September 30, 2005
Recently Published Scholarship
William L. Corbett, Resolving Employee Discharge Disputes Under the Montana Wrongful Discharge Act (MWDA), Discharge Claims Arising Apart from the MWDA, and Practice and Procedure Issues in the Context of a Discharge Case, 66 Montana L. Rev. 329 (2005).
Audrey Wolfson Latourette, Sex Discrimination in the Legal Profession: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives, 29 Valparaiso U. L. Rev. 859 (2005).
Paul L. Arrington, Not Always Protected: Reverse Age Discrimination and the Supreme Court’s Decision in General Dynamics Land Systems, Inc. v. Cline, 73 UMKC L. Rev. 543 (2005).
Toni Lester, Queering the Office: Can Sexual Orientation Employment Discrimination Laws Transform Work Place Norms for LGBT Employees?, 73 UMKC L. Rev. 643 (2005).
Sharlott K. Thompson, Hostile Work Environment Disability Harassment under the ADA, 73 UMKC L. Rev. 715 (2005).
Legislative Responses to Bush's Suspension of Davis-Bacon Act
President Bush's September 8, 2005 suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act prevailing wage requirements in response to the national emergency caused by Hurricane Katrina has provoked a number of legislative responses, including the following:
- H.R 3684 would suspend Davis-Bacon wage rate requirements “in any area the President determines to be a major disaster… not to apply for a period of 1 year from the date on which the President makes such determination.”
- HR 3763 and S 1749 would reinstate the application of wage requirements notwithstanding the proclamation of the President.”
- And HR 3834 seeks to “repeal the authority of the President to suspend the prevailing wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act (40 USC §3147) and reinstate the application of such requirements.”
- Joe Hodnicki
NBER Report on the Law and Economics of Antidiscrimination Law
The Law and Economics of Antidiscrimination Law by John J. Donohue III - #11631
Abstract: This essay provides an overview of the central theoretical law and economics insights concerning antidiscrimination law across a variety of contexts including discrimination in labor markets, housing markets, consumer purchases, and policing. The different models of discrimination based on animus, statistical discrimination, and cartel exploitation are analyzed for both race and sex discrimination. I explore the theoretical arguments for prohibiting private discriminatory conduct and illustrates the tensions that exist between concerns for liberty and equality. I also discuss the critical point that one cannot automatically attribute observed disparities in various economic or social outcomes to discrimination, and illustrate the complexities in establishing the existence of discrimination. The major empirical findings showing the effectiveness of federal law in the first decade after passage of the 1964 Civil Rights Act are contrasted with the generally less optimistic findings from subsequent antidiscrimination interventions.
September 29, 2005
New Workplace-ADR Simulations Book
Workplace ADR Simulations and Teacher’s Guide, 2d ed. 2005
Laura J. Cooper & Carolyn Chalmers
This book contains six ADR simulations, all focused on the workplace. Though marketed as a companion to the casebook ADR in the Workplace, the Simulations book would be a valuable addition to any labor or employment law course. I use the sexual harassment mediation simulation in my Civil Procedure course; students consistently refer to it in course evaluations as the highlight of the semester. I will use the ADA mediation/ nonunion arbitration simulation in my Employment Discrimination class next semester. There also are two grievance arbitration/mediation simulations that would be appropriate for use in a traditional Labor Law class. All simulations contain a comprehensive set of materials, including the background facts and law, bibliographic references, confidential information for role-players, and specific guidance for the teacher in conducting the simulation and leading the discussion afterward. The book is published by Thomson-West; the ISBN is 14766-7.
September 28, 2005
The leaders of the two Senate committees with jurisdiction over pensions reached an agreement yesterday on a pension reform and funding bill, clearing the way for consideration by the full Senate. The bill will significantly change the single-employer-plan funding rules. It also will give airlines 14 years to stretch payment of their defined benefit pension obligations. For complete details, you can view the U.S. Senate press release at Pension Security & Transparency Act.
- Rick Bales
"Change to Win"
"Change to Win," the new federation of unions created after several unions splintered from the AFL-CIO, continues to meet at a convention in St. Louis. Anna Burger, of the SEIU, has been elected Chair. She is the first woman to head a major union or labor federation. The federation has pledged to devote 75% of its per capita taxes to union organizing. For more information on the federation, Anna Burger, and the ongoing convention, visit the website of "Change to Win."
