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Kids Connecting on Social Media Are Less Satisfied With Real Life

Happy children make for better future workers
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Children who chat on social media suffer the consequences, a British survey finds. 

The research digs into why social media-active adolescents report lower satisfaction with their lives, and it's the lead item in this week's research wrap. We've also taken a look at the flattening college wage premium, how Americans die on the job, and how central banks' large-scale asset purchase programs worked out. 

Check this column every week for a roundup of recent, pertinent economic research from around  the world. 

Honey, get off the internet. 

Kids who spend more time chatting on social websites feel reduced satisfaction about all parts of their lives except for their friendships, research from the Institute of Labor Economics shows. Looking at a national sample of British children between the ages of 10 and 15 collected from 2010 to 2014, the researchers found that spending one hour a day chatting on social networks reduced the probability of a kid being completely satisfied with his or her life overall by about 14 percentage points.

Children might have been exposed to cyber bullying, had less time left over to do other things that would have improved their well-being, or may have made comparisons about their lives against others, the researchers suggest.  

Why does this matter, economically? Childhood experiences are important in shaping how they'll succeed as adults, the authors say, so it makes sense to pay attention to something that's putting a dent in the early happiness of future workers.

Social Media Use and Children's Wellbeing
Published December 2016
Available at the IZA website

The flat college wage premium

The wage gap between college educated workers and those with only a high school education has flattened out since 2010 after years of growth, a result of both a shift away from middle-skill occupations and a weakening of demand for advanced cognitive skills. 

San Francisco Fed economist Robert Valletta finds evidence of skill downgrading: since 2000, there's evidence that college-educated workers may have slid increasingly into routine jobs, and since 2010, the wage gap between graduate degree holders and college-only workers in similar jobs has declined. That suggests there's less of a competitive edge from additional training.

"Overall, the results suggest rising competition between education groups for increasingly scarce well-paid jobs," Valetta writes. "The flattening of returns as costs have continued to rise suggests that college may be an unfavorable financial investment for rising numbers of individuals." 

Recent Flattening In the Higher Education Wage Premium: Polarization, Skill Downgrading, or Both? 
This version published December 2016
Available on the NBER website

This job is killing me

Americans died on the job in the highest numbers in seven years in 2015, new Bureau of Labor Statistics figures show. That's because more were working: the rate of fatal injuries actually fell to 3.38 per 100,000 full-time workers, compared to 3.43 in 2014. Roadway incidents account for more than a-quarter of all fatal injuries, while workplace suicides dropped by 18 percent. 

National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries in 2015
Available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics website
Published on Dec. 16

Still trying to wrap your head around QE? 

The Altanta Fed's got your back. The regional reserve bank's Macroblog has a post out this week that breaks down several papers about the effects of large-scale asset purchases. The conclusion is that while the effects of quantitative easing are hard to assess, it seems to have influenced longer-term interest rates: as central banks purchase longer-dated securities, investors and banks bid up the price of remaining long-maturity government and private debt in the market. Essentially, the papers say that theoretically and empirically, QE probably worked. 

The Impact of Extraordinary Policy on Interest and Foreign Exchange Rates
Published Dec. 16
Available at the Atlanta Fed website

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