How Did Changing Family Size Influence Family Welfare in Historical England?

In order to measure economic development and living standards in the past, economic historians have constructed real wages for many countries. They have generally found that Britain, the Low Countries, and British North America had substantially higher real wages than the rest of the world. One of the assumptions of this methodology, however, is that family size has been constant across time and between countries. This blog post tests that assertion by building a demographic simulation to understand how family size has changed over time in England. I find that, contrary to the claims of some historians, family size was quite low in England and did not change substantially over time. Thus, existing estimates of real wages accurately capture average family welfare at the average point in the family life cycle.

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A Gray Future for the BRICs

In the last twenty years BRIC countries, that is Brazil, Russia, India, and China, have played an increasingly relevant role as engines of global economic growth. From 1993 to 2007 they grew on average by 5.6% per year and by 5.3% from 2008 to 2012, as production contracted or stagnated in developed economies. Their demographic structure, dominated by people in ‘active age’ [1], has undoubtedly played an important role in their success. This advantage, however, is destined to rapidly disappear in the next decades as BRIC countries face the challenge of population aging.

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Less is More When it Comes to Migrant Rights

[This is a revised version of an article originally published at The Conversation http://theconversation.com/less-is-more-when-it-comes-to-migrant-rights-18811.]

Earlier this month, the UN General Assembly debated the global governance of international labour migration. This meeting was particularly timely, following reports of numerous deaths among Nepalese workers on World Cup construction sites in Qatar. But as they gathered in New York, policymakers once again overlooked one of the hardest questions in this debate: how to manage the trade-offs in immigration policy between openness to admitting migrant workers and some of the rights migrants are granted after admission.

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Is Smoking a Positive Fiscal Externality?

In this post, I will examine the question of whether smoking is a positive fiscal externality in the UK. A person’s fiscal contribution is equal to the total taxes she pays minus the total public money that is spent on her during her lifetime. If taking-up smoking leads to an increase in the average person’s fiscal contribution, then smoking is a positive fiscal externality; if taking-up smoking leads to a decrease in her fiscal contribution, then it is a negative externality. Smoking affects a person’s fiscal contribution in a number of ways: it affects her income taxes (via its impact on her productivity in the labour market), it affects her consumption taxes, it affects her healthcare expenses, and it affects her pension contributions and benefits. In addition, it may affect other people’s fiscal contributions via passive smoking.

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