ISER: PFDs' effect on Alaska workers varies based on gender
Permanent Fund dividend checks have small but measurable effects on Alaska’s labor market in the months after their distribution, according to new research, slightly increasing the employment rate of men and shortening women’s time at work.
The findings from the University of Alaska Anchorage’s Institute of Social and Economic Research, released Wednesday, are the latest in a series of intensive studies on the effects of PFD distributions in Alaska. A February report from ISER found that reported incidents of substance abuse in Anchorage rose by 10% in the four weeks after dividends were paid from 2000 through 2016, with property crime falling 8% but violent crime unaffected during the same time period in those years.
Wednesday’s 48-page study, by the institute’s Andrew Bibler, Mouhcine Guettabi and Matthew Reimer, covers a slightly wider time period spanning from 1994 through 2017. The average dividend during those 24 years works out to $1,730.99.
Based on the dividend data as well as information from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Current Population Survey, the study’s authors estimate that “a $1,000 increase in the PFD leads to about a one-hour a week reduction in hours among employed women in the three months after the PFD is received.” The dividend’s effect didn’t change significantly among married versus unmarried women, or those with children overall versus without, but was concentrated in certain groups.
“This is mostly seen in younger women, lower wage earners, and those with young children,” ISER officials wrote. “While women may work less, they remain employed at a constant rate. The authors find no significant change in the number of hours employed men work; however, the percentage of men employed increases in the three months following the PFD.”
The study male found that male employment in the three months after a dividend’s distribution increases by 3.1% for single men, and 2.9% for men without children in the household, for each $1,000 increase in the size of the dividend. The effect temporarily adds about 3,000 jobs to Alaska’s economy for each additional $1,000 in the dividend, but doesn’t make up for the reductions in female work hours.
“The result is a .7% decline in hours worked in the months immediately after the PFD; annually this decline lessens to less than .2%, a relatively small number,” ISER officials wrote.
ISER is continuing to conduct a series of studies on the dividend’s immediate impacts as social scientists examine the concept of a universal basic income, under which governments would pay all citizens a set amount of money for living expenses.
In Wednesday’s study, the researchers note that the self-canceling effects of the dividend on the labor market may be useful information for other authorities considering whether to implement a universal basic income.
“This is critical for designing UBI-related policy, because it suggests that the universal nature of UBI leads to positive demand shocks that partially offset any negative impact on labor supply,” the study read.
Institute staff said in February that they are also planning to release a study discussing the PFD’s effects on childhood obesity.
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