Earnings inequality at the top has slowed progress in pay equity between men and women

Nicole Fortin, a professor of economics with the University of British Columbia, addressed the 50th anniversary meeting of the Canadian Economics Association with a “state of the art” presentation on earnings inequality in top incomes and the gender pay gap, examining three questions:

  1. What are the consequences of under representation of women in top incomes to the overall pay gap?
  2. How is it contributing to the slowdown in the convergence of male and female wages?
  3. What could be done to change things?

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Applying Behavioural Economics to Canadian public policy

Some decisions invite undesirable behaviour, even if unintentional. Others can encourage desirable behaviour, but they have to be thought through. Think about taking the escalator, or taking the stairs.

These actions are challenging because they have an immediate cost, but generate long-term benefits, and because human decision-making can be skewed to a present bias. Behavioural economics studies these challenges, and was the subject of a State of the Art Lecture given by Philip Oreopoulos of the University of Toronto at the 50th meeting of the Canadian Economics Association. Here is a summary of his talk.

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Is there a Canadian economics, or just economics done by Canadians?

This is the 50th anniversary of the Canadian Economics Association, and it is natural to wonder how Canadian economics has changed, even if there is such a distinct thing as “Canadian Economics.” The annual meetings kicked off with a session on “Fifty Years of Canadian Economics.”

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I am honoured to have won the “Doug Purvis Memorial Prize” for my research on inequality and social mobility

It is a particular honour to have my paper, “Income Inequality, Equality of Opportunity, and Intergenerational Mobility,” chosen for the 2014 Doug Purvis Memorial Prize. The prize is awarded annually by the Canadian Economics Association “to the authors of a highly significant, written contribution to Canadian economic policy.”

That is certainly honour enough, but I’m particularly grateful for another reason.

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Why does health in early life matter?

Children are less healthy at birth when they are born to low income families, and their health in early life echoes into adulthood determining the chances of success and independence decades later.

It is well known that humble beginnings are a handicap, argues Janet Currie of Princeton University, but careful analysis is needed to understand the mechanisms and to appreciate the extent to which health status at birth causes longer run outcomes associated with success in adulthood.

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