Boosting the efficiency of household production
could have large economic effects
The time household members in industrialized
countries spend on housework and shopping is substantial, amounting to about
half as much as is spent on paid employment. Women bear the brunt of this
burden, driven in part by the gender wage differential. Efforts to reduce
the gender wage gap and alter gendered norms of behavior should reduce the
gender bias in household production time and reduce inefficiency in home
production. Policymakers should also note the impact of tax policy on
housework time and its market substitutes, and consider ways to reduce the
distortions caused by sales and income taxes.
Better educated parents invest more time and
money in their children, who are more successful in the labor market
Governments invest a lot of money in education,
so it is important to understand the benefits of this spending. One
essential aspect is that education can potentially make people better
parents and thus improve the educational and employment outcomes of their
children. Interventions that encourage the educational attainment of
children from poorer families will reduce inequality in current and future
generations. In addition to purely formal education, much less expensive
interventions to improve parenting skills, such as parental involvement
programs in schools, may also improve child development.
Public education tends to crowd out parents’
time and money, but careful policy design may mitigate this
Many countries around the world are making
substantial and increasing public investments in children by providing
resources for schooling from early years through to adolescence. Recent
research has looked at how parents respond to children’s schooling
opportunities, highlighting that public inputs can alternatively encourage
or crowd out parental inputs. Most evidence finds that parents reduce their
own efforts as schooling improves, dampening the efficiency of government
expenditure. Policymakers may thus want to focus government provision on
schooling inputs that are less easily substituted.
Measures of intergenerational persistence can be
indicative of equality of opportunity, but the relationship is not
A strong association between incomes across
generations—with children from poor families likely to be poor as adults—is
frequently considered an indicator of insufficient equality of opportunity.
Studies of such “intergenerational persistence,” or lack of
intergenerational mobility, measure the strength of the relationship between
parents’ socio-economic status and that of their children as adults.
However, the association between equality of opportunity and common measures
of intergenerational persistence is not as clear-cut as is often assumed. To
aid interpretation researchers often compare measures across time and space
but must recognize that reliable measurement requires overcoming important
data and methodological difficulties.
A mix of policies could be the solution to
reducing discrimination in the labor market
Discrimination is a complex, multi-factor
phenomenon. Evidence shows widespread discrimination on various grounds,
including ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion or
beliefs, disability, being over 55 years old, or being a woman. Combating
discrimination requires combining the strengths of a range of
anti-discrimination policies while also addressing their weaknesses. In
particular, policymakers should thoroughly address prejudice (taste-based
discrimination), stereotypes (statistical discrimination), cognitive biases,
and attention-based discrimination.
This is a revision, version 3.
This is a revision, version 3. Most OECD countries spend substantially more on maternity leave
schemes than on early childcare. However, given high tax burdens and rapidly aging
populations, female labor force participation is critically needed. Moreover, it is important
to know whether the main beneficiaries, the children themselves, reap more benefits from one
or the other in the long term. The first cohorts exposed to the introduction or extension of
maternity/paternity leave schemes and subsidized childcare programs have now completed
education and entered the labor market, allowing an investigation of these programs’ long-term
Knowing the real cost of children is important
for crafting better
The cost of children is a critical parameter
used in determining many economic policies. For instance, correctly setting
the tax deduction for families with children requires assessing the true
household cost of children. Evaluating child poverty at the individual level
requires making a clear distinction between the share of family resources
received by children and that received by parents. The standard ad hoc
measures (equivalence scales) used in official publications to measure the
cost of children are arbitrary and are not informed by any economic theory.
However, economists have developed methods that are grounded in economic
theory and can replace ad hoc measures.
A strict policy on fertility effects every
aspect of economic life
The 20th century witnessed the birth of modern
family planning and its effects on the fertility of hundreds of millions of
couples around the world. In 1979, China formally initiated one of the
world’s strictest family planning programs—the “one child policy.” Despite
its obvious significance, the policy has been significantly understudied.
Data limitations and a lack of detailed documentation have hindered
researchers. However, it appears clear that the policy has affected China’s
economy and society in ways that extend well beyond its fertility rate.