IRP Discussion Paper Abstracts - 2006

Notes: Abstracts are plain text. Downloadable papers are in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format.
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Labor Market Experiences and Transitions to Adulthood
Carolyn J. Hill and Harry J. Holzer

Full Text: DP 1319-06

This paper analyzes labor market behaviors of young adults, their changing patterns among two cohorts that are twenty years apart, and their associations with transitions to adulthood as measured by living with parents, being married, or cohabiting. We analyze these issues using data from the 1979 and 1997 cohorts of he National Longitudinal Survey of Youth (NLSY), specifically focusing on young people ages 20-22 in 1984 and 2002. Consistent with data from other sources, we find that youth in the later cohort tend to live at home or cohabit with greater frequency, but to marry less frequently, than those in the earlier cohort. These findings can be observed among youth in all education/enrollment groups and all race/gender groups. Regression analyses show evidence of some link between contemporaneous labor market outcomes and living arrangements, but these effects are too small to account for changes over time in these behaviors. We also find some relationships between academic and labor market outcomes as well as risky behaviors of youth during high school, on the one hand, and later labor market outcomes and living arrangements, on the other. These suggest the presence of unmeasured characteristics (such as independence, maturity, and the like) that help to account for differences across individuals in their living arrangements as young adults.

REDLINING OR RISK? A Spatial Analysis of Auto Insurance Rates in Los Angeles
Paul M. Ong and Michael A. Stoll

Full Text: DP 1318-06

Auto insurance rates can vary dramatically; premiums are often much higher in poor and minority areas than elsewhere, even after accounting for individual characteristics, driving history, and coverage. This paper uses a unique data set to examine the relative influence of place-based socioeconomic (SES) characteristics (or "redlining") and place-based risk factors on the place-based component of automobile insurance premiums. We use a novel approach of combining tract-level census data and car insurance rate quotes from multiple companies for subareas within the city of Los Angeles. The quotes are for an individual with identical demographic and auto characteristics, driving records, and insurance coverage. This method allows the individual demographic and driving record to be fixed. Multivariate models are then used to estimate the independent contributions of these risk and redlining factors to the place-based component of the car insurance premium. We find that both risk and redlining factors are associated with variations in insurance costs in the place-based component: black and poor neighborhoods are adversely affected, although risk factors are stronger predictors. However, even after risk factors are taken into account in the model specification, SES factors remain statistically significant. Moreover, simulations show that redlining factors explain more of the gap in auto insurance premiums between black (and Latino) and white neighborhoods and between poor and nonpoor neighborhoods.

Local-Level Predictors of Household Food Insecurity
Judi Bartfeld and Lingling Wang

Full Text: (For copies of this paper, please contact the author Judi Bartfeld)

Food security-the assured access of all people to enough food for a healthy and active life-is the focus of considerable policy and research attention. This paper examines the relationship between both household and contextual characteristics and food security among households with elementary school children in Wisconsin, using new data from a self-administered survey sent home to parents. We find that food insecurity is linked to an array of household characteristics that are consistent with findings from existing research, thus providing external validation of the self-administered measure. We also find that a broad array of local attributes, related to housing costs, transportation, retail food outlets, and strength of the local labor market, have significant and in some cases large impacts on food security. Overall, results lend strong support to the view that food insecurity results from a complex interplay among personal resources, public resources, and the economic and social contexts in which a household resides.

Why Did the Food Stamp Caseload Decline (and Rise)? Effects of Policies and the Economy
Caroline Danielson and Jacob Alex Klerman

Full Text: DP 1316-06

The Food Stamp Program (FSP) is intended to help low-income households afford a nutritionally adequate diet. Since 1990, the FSP caseload has varied widely-rising sharply in the early 1990s, dropping sharply in the late 1990s, and then rising again in the early 2000s. Welfare and food stamp policy changes, as well as the changing economic climate, are plausible candidates for explaining the path of the caseload over time. We estimate the effect of these three factors on the total caseload and on two of its components: persons in households combining cash assistance with food stamps, and persons in households where some or all are not receiving cash assistance. We find that welfare reform and the improving economy explain all of the FSP caseload decline during the late 1990s, and that policies aimed at increasing access to the FSP and the weakening economy explain about half of the FSP caseload increase in the early 2000s. Results analyzing the disaggregated caseloads are not as clear-cut, apparently because of measurement issues during the period when Temporary Assistance for Needy Families programs were implemented.

Dynamics of Material Hardship in the Women's Employment Study
Colleen M. Heflin

Full Text: DP 1315-06

There is an abundance of literature examining dynamics and durations of poverty, but little research has examined the dynamics of specific forms of material hardship. This paper addresses the following research questions: Within a welfare sample, how common are experiences of material hardship over time? Are some forms of material hardship more common than others? Do women experience multiple hardships? I analyze data from five waves of the Women's Employment Study on six different forms of material hardship (food insufficiency, telephone disconnection, utility disconnection, unmet medical needs, improper winter clothing, and housing problems). I find that although the cross-sectional reports of material hardship were comparable to those found in other studies, the level of women ever reporting each form of hardship was substantially higher. Furthermore, women were likely to experience multiple forms of hardship over the observation period, suggesting that overall quality of life within these households was quite low at some point(s) during the transition from welfare to work.

Affirmative Action: What Do We Know?
Harry J. Holzer and David Neumark

Full Text: DP 1314-06

In this paper we review the research evidence on the effects of affirmative action in employment, university admissions, and government procurement. We consider effects on both equity (or distribution) as well as efficiency. Overall, we find that affirmative action does redistribute jobs, university admissions, and government contracts away from white males toward minorities and females, though the overall magnitudes of these shifts are relatively modest. We also find that affirmative action shifts jobs and university admissions to minorities who have weaker credentials, but there is little solid evidence to date of weaker labor market performance among its beneficiaries. While those students admitted to universities under affirmative action have weaker grades and higher dropout rates than their white counterparts at selective schools, they seem to benefit overall in terms of higher graduation rates and later salaries. Affirmative action also generates positive externalities for minority and low-income communities (in terms of better medical services and labor market contacts), and perhaps for employers and universities as well. More research on a variety of these issues is also clearly needed.