The career prospects of overeducated Americans
Brian Clark, Clement Joubert, Arnaud Maurel 16 November 2014
There are large rewards of higher education in terms of earnings. However, a sizeable fraction of workers hold occupations that not require as much schooling as they have. This column considers the effects of being overeducated on future employment and wages for a representative cohort of Americans. Around 38% of the college graduates in the sample have higher education than the typical worker in their profession. Rather than transitory, the bulk of overeducation persists in the long run. Even if workers manage to transit to better jobs, they experience wage penalties similar to those after unemployment.
Americans had accumulated more than 1 trillion dollars in student loan debt as of 31 December, 2013. While the press conveyed widespread concern over this number, it might be that efficient credit markets are allowing more individuals to invest in education, with large rewards in terms of future earnings. After all, young college graduates earned 62.5% more on average than high school graduates in 2013 (Taylor et al. 2014). However, researchers have started paying more attention to the fact that the huge average ‘college wage premium’ masks large differences in post-college earnings.
Education Labour markets
overeducation, unemployment, underemployment, US
TTIP is about regulatory coherence
Lionel Fontagné, Sébastien Jean 16 November 2014
The TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) has become a full-blown political issue as the two largest economic entities in the world are negotiating a deep integration agreement, going beyond what has been done previously in any agreement except the EU’s Single Market. This column estimates that a phasing-out of tariffs accompanied by a 25% cut in the trade restrictiveness of non-tariff measures would increase trade in goods and services between the two regions by 50%.
The TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations have become a full-blown political issue. This is understandable. The two largest economic entities in the world – already highly integrated – are negotiating a deep integration agreement, going beyond what has been done previously in any agreement except the EU’s Single Market programme. This makes TTIP different. Can economists say anything about the likely economic impact of such an agreement?
TTIP, US, EU, trade agreements
Influencing household inflation expectations
Alberto Cavallo, Guillermo Crucas, Ricardo Perez-Truglia 10 November 2014
Although central banks have a natural desire to influence household inflation expectations, there is no consensus on how these expectations are formed or the best ways to influence them. This column presents evidence from a series of survey experiments conducted in a low-inflation context (the US) and a high-inflation context (Argentina). The authors find that dispersion in household expectations can be explained by the cost of acquiring and interpreting inflation statistics, and by the use of inaccurate memories about price changes of specific products. They also provide recommendations for central bank communication strategies.
Expectations about macroeconomic variables play an important role in economic theory and policymaking. Household inflation expectations, in particular, are key to understand consumption and investment decisions, and ultimately, the impact of monetary policies. Although central banks have a natural desire to influence expectations, there is no consensus on how household expectations are formed or what the best way to affect them is (see Bernanke 2007, Bachmann et al. 2012, Coibion and Gorodnichenko 2013, and Armantier et al. 2014).
expectations, beliefs, inflation, inflation expectations, monetary policy, US, Argentina, central bank communication, rational inattention, costly information, learning
The impact of the maturity of US government debt on forward rates and the term premium: New results from old data
Jagjit Chadha 02 November 2014
The impact of the stock and maturity of government debt on longer-term bond yields matters for monetary policy. This column assesses the magnitude and relative importance of overall bond supply and maturity effects on longer-term US Treasury interest rates using data from 1976 to 2008. Both factors have a significant impact on both forwards and term premia, but maturity of public debt appears to matter more. The results have implications for exit from unconventional policies, and also for the links between monetary and fiscal policy and debt management.
Revisiting the supply effect
The question of the impact of the stock and maturity of net government debt on longer-term US Treasury yields, and the potential implications for central bank balance sheet policies, matters for monetary policy.
Financial markets Macroeconomic policy Monetary policy
public debt, yield curve, debt maturity, term premia, interest rates, open market operations, monetary policy, QE, US, Federal Reserve, market segmentation, Greenspan Conundrum, debt management, fiscal policy, unconventional monetary policy
Macroeconomic policy mix in the transatlantic economy
Moreno Bertoldi, Philip R. Lane, Valérie Rouxel-Laxton, Paolo Pesenti 24 October 2014
The reason for the divergent macroeconomic policies on the two sides of the Atlantic after the Crisis remains a hotly debated subject. The topic was also discussed at the recent “Macroeconomic Policy Mix in the Transatlantic Economy” workshop. This column summarises the main discussions at the workshop. Other covered topics included secular stagnation, the output effects of fiscal consolidation, cross-border banking (as a source and propagator of shocks), and the asset-market effects of unconventional monetary policies.
