Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society

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  • Employment Effects of the Affordable Care Act Medicaid Expansions

    We examine whether the recent expansions in Medicaid from the Affordable Care Act reduced “employment lock” among childless adults who were previously ineligible for public coverage. We compare employment in states that chose to expand Medicaid versus those that chose not to expand, before and after implementation. We find that although the expansion increased Medicaid coverage by 3.0 percentage points among childless adults, there was no significant impact on employment.

  • Governors' Party Affiliation and Unions

    Employing a regression discontinuity (RD) approach on gubernatorial elections in the United States over the last three decades, this paper investigates the causal effects of governors' party affiliation (Democrat versus Republican) on unionization of workers, and unionized workers' working hours and earnings. Surprisingly, we find no significant impact from the party affiliation of governors on union membership and union workers' labor‐market outcomes.

  • The UK Gender Pay Gap 1997–2015: What Is the Role of the Public Sector?

    The Labour Force Survey is used to examine the influence of sector on the UK gender pay gap 1997–2015. The assessment is twofold: first comparing gender pay gaps within sectors and second through identifying the contribution of the concentration of women in the public sector to the overall gender pay gap. The long‐term narrowing of the gender pay gap, which predominately reflects relative improvements in women's productivity‐related characteristics, is found to stall in 2010 within each sector. This is considered in the context of claims that public sector austerity represents a critical turning point in progress toward gender equality at work.

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  • Sickness Absence and Works Councils: Evidence from German Individual and Linked Employer–Employee Data

    Using both household and linked employer–employee data for Germany, we assess the effects of nonunion representation in the form of works councils on (1) individual sickness absence rates and (2) a subjective measure of personnel problems due to sickness absence as perceived by a firm's management. We find that the existence of a works council is positively correlated with the incidence and the annual duration of absence. Further, personnel problems due to absence are more likely to occur in plants with a works council.

  • Immigration and Access to Fringe Benefits: Evidence from the Tobacco Use Supplements

    We examine the extent to which assimilation and residential ethnic enclaves are associated with immigrant access to smoking‐related fringe benefits. In particular, we consider access to office smoking bans and employer‐sponsored smoking cessation programs. We first document differences in access to these benefits between immigrant and native workers. Second, we show that assimilation is positively associated with smoking‐related fringe benefit access while enclave residence does not predict access. These findings broaden our understanding of immigrant employment.

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  • Choosing Skilled Foreign‐Born Workers: Evaluating Alternative Methods for Allocating H‐1B Work Permits

    The H‐1B program allows highly educated foreign‐born labor to temporarily work in the United States. Quotas restrict the number of H‐1B recipients. In many years, all available work permits were allocated by random lottery. This paper argues that an alternative distribution method based upon ability would increase output, output per worker, and wages paid to less‐educated workers. Baseline estimates suggest that a change in allocation policy could result in a $26.5 billion gain for the economy over a 6‐year period. This estimate grows when H‐1B demand rises.

  • How Capitalism Endogenously Creates Rising Income Inequality and Economic Crisis: The Macro Political Economy Model of Early Industrial Relations

    A major economic issue today is the causes and consequences of wage stagnation and rising income inequality. This paper uncovers, describes, and formalizes the macro political economy model developed by pre–New Deal institutional/industrial relations economists to explain these issues. The model is formalized in a three‐part diagram and used to explain the role of inequality and wage stagnation in causing the Great Depression and World Financial Crisis and the appropriate policy responses.

  • U.S. Free Trade Agreements and Enforcement of Labor Law in Latin America

    The paper provides difference‐in‐differences estimates suggesting that Latin American countries that signed a free trade agreement with the United States experienced an increase in the number of labor inspectors and inspections. We also find large heterogeneity across signers and no evidence that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) had a positive impact on Mexico. We conclude by suggesting that the stringency of content of the accord and the resources devoted by the U.S. government to increase enforcement make a difference.

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