Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research - Research Publications

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    Essential work and emergency childcare: identifying gender differences in COVID-19 effects on labour demand and supply
    Meekes, J ; Hassink, WHJ ; Kalb, G (Oxford University Press (OUP), 2022)
    We examine whether the COVID-19 crisis affects women and men differently in terms of employment, working hours, and hourly wages, and whether the effects are demand or supply driven. COVID-19 impacts are studied using administrative data on all Dutch employees up to December 2020, focussing on the national lockdowns and emergency childcare for essential workers in the Netherlands. First, the impact of COVID-19 is much larger for non-essential workers than for essential workers. Although female non-essential workers are more affected than male non-essential workers, on average, women and men are equally affected, because more women than men are essential workers. Second, the impact for partnered essential workers with young children, both men and women, is not larger than for others. Third, single-parent essential workers respond with relatively large reductions in labour supply, suggesting emergency childcare was insufficient for them. Overall, labour demand effects appear larger than labour supply effects.
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    Unencumbered and still unequal? Work hour-Health tipping points and gender inequality among older, employed Australian couples
    Doan, T ; LaBond, C ; Banwell, C ; Timmins, P ; Butterworth, P ; Strazdins, L (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2022-06-01)
    Could working into older age offer women an opportunity to 'catch up' their careers and redress their financial disadvantage in retirement? This is a period of relative 'unencumbrance' from childrearing, potentially freeing women's time for more paid work. Here, we examine whether women aged 50 to 70 are able to increase their workhours, and what happens to their mental health, vitality and wealth. We used a representative household-based panel of employed older Australians (the HILDA survey). The longitudinal bootstrapped 3SLS estimation technique adjusted for reciprocal relationships between wages, workhours, and health, modelled in the context of domestic work time. We found that, relative to their same-aged male counterparts, older women spent 10 h more each week on domestic work, and 9 h less on work that earned income. When women sought to add more paid hours on top of their unpaid hours, their mental health and vitality were impaired. Men were typically able to maintain their workhours and health advantage by spending fewer hours each week on domestic work. Unable to work longer without trading-off their health, and paid less per hour if they did so, our analysis questions whether working into older age offers women a road out of inequality and disadvantage.
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    Excess shocks can limit the economic interpretation
    Pagan, A ; Robinson, T (Elsevier BV, 2022-06-01)
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    The diagonal approach: A theoretic framework for the economic evaluation of vertical and horizontal interventions in healthcare
    Kirwin, E ; Meacock, R ; Round, J ; Sutton, M (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2022-05-01)
    The diagonal approach is a health system funding concept wherein vertical approaches targeting specific diseases are combined with horizontal approaches intended to strengthen health systems broadly. This taxonomy can also be used to classify health system interventions as either vertical or horizontal. Previous studies have used mathematical programming to evaluate horizontal interventions, but these models have not allowed concurrent evaluation of different types of horizontal interventions or captured spillovers and intertemporal effects. This paper aims to develop a theoretic framework for the diagonal approach. The framework is articulated through integer programming, maximizing health benefits given constraints by identifying the optimal set of both vertical and horizontal interventions to fund. The theoretic framework for the diagonal approach is developed by synthesizing and expanding three prior works. The decision problem is synthesised to allow concurrent evaluation of three different types of horizontal interventions, those: (i) improving health system efficiency, (ii) improving capacity, and (iii) investing in new platforms. Linear programs are converted to integer form, relaxing previous assumptions related to constant returns to scale and divisibility of interventions. The framework is expanded to evaluate multiple budget constraints and options for new platforms. A new form for the value function is used to estimate the benefits of intervention combinations, capturing spillovers between vertical and horizontal interventions and dynamic returns to scale. The decision problem is specified inferotemporally, explicitly capturing the impact of the time horizon on the optimal choice set. Dynamic examples are provided to demonstrate the advantages of the diagonal approach over prior frameworks. This framework extends existing works, enabling simultaneous comparison of various combinations of both vertical and horizontal interventions, capturing spillovers and intertemporal effects. The diagonal approach framework defines decision problems flexibly and realistically, forming the basis for future applied work. Implementation would improve resource allocation and patient health outcomes.
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    The protective effects of wellbeing and flourishing on long-term mental health risk
    Burns, RA ; Windsor, T ; Butterworth, P ; Anstey, KJ (Elsevier BV, 2022-12)
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    Effect of lockdown on mental health in Australia: evidence from a natural experiment analysing a longitudinal probability sample survey
    Butterworth, P ; Schurer, S ; Trong-Anh, T ; Vera-Toscano, E ; Wooden, M (ELSEVIER SCI LTD, 2022-05-01)
    BACKGROUND: Many studies have examined population mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic but have been unable to isolate the direct effect of lockdowns. The aim of this study was to examine changes in the mental health of Australians aged 15 years and older during the COVID-19 pandemic using a quasi-experimental design to disentangle the lockdown effect. METHODS: We analysed data from ten annual waves (2011-20) of the longitudinal Household, Income and Labour Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) Survey to identify changes in the mental health of respondents from the pre-COVID-19 period (2011-19) to the COVID-19 period (2020). Difference-in-differences models were used to compare these changes between respondents in the state of Victoria who were exposed to lockdown at the time of the 2020 interviews (treatment group) and respondents living elsewhere in Australia (who were living relatively free of restrictions; control group). The models included state, year (survey wave), and person-specific fixed effects. Mental health was assessed using the five-item Mental Health Inventory (MHI-5), which was included in the self-complete questionnaire administered during the survey. FINDINGS: The analysis sample comprised 151 583 observations obtained from 20 839 individuals from 2011 to 2020. The treatment group included 3568 individuals with a total of 37 578 observations (34 010 in the pre-COVID-19 and 3568 in the COVID-19 period), and the control group included 17 271 individuals with 114 005 observations (102 867 in the pre-COVID-19 and 11 138 in the COVID-19 period). Mean MHI-5 scores did not differ between the treatment group (72·9 points [95% CI 72·8-73·2]) and control group (73·2 points [73·1-73·3]) in the pre-COVID-19 period. In the COVID-19 period, decreased mean scores were seen in both the treatment group (69·6 points [69·0-70·2]) and control group (70·8 points [70·5-71·2]). Difference-in-differences estimation showed a small but statistically significant effect of lockdown on MHI-5 scores, with greater decline for residents of Victoria in 2020 than for those in the rest of Australia (difference -1·4 points [95% CI -1·7 to -1·2]). Stratified analyses showed that this lockdown effect was larger for females (-2·2 points [-2·6 to -1·7]) than for males (-0·6 [-0·8 to -0·5]), and even larger for women in couples with children younger than 15 years (-4·4 points [-5·0 to -3·8]), and for females who lived in flats or apartments (-4·1 points [-5·4 to -2·8]) or semi-detached houses, terraced houses, or townhouses (-4·8 points [-6·4 to -3·2]). INTERPRETATION: The imposition of lockdowns was associated with a modest negative change in overall population mental health. The results suggest that the mental health effects of lockdowns differ by population subgroups and for some might have exaggerated existing inequalities in mental health. Although lockdowns have been an important public health tool in suppressing community transmission of COVID-19, more research is needed into the potential psychosocial impacts of such interventions to inform their future use. FUNDING: US National Institutes of Health.
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    Literature review on the impact of welfare policy design on children and youth
    Broadway, B ; LoRiggio, T ; Ryan, C ; Zhu, A (WILEY, 2021-10-13)
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