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AEA Poster Session
Friday, Jan. 7, 2022
7:00 AM - 6:00 PM (EST)
Saturday, Jan. 8, 2022
7:00 AM - 6:00 PM (EST)
Sunday, Jan. 9, 2022
7:00 AM - 3:00 PM (EST)
American Economic Association
'An Agent-based Stress Testing Framework of Central Clearing (G4, G2)
We put forward a partial equilibrium model of a central counterparty (CCP) and clearing members (CM). Agents are profit optimizing and are exposed to market risk. We simulate the balance sheets and the leverage of the CCP and the CMs as a result of the market price movements. We also model the margin shortfalls and the entire default waterfall in case of CM defaults. Moreover, we analyze the stability of the network of counterparties in a system with and without a CCP. We compare the stability of the networks with and without a CCP by analyzing i) endogenous feedback effects between CM defaults and market liquidity, ii) the contagion to non-defaulting CM as well as iii) the contagion from service functions that CMs provide to the CCPs, such as liquidity provision or collateral and investment services.
We find that in a system with a single CCP overall less defaults occur than in a system without a CCP. In addition, a CCP mitigates contagion measured by lower amount of 2nd-round defaults. We also find that mark-to-market price feedbacks have considerable adverse impact on the stability of the system, while that the mutualization of losses has a strong stabilizing effect.
A Free and Fair Economy: A Game of Justice and Inclusion (C7, D7)
In this study, we show that principles of market justice guarantee equilibrium existence and efficiency in a free economy. Chief among these principles is that your pay should not depend on your name, and a more productive agent should not earn less. We generalize our findings to economies with social justice and inclusion, implemented in progressive taxation and redistribution, and guarantee a basic income to unproductive agents. Our analysis uncovers a new class of strategic form games by incorporating normative principles into non-cooperative game theory. Illustrations include applications to exchange economies, surplus distribution in a firm, and contagion and self-enforcing lockdown in a networked economy.
A Joint Top Income and Wealth Distribution (C5, D3)
Top distributions of income and wealth are still incompletely measured in many national statistics, particularly when using survey data. This paper develops the technique of incorporating the joint distributional relationship to enhance the estimation of these two top distributions by using the best data available for Germany. We leverage the bivariate copula to extrapolate both income and wealth distributions from German PHF (Panel on Household Finance) data under the incidental truncation model. The copula modelling grants the separability in choosing the estimation domain as well as the parametric specification between the marginal distribution and dependence structure. One distinct feature of our paper is to complement the model fit with external validation. The copula estimate can help us to perform out-of-sample prediction on the very top of the tail distribution from one margin conditional on the characteristics of the other. The validation exercises show that our copula-based approach can approximate much closer to the top tax data and wealth “rich list” than those unconditional marginal extrapolations. The data and effectiveness of our copula-based approach also verify our presumption of incidental truncation and differential detectability in the top lists.
A neural network ensemble approach for GDP forecasting (E3, C5)
We propose an ensemble learning methodology to forecast the future US GDP growth release. Our approach combines a Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) and a Dynamic Factor model accounting for time-variation in the mean with a Generalized Autoregressive Score (DFM-GAS). We show how our approach improves forecasts in the aftermath of the 2008-09 global financial crisis by reducing the forecast error for the one-quarter horizon. An exercise on the COVID-19 recession shows a good performance during the economic rebound. Eventually, we provide an interpretable machine learning routine based on integrated gradients to evaluate how the features of the model reflect the evolution of the business cycle.
A new Fed policy tool to ***Stop Inflation without causing a Recession*** => CBDC "FedAccounts" (E5, E4)
This research, which is based on the author’s forthcoming book "Distorted Money Flow," examines the diversion of the flow of money in recent decades from Main Street to Wall Street that has resulted in a buildup of both private debt and public debt without which the people on Main Street would be unable to buy back the value of the goods and services they are producing, and examines a way of achieving much tighter and more immediate control over consumer demand.
The Federal Reserve uses a supply-of-money tool to stop inflation by raising interest rates in financial markets causing businesses to cut back employee working hours, lay off workers and close outlets. Countering inflation by cutting back supply-of-goods-and-services in an attempt to curb demand-for-goods-and-services makes no sense when a consumer-savings tool can be created to stop inflation directly and more effectively.
This is achieved by modifying "The Public Banking Act" as recently introduced in Congress to create a digital cybersecurity block-chained Federal Reserve smartphone bank account for every American. Just as ATMs can be used by competing banks for a fee, private banks could be offered a fee to host these Federal Reserve bank accounts for individuals who prefer physical rather than direct online computer and smartphone digital banking.
To focus these accounts on consumers with a high marginal propensity to consume and to avoid competing with commercial banks for large accounts, these accounts could be restricted to one account per Social Security number and interest could be earned only on some base amount (e.g. $10,000 or less). Initially, $1,000 would be put into each account, which could not be withdrawn until after age 70. However, account holders could add additional money up to a specified annual limit until the total in their account reached the base amount. Money above the base amount would earn no interest. Any money above the initial $1,000 could be withdrawn at any time along with interest earned.
