The role of social referrals in employment
Geocoded cellphone data from a Chinese telecommunications provider reveal the role of social referrals in employment, with higher impacts in settings with greater information asymmetries.
This paper uses the universe of cellphone records from a Chinese telecommunication provider for a northern Chinese city to examine the role of information exchange in urban labor markets. We provide the first direct evidence of increased communication among referral pairs around job changes. Information provided by social contacts mitigates information asymmetry and improves labor market performance.
The gender gap in climate policy preferences
A new cross-national survey finds that men in the wealthiest countries associate climate mitigation policies with higher costs than do women, but finds no gender gap in lower-income countries.
Gender differences in concern about climate change are highly correlated with economic development: when countries are wealthier, a gap emerges whereby women are more likely than men to express concern about our changing climate. These differences stem from cross-national variation in men’s attitudes. Men, more than women, tend to be less concerned about climate change when countries are wealthier. This article develops a new theory about the perceived costs and benefits of climate mitigation policy to explain this pattern. At the country level, the perceived benefits of mitigation tend to decrease with economic development, whereas the perceived costs increase. At the individual level, the perceived costs of mitigation tend to increase with economic development for men more than for women. Evidence from existing surveys from every world region, an original 10-country survey in the Americas and Europe, and focus groups in Peru and the United States support the theory.
Firms with highly-rated work environments hire fewer Black employees
Reviews from Indeed.com and firm-level data indicate that Black employees are underrepresented at highly-rated firms, particularly in areas with more conservative racial attitudes and more prevalent workplace racial discrimination.
This article explores racial stratification in work environments. Inequality scholars have long identified racial disparities in wage and occupational attainment, but workers’ careers and well-being are also shaped by elements of their work environment, including firm culture, managerial style, and work-life balance. I theorize two processes that could lead to racial inequality in firms’ work environments: (1) employee sorting due to exclusionary practices, and (2) spillover from racial differences in occupation and geographic location. To test this, I gathered a unique firm-level dataset composed of one million employee reviews, covering most large and medium-sized firms in the United States. I show that firms with more Black employees score lower for managerial quality, firm culture, and work-life balance, and firms with more Asian employees score higher on these dimensions. However, Asian employees’ advantage disappears when controlling for occupation, industry, and geography, whereas Black employees’ disadvantage persists, suggesting that the process of firm-level employee sorting is at work. Consistent with this, I find that Black employees’ disadvantage is strongest in areas with more conservative racial attitudes and more prevalent workplace racial discrimination. I then replicated the main findings using two entirely different data sources. Together, these results underscore racial inequality in work environments, an overlooked but important dimension of workplace inequality.
New interpolation method used to estimate income segregation in the US
A latent density approach to interpolation improves on previous methods by accounting for uncertainty of model inputs, allowing researchers to construct income segregation indices from ACS tract-level distributions.
The presence of income inequality is an important problem to demographers, policy makers, economists, and social scientists. A causal link has been hypothesized between income inequality and income segregation, which measures how much households with similar incomes cluster. The information theory index is used to measure income segregation, however, critics have suggested the divergence index instead. Motivated by this, we construct both indices using American Community Survey (ACS) estimates of features of the income distribution. Since the elimination of the decennial census long form, methods of computing these indices must be updated to interpolate ACS estimates and account for survey error. We propose a novel model-based method to do this which improves on previous approaches by using more types of estimates, and by providing uncertainty quantification. We apply this method to estimate U.S. census tract-level income distributions, and in turn use these to construct both income segregation indices. We find major differences between the two indices and find evidence that the information index underestimates the relationship between income inequality and income segregation. The literature suggests interventions designed to reduce income inequality by reducing income segregation, or vice versa, so using the information index implicitly understates the value of these interventions. Supplementary materials for this article, including a standardized description of the materials available for reproducing the work, are available as an online supplement.
West African women challenge gender norms through “tactical strangerhood”
Women working as foreign traders in Dakar use their status as strangers to their economic advantage.
Mande women in West Africa unable or unwilling to conform to patriarchal gender expectations risk being evicted from social and kinship support structures. Some nonconformist women from Mali respond to this predicament by engaging in tactical strangerhood: they choose to remain on the social margins, capitalizing on their situation as strangers by working as foreign traders in Dakar (Senegal). Tactical strangerhood entails only partial inclusion into patriarchal family and social structures and constitutes one of the nonconformist ways in which women in West Africa enact gender roles. Long-distance trade and travel by Mande women have led to new forms of gendered strangerhood, challenging—and potentially transforming—dominant ideologies of gender differentiation in this part of West Africa. By engaging in tactical strangerhood, women develop new forms of gendered subjectivity. Tactical strangerhood can therefore be considered an implicitly feminist and emancipatory exercise.
Hay fueled US industrialization
A new analysis counters the King Cotton narrative and reveals that hay was just as valuable as cotton and wheat in the nineteenth-century US.
Hay was a linchpin of the early industrial energy regime. It was the primary fodder for working horses, who became more rather than less important over the 1800s. Though largely ignored by historians, hay was of comparable value to cotton and wheat in the nineteenth-century United States. The crop’s historiographical invisibility is partly due to its relatively informal and decidedly subglobal production and exchange patterns. Whereas cotton and wheat exports passed through customhouses and institutionalized exchanges that carefully recorded trade volumes, hay was almost never exported and often underwent no market transaction at all, instead being used as an intermediate good on farms. Only when the US federal government added a detailed agricultural census in 1850 did the magnitude and importance of hay production become publicly legible. At that point, hay was drafted into a wide-ranging debate about economic development between Northern antislavery nationalists and Southern proslavery free traders, with “King Hay” emerging as a foil for “King Cotton.” King Hay thus urges historians to pay more attention to the trade patterns, developmental policies, and economic ideologies that generated distinctly national, as opposed to global, economic spaces within nineteenth-century capitalism.
Middle-income adults are at lowest risk for depression
A meta-analysis suggests that income is quadratically associated with depressive symptoms, especially among middle-aged adults and White individuals.
Socioeconomic status (SES) is a widely researched construct in developmental science, yet less is known concerning relations between SES and adaptive behavior. Specifically, is the relation linear, with higher SES associated with better outcomes, or does the direction of association change at different levels of SES? Our aim was to examine linear (“more is better”) and quadratic (“better near the middle”) associations between components of SES (i.e., income, years of education, occupational status/prestige) and depressive symptoms (Center for Epidemiologic Studies–Depression Scale), and to explore moderation by developmental period (adolescence, young, middle, and older adulthood), gender/sex (female, male), and race/ethnicity (Asian American, Black, Latinx, multiracial, Native American, White). We hypothesized that there would be more support for a model containing quadratic associations. We conducted a two-stage meta-analytic structural equation model of 60 data sets (27,242 correlations, 498,179 participants) within the United States, accounting for dependencies between correlations, which were identified via the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research and handled using a two-step approach. Income was quadratically associated with depressive symptoms, but the quadratic model did not explain more variance in depressive symptoms than the linear model. Developmental period and race/ethnicity moderated the associations: Income was quadratically associated with depressive symptoms among middle-aged adults, and years of education were quadratically associated with depressive symptoms among White samples. Our findings suggest that researchers and clinical practitioners should consider the elevated risk of depressive symptoms for individuals from low and high-income backgrounds in the United States.