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Canadian Women Economists Committee / Comité des Femmes Économistes Canadiennes


Every semester, we feature new research papers by women economists in Canadian universities. Check out our 2022 fall papers!


Heather Sarsons, University of British Columbia, "Flexible Wages, Bargaining, and the Gender Gap" (with Barbara Biasi)

Does flexible pay increase the gender wage gap? To answer this question, we analyze the wages of public school teachers in Wisconsin, where a 2011 reform allowed school districts to set teachers’ pay more flexibly and engage in individual negotiations. Using quasi-exogenous variation in the timing of the introduction of flexible pay, driven by the expiration of preexisting collective-bargaining agreements, we show that flexible pay lowered the salaries of women compared with men with the same credentials. This gap is larger for younger teachers and smaller for teachers working under a female principal or superintendent. Survey evidence suggests that the gap is partly driven by women engaging less frequently in negotiations over pay, especially when the counterpart is a man. The gap is unlikely to be driven by observable gender differences in job mobility or teacher ability, although the threat of moving and a high demand for male teachers could exacerbate it. Our results suggest that pay discretion and wage bargaining are important determinants of the gender wage gap and that institutions, such as unions, might help narrow this gap.


Catherine Michaud-Leclerc, Université Laval, "Restricted access: How the internet can be used to promote reading and learning" (with Laura Derksen and Pedro C.L. Souza)

Can schools use the internet to promote reading and learning? We provided Wikipedia access to randomly-selected students in Malawian boarding secondary schools. Students used the online resource broadly and intensively, and found it trustworthy, including for information about news and safe sex. We find a 0.10σ impact on English exam scores, and a higher impact among low achievers (0.20σ). Students used Wikipedia to study Biology, and exam scores increased for low achievers (0.14σ). Our results show that by restricting internet access to a source of engaging and accessible reading material, it is possible to encourage independent reading and affect educational outcomes.


Laétitia Renée, Université de Montréal, "How to measure parenting styles?" (with Christopher Rauh)

In this paper, we measure parenting styles through unsupervised machine learning in a panel following children from age 5 to 29 months. The topic model, which is a statistical model originally developed to discover the latent semantic structures in text, classifies parents into two parenting styles: “warm” and “cold”. Parents of the warm type tend to respond to children’s expressions in a supportive manner, while parents of the cold type are less likely to engage with their children in an encouraging manner. Warm parenting is more likely amongst educated and older mothers. Although styles reveal some persistence, the share of parents with a warm style decreases with the age of the child, in particular for boys. Children of warm parents achieve higher cognitive and non-cognitive scores at later ages. We find that the topic model estimated on different sample splits, such as by education or child age, reveal additional information while maintaining robust overall patterns.


Sara Rohany Tabatabai, Ryerson University, "International sourcing, complementary inputs, and the structure of trade agreements: Deep, shallow, narrow, and wide" (with Richard Chisik)

We analyze Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) formation among a subset of members of a multilateral agreement when imported inputs are complementary to one another. A shallow (focused only on border policies) multilateral agreement does not place countries on the efficiency frontier. Furthermore, no subset of countries will form a shallow PTA. Alternatively, a deep PTA that addresses behind-the-border policies increases each country's welfare. This result suggests that the recent proliferation of PTA formation is driven by a need for deep integration. Although these deep PTAs increase welfare over a shallow multilateral agreement the efficiency frontier can only be reached by a deep multilateral agreement that covers both border and behind-the-border policies. Whether a deep PTA can generate consensus approval for further multilateral-deep integration depends on the structure of the PTA and the success of the multilateral-shallow agreement in lowering tariffs.


Eliane H. Barker, Queen's University, "The impact of hospital closures and mergers on patient welfare" (with Jenny Watt and Joan Tranmer)

We use data on a large wave of directed hospital mergers and closures in Ontario to investigate the impact of hospital reorganization on patient welfare. We estimate a model of patient hospital choice on data collected before the reorganization, finding that both distance and hospital quality are determinants of choice. The model is then used to determine the short-run and long-run welfare impact of reorganization. Results suggest that cost savings and efficiency are not the only factors to consider when restructuring in settings where patients do not pay for services. Hospital access and quality must be considered.


Past papers

Nazanin Behzadan, "The Paradox of Transfers: Distribution and the Dutch Disease"

Doriane Intungane, "The Impact of Macroprudential Policies on the Transmission of Shocks across Financially Integrated Countries"

Marlène Koffi, University of Toronto, "Innovative Ideas and Gender Inequality"


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