Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Two Ways to Tell the Story

 From Paul Krugman today:

The most famous example is the research that Card conducted along with the late Alan Krueger on the effects of minimum wage. Most economists used to believe that raising the minimum wage reduces employment. But is this true? In 1992 the state of New Jersey increased its minimum wage while neighboring Pennsylvania didn’t. Card and Krueger realized that they could assess the effect of this policy change by comparing employment growth in the two states after the wage hike, essentially using Pennsylvania as the control for New Jersey’s experiment.

What they found was that the increased minimum wage had very little if any negative effect on the number of jobs....

So the empirical revolution in economics undermines the right-leaning conventional wisdom that had dominated discourse.

From David Henderson today:

Messrs. Card and Krueger conducted a famous natural experiment by studying employment at fast-food restaurants in New Jersey and Pennsylvania before and after New Jersey raised the minimum wage while Pennsylvania didn’t. Contrary to what one might expect, employment in New Jersey’s fast-food restaurants rose slightly relative to employment in Pennsylvania’s. On this basis, they challenged standard supply-and-demand models of the effects of minimum wages. Unfortunately, Messrs. Card and Krueger’s data weren’t so great—they gathered it by phoning restaurants.

University of California Irvine economist David Neumark and Federal Reserve economist William L. Wascher, using the restaurants’ payroll data, found what most economists would have expected: The minimum wage increase in New Jersey caused employment to fall in the New Jersey restaurants relative to Pennsylvania restaurants’ employment.

Friday, October 08, 2021

CORE

There is an interesting article in The New Yorker about one of my competitors in the intro textbook market. A notable tidbit:

Jonathan Gruber, who teaches introductory economics at M.I.T., felt that core might introduce too much complexity for a foundational course. He worried that so much emphasis on the ethical and political dimensions of economics might make the subject feel like a different discipline altogether. “The question is, do you want the students to feel like they’re coming out of, you know, to be blunt, a sociology class or an economics class?” Gruber said.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Proposed Changes in the Child Tax Credit

A new paper by Kevin Corinth, Bruce Meyer, Matthew Stadnicki, and Derek Wu finds the following (emphasis added). 

The proposed change under the American Families Plan (AFP) to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA) Child Tax Credit (CTC) would increase maximum benefit amounts to $3,000 or $3,600 per child (up from $2,000 per child) and make the full credit available to all low and middle-income families regardless of earnings or income. We estimate the anti-poverty, targeting, and labor supply effects of the expansion by linking survey data with administrative tax and government program data which form part of the Comprehensive Income Dataset (CID). Initially ignoring any behavioral responses, we estimate that the expansion of the CTC would reduce child poverty by 34% and deep child poverty by 39%. The expansion of the CTC would have a larger anti-poverty effect on children than any existing government program, though at a higher cost per child raised above the poverty line than any other means-tested program. Relatedly, the CTC expansion would allocate a smaller share of its total dollars to families at the bottom of the income distribution—as well as families with the lowest levels of long-term income, education, or health—than any existing means-tested program with the exception of housing assistance. We then simulate anti-poverty effects accounting for labor supply responses. By replacing the TCJA CTC (which contained substantial work incentives akin to the EITC) with a universal basic income-type benefit, the CTC expansion reduces the return to working at all by at least $2,000 per child for most workers with children. Relying on elasticity estimates consistent with mainstream simulation models and the academic literature, we estimate that this change in policy would lead 1.5 million workers (constituting 2.6% of all working parents) to exit the labor force. The decline in employment and the consequent earnings loss would mean that child poverty would only fall by 22% and deep child poverty would not fall at all with the CTC expansion.