Recent NBER Reports on Wage Inequality
Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Re-Assessing the Revisionists
by David H. Autor, Lawrence F. Katz, Melissa S. Kearney - #11627
A large literature documents a substantial rise in U.S. wage inequality and educational wage differentials over the past several decades and finds that these trends can be primarily accounted for by shifts in the supply of and demand for skills reinforced by the erosion of labor market institutions affecting the wages of low- and middle-wage workers. Drawing on an additional decade of data, a number of recent contributions reject this consensus to conclude that (1) the rise in wage inequality was an "episodic" event of the first-half of the 1980s rather than a "secular" phenomenon, (2) this rise was largely caused by a falling minimum wage rather than by supply and demand factors; and (3) rising residual wage inequality since the mid-1980s is explained by confounding effects of labor force composition rather than true increases in inequality within detailed demographic groups. We reexamine these claims using detailed data from the Current Population Survey and find only limited support. Although the growth of overall inequality in the U.S. slowed in the 1990s, upper tail inequality rose almost as rapidly during the 1990s as during the 1980s. A decomposition applied to the CPS data reveals large and persistent rise in within-group earnings inequality over the past several decades, controlling for changes in labor force composition. While changes in the minimum wage can potentially account for much of the movement in lower tail earnings inequality, strong time series correlations of the evolution of the real minimum wage and upper tail wage inequality raise questions concerning the causal interpretation of such relationships. We also find that changes in the college/high school wage premium appear to be well captured by standard models emphasizing rapid secular growth in the relative demand for skills and fluctuations in the rate of growth of the relative supply of college workers -- though these models do not accurately predict the slowdown in the growth of the college/high-school gap during the 1990s. We conclude that these patterns are not adequately explained by either a 'unicausal' skill-biased technical change explanation or a revisionist hypothesis focused primarily on minimum wages and mechanical labor force compositional effects. We speculate that these puzzles can be partially reconciled by a modified version of the skill-biased technical change hypothesis that generates a polarization of skill demands.
Rising Wage Inequality: The Role of Composition and Prices
by David H. Autor, Lawrence F. Katz, Melissa S. Kearney - #11628
During the early 1980s, earnings inequality in the U.S. labor market rose relatively uniformly throughout the wage distribution. But this uniformity gave way to a significant divergence starting in 1987, with upper-tail (90/50) inequality rising steadily and lower tail (50/10) inequality either flattening or compressing for the next 16 years (1987 to 2003). This paper applies and extends a quantile decomposition technique proposed by Machado and Mata (2005) to evaluate the role of changing labor force composition (in terms of education and experience) and changing labor market prices to the expansion and subsequent divergence of upper- and lower-tail inequality over the last three decades We show that the extended Machado-Mata quantile decomposition corrects shortcomings of the original Juhn-Murphy-Pierce (1993) full distribution accounting method and nests the kernel reweighting approach proposed by DiNardo, Fortin and Lemieux (1996). Our analysis reveals that shifts in labor force composition have positively impacted earnings inequality during the 1990s. But these compositional shifts have primarily operated on the lower half of the earnings distribution by muting a contemporaneous, countervailing lower-tail price compression. The steady rise of upper tail inequality since the late 1970s appears almost entirely explained by ongoing between-group price changes (particularly increasing wage differentials by education) and residual price changes.
- Joe Hodnicki
September 27, 2005
Saudi Arabia's New Labor Code Allows Women to Work
The Arab News is reporting that the Council of Ministers has approved a new labor law that allows women to work "in all fields that suit their nature." Benefits include (1) maternity leave of four weeks before and six weeks after childbirth and (2) employers providing jobs to 50 women or more must arrange for babysitters to take care of their children aged below six.
- Joe Hodnicki
September 26, 2005
Recent NBER Reports on Human Capital: Urban Employment Growth & Clustering of Skilled People
Smart Cities: Quality of Life, Productivity, and the Growth Effect of Human Capital
by Jesse M. Shapiro - #11615
From 1940 to 1990, a 10 percent increase in a metropolitan area's concentration of college-educated residents was associated with a .8 percent increase in subsequent employment growth. Instrumental variables estimates support a causal relationship between college graduates and employment growth, but show no evidence of an effect of high school graduates. Using data on growth in wages, rents and house values, I calibrate a neoclassical city growth model and find that roughly 60 percent of the employment growth effect of college graduates is due to enhanced productivity growth, the rest being caused by growth in the quality of life. This finding contrasts with the common argument that human capital generates employment growth in urban areas solely through changes in productivity.
The Divergence of Human Capital Levels Across Cities
by Christopher R. Berry, Edward L. Glaeser - #11617 (EFG)
Over the past 30 years, the share of adult populations with college degrees increased more in cities with higher initial schooling levels than in initially less educated places. This tendency appears to be driven by shifts in labor demand as there is an increasing wage premium for skilled people working in skilled cities. In this paper, we present a model where the clustering of skilled people in metropolitan areas is driven by the tendency of skilled entrepreneurs to innovate in ways that employ other skilled people and by the elasticity of housing supply.
- Joe Hodnicki