and prompt local conversations about how school boards and superintendents can better allocate resources. Yet only about half of them have released the reports so far. In most of those states, school boards and superintendents aren’t yet feeling any pressure to make changes, and the data sets aren’t prompting many local news stories…We are in the midst of a major missed opportunity. All 50 states — particularly the progressive ones that have talked a big game about recommitting to public schools — should think of this as more than a compliance exercise: It’s an opportunity to prompt new, meaningful debates about educational equity” writes Amy Amerikaner in the New York Times.

Self-promotion: Valentine’s Day edition

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, many of us are thinking about fun ways to celebrate with our partners. However, we should also take this time to reflect on the federal regulations that have allowed us to enjoy those celebrations safely. In their piece, Isabelle Sawhill and Eleanor Krause describe how the Affordable Care Act’s contraceptive coverage has expanded access to millions of women — and the dangers of its repeal. As they write: “Valentine’s Day is all about love, and love without regrets means ensuring access to affordable, effective contraception.”