Monday, January 9, 2023

Where Are the Workers? From Great Resignation to Quiet Quitting

Where Are the Workers? From Great Resignation to Quiet Quitting. Dain Lee, Jinhyeok Park & Yongseok Shin. NBER Working Paper 30833. January 2023. DOI 10.3386/w30833

Abstract: To better understand the tight post-pandemic labor market in the US, we decompose the decline in aggregate hours worked into the extensive (fewer people working) and the intensive margin changes (workers working fewer hours). Although the pre-existing trend of lower labor force participation especially by young men without a bachelor's degree accounts for some of the decline in aggregate hours, the intensive margin accounts for more than half of the decline between 2019 and 2022. The decline in hours among workers was larger for men than women. Among men, the decline was larger for those with a bachelor's degree than those with less education, for prime-age workers than older workers, and also for those who already worked long hours and had high earnings. Workers' hours reduction can explain why the labor market is even tighter than what is expected at the current levels of unemployment and labor force participation.

Why do humans make so many laws? On the origin of laws by natural selection.

On the origin of laws by natural selection. Peter De Scioli. Evolution and Human Behavior, January 9 2023.

Abstract: Humans are lawmakers like we are toolmakers. Why do humans make so many laws? Here we examine the structure of laws to look for clues about how humans use them in evolutionary competition. We will see that laws are messages with a distinct combination of ideas. Laws are similar to threats but critical differences show that they have a different function. Instead, the structure of laws matches moral rules, revealing that laws derive from moral judgment. Moral judgment evolved as a strategy for choosing sides in conflicts by impartial rules of action—rather than by hierarchy or faction. For this purpose, humans can create endless laws to govern nearly any action. However, as prolific lawmakers, humans produce a confusion of contradictory laws, giving rise to a perpetual battle to control the laws. To illustrate, we visit some of the major conflicts over laws of violence, property, sex, faction, and power.


Let us ponder down a path from the evolution of the human mind all the way to laws, governments, and societies. On such a long trek, we may become lost and separated at times but remember we are here to enjoy the views and to invigorate ourselves by struggling with immense perplexities. If we discover anything of use, it will be more than we could have hoped.

We will travel light to keep a brisk pace and focus on ideas and arguments. Set aside for a moment the heavy jargon and weighty traditions that have amassed on these subjects. Rest assured, we will return at the end to review numerous literatures under Notes. The Notes follow the sections of the article and review literature on each topic in order.

Modern societies depend on governments. Governments are made of laws. Therefore, if we can understand how and why an animal, Homo sapiens, makes so many laws about so many things, we will have come a long way toward our destination.