The reason why the macroeconomic policy mix has been different on the two sides of the Atlantic in recent years remains a hotly debated issue. Was it due to a different reading of the root causes of the Global Crisis and, therefore, of the type of policy response considered most appropriate?
Global crisis Macroeconomic policy
eurozone, US, macroeconomic policy, transatlantic economy, global crisis
Innocent bystanders? Monetary policy and inequality in the US
Olivier Coibion, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Lorenz Kueng, John Silvia 25 October 2014
There are several conflicting channels through which monetary policy could affect the distribution of wealth, income, and consumption. This column argues that contractionary monetary policy raised inequality in the US, while expansionary monetary policy lowered it. This evidence stresses the need for monetary policy models that take into account heterogeneity across households. Current monetary policy models may significantly understate the welfare costs of zero-bound episodes.
“In recent decades, the Fed has given way completely, at the highest level and with disastrous consequences, when the bankers bring their influence to bear… As the American economy begins to improve, influential people in the financial sector will continue to talk about the need for a prolonged period of low interest rates. The Fed will listen. This time will not be different.” Acemoglu and Johnson (2012)
Monetary policy Poverty and income inequality
US, monetary policy shocks, income inequality, consumption, household heterogeneity
Maximising happiness does not maximise welfare
Edward Glaeser, Joshua Gottlieb, Oren Ziv 15 October 2014
Governments are now measuring happiness, or subjective wellbeing, and some have begun trying to maximise it. This column discusses recent research showing that happiness is not the same thing as utility. The choices people make suggest that they have desires and objectives other than happiness. It is therefore possible to make people worse off while increasing their reported subjective wellbeing.
Recent interest in the psychology and economics of happiness has had pronounced influence on public policy. The high-profile report by Stiglitz et al. (2009) epitomises a push for policies to explicitly promote increases in survey measures of wellbeing as a major social objective. Places ranging from the country of Bhutan to the city of Somerville, Massachusetts explicitly measure happiness, or subjective wellbeing, and strive for improvements over time in such measures.
Frontiers of economic research
happiness, welfare, cities, Rust Belt, US
Americans work too long (and too often at strange times)
Daniel S. Hamermesh, Elena Stancanelli 29 September 2014
American employees put in longer workweeks than Europeans. They are also more likely to work at undesirable times, such as nights and weekends. This column argues that the phenomena of long hours and strange hours are related. One possibility for this is cultural – Americans simply enjoy working at strange times. Another, more probable explanation, is the greater inequality of earnings of low-skilled workers in the US, compared to Europeans.
The facts on work hours and timing
The average US workweek is 41 hours, 3 hours longer than Britain’s and even longer than in Germany, France, Spain, or the Netherlands (see the Table below).
work hours, night work, weekend work, US, Europe
Cross-country differences in perceptions of inequality
Judith Niehues 28 September 2014
Income inequality is high in the US, but the support of social welfare programmes is low. In Europe, income inequality is low and the welfare states are generous. This column argues that this paradox is largely due to perceived inequality. Many Europeans believe that there is high inequality in their countries, justifying the need for redistributive policies. Americans, however, are less concerned with income differences and with respective redistributive state intervention.
The well-known and frequently tested median voter theorem predicts a positive relationship between income inequality and state redistribution; if the decisive median voter’s income is below the social average, he votes for more welfare redistribution because he expects to benefit from progressively financed welfare programmes. However, this theory does not perform very well when confronted with data. Although income inequality is high in the US, support for welfare state programmes is relatively low. In contrast, income differences in European countries are substantially lower.
Poverty and income inequality Welfare state and social Europe
income inequality, perceived income inequality, Europe, US
The rise of China and the future of US manufacturing
Daron Acemoglu, David Autor, David Dorn, Gordon H. Hanson, Brendan Price 28 September 2014
Manufacturing in the US has rebounded after the Great Recession, but employment levels have not recovered from their steep decline in the decade before the recession. This column examines to what extent the sector’s fall is a result of the rise of China. The authors estimate direct effects of import competition from China, as well as labour market and buyer-seller indirect effects that operate at the local level. China’s impact has been strong, and employment in US manufacturing is unlikely to recover.
The end of the Great Recession has rekindled optimism about the future of US manufacturing. In the second quarter of 2010 the number of US workers employed in manufacturing registered positive growth – its first increase since 2006 – and subsequently recorded ten consecutive quarters of job gains, the longest expansion since the 1970s.
manufacturing, US, China, value added