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Essays in labor economics

Lembcke, Alexander (2012) Essays in labor economics. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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My thesis combines three distinct papers in labor economics. The first chapter is a collaborative work with Bernd Fitzenberger and Karsten Kohn. In this chapter we scrutinize the effects of union density and of collective bargaining coverage on the distribution of wages both in the covered and the uncovered sector. Collective bargaining in Germany takes place at either the industry or firm level. Collective bargaining coverage is much greater than union density. The share of employees covered by collective bargaining in a single firm can vary between 0% and 100%. This institutional setup suggests that researchers should explicitly distinguish union density, coverage rate at the firm level, and coverage at the individual level. Using linked employer-employee data, we estimate OLS and quantile regressions of wages on these dimensions of union influence. A higher share of employees in a firm covered by industry-wide or firm-specific contracts is associated with higher wages, but there is no clear-cut effect on wage dispersion. Yet, holding coverage at the firm level constant, individual bargaining coverage is associated with a lower wage level and less wage dispersion. A greater union density reinforces the effects of coverage, but the effect of union density is negative at all points of the wage distribution for employees who work in firms without collective bargaining coverage. Greater union density thus compresses the wage distribution while moving the distribution in firms without coverage uniformly. The second chapter evaluates the impact of the UK Working Time Regulations 1998, which introduced mandatory paid holiday entitlement. The regulation gave(nearly) all workers the right to a minimum of 4 weeks of paid holiday per a year. With constant weekly pay this change amounts effectively to an increase in the real hourly wage of about 8.5% for someone going from 0 to 4 weeks paid holiday per year, which should lead to adjustments in employment. For employees I use complementary log-log regression to account for right-censoring of employment spells. I find no increase in the hazard to exit employment within a year after treatment. Adjustments in wages cannot explain this result as they are increasing for the treated groups relative to the control. I also evaluate the long run trend in aggregate employment, using the predicted treatment probabilities in a difference-in-differences framework. Here I find a small and statistically significant decrease in employment. This effect is driven by a trend reversal in employment, coinciding with the treatment. The third chapter considers how the availability of a personal computer at home changed employment for married women. I develop a theoretical model that motivates the empirical specifications. Using data from the U.S. CPS from 1984 to 2003, I find that employment is 1.5 to 7 percentage points higher for women in households with a computer. The model predicts that the increase in employment is driven by higher wages. I find having a computer at home is associated with higher wages, and employment in more computer intensive occupations, which is consistent with the model. Decomposing the changes by educational attainment shows that both women with low levels of education (high school diploma or less) and women with the highest levels of education (Master's degree or more) have high returns from home computers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Alexander Lembcke
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Sets: Departments > Economics

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