Whenever excessive inflation threatened, the Federal Reserve could set high interest rates for these accounts, increase the annual contribution limit allowed for that year and increase the base amount to encourage savings and discourage consumer demand, while keeping interest rates somewhat lower in the financial markets to encourage an increase in the supply of goods and services to tightly control inflation. See short YouTube video on "How to STOP INFLATION without causing a RECESSION" => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nnMT7DVyK0g
In the face of an economic downturn, the interest rate on savings could be lowered and the Federal Reserve could inject money into these individual Federal Reserve bank accounts promoting cash withdrawals and spending to stimulate consumer demand as necessary to restore the economy to full employment. Consistent with "The Public Banking Act" as recently introduced in Congress, the Federal Reserve bank would be authorized to offer small loans to individuals and small businesses to further encourage consumer demand and business activity and employment. See short YouTube video on "OPTIMAL MONEY FLOW" => https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-hqBD3ZEhIM
Get more details at => https://optimal-money-flow.website/
A New Theoretical Foundation for the Shape of Utility Functions over Wealth (D9, D6)
This paper proposes a new theoretical foundation for the shape of utility functions that holds regardless of contextual details. In particular, when decisionmakers face an underlying distribution of consumption values for which they allocate their wealth, their utility over that wealth is governed by that distribution. When the distribution has a Pareto tail, the utility function exhibits a constant elasticity. As its exponent approaches one following Zipf's Law, the utility function becomes approximately logarithmic. Based on Zipf's Law, a new utility function that nests canonical utility functions is proposed. As distributions induced by plausible stochastic processes replicate labor supply elasticities that are in accord with real-world data, this finding has practical benefits for economists.
A Pandemic Trap: Juggling Stringency between Unemployment and COVID-19 Cases (H1, I1)
Using simultaneous equations models with panel data of 50 U.S. states, we examine the bi-directional and dynamic relationships between COVID-19 cases and unemployment in response to stringency policy. These relationships are critical to controlling COVID-19 spread while preserving the economy. When COVID-19 cases increase, we find that stringency policy becomes more restrictive and is effective in lowering cases. However, a high unemployment rate leads the government to reduce stringency, since implementing it increases the unemployment rate. We also find that the governor’s approval ratings positively affect state-level stringency policy; unemployment is affected negatively by retail sales and positively by labor participation, and temperature negatively affects the infection cases.
A Structural Analysis of Simple Contracts (C0, L0)
This paper provides an econometric framework for analyzing simple contracts where an
agent chooses between a fixed-price option and a cost-reimbursement option provided by a
principal. First, we propose a consistent procedure for testing the null hypothesis of a corresponding cost function being linear, which is widely assumed for tractability in the literature. Motivated by the rejection of such a null based on our empirical data, next we establish nonparametric identification, without restricting the cost function to be linear, for all model primitives conditioned on the agent exerting nonzero effort. These primitives include agent's cost and disutility functions, distribution of agent efficiency type, and parameters that characterize agent's bargaining power and intertemporal preference. Moreover, we propose a consistent procedure to implement the identification results for estimation. In our empirical study, we find strong evidence against linearity of the cost function. The importance of this empirical finding is further evidenced by a welfare analysis, which shows the welfare assessment to be sensitive to the specification of cost function.
A Structural Model of Subjective Well-Being (I3, J2)
I invoke the life-cycle labor supply and consumption framework to model subjective well-being as utility maximization. This framework opens the black box of material aspirations by incorporating two concepts: income desire and consumption desire, where the former adjusts on one's current income and the latter is determined by one's reference group. The framework has two predictions: (1) neighborhood income can be used as an instrument for identifying the impact of reference income on SWB, and (2) long-run impact of income on SWB can be isolated if we assume one's ``reference bias'' and ``optimism bias'' is unchanged over time. Our designed survey of all households in two homogeneous villages in China controls for sorting into neighborhoods, occupational effects and survey participation bias. The results show doubling one's reference income decreases SWB, measured by life satisfaction, by 0.6, which is less important than one's own income. The long-run impact of income on SWB is substantial, around 0.4.
A Tale of Gold and Blood: The Unintended Consequences of Market Regulation on Local Violence (O1, Q3)
How can a small change in fiscal accountability boost violent disputes for valuable natural resources? In this paper, we investigate a regulatory change in Brazil that greatly reduced governmental monitoring capacity against gold laundering and we show how this affected violence in illegal gold-mining sites. Because the new regulation introduced in 2013 made it harder for authorities to find illegal gold transactions between miners and first-buyers, demand for it increased and boosted competition for illegal mining sites, leading to more violence. To verify this, we devise a theoretical model and test its implications using a unique database combining gold deposits, Indigenous Territories, Natural Conservation Areas, environmental crimes, deforestation, and homicide rates. With a difference-in-differences design, we find that municipalities more exposed to illegal mining experienced extra 8 homicides per 100,000 people - or an increase of roughly 20% - after the regulation was passed. Moreover, the level of illegal activity, as well as deforestation, increased in places exposed to illegal gold-mining after the regulatory change.
A Tale of Two Firms (E3, E5)
This paper explores a contribution of the polarization in price-cost markups (see Diez, Fan, Villegas-Sanchez, 2021) to the slowdown of inflation/disinflation responses. Based on the basic general equilibrium model as in Gali (2015, Chapter 3), I extend the model to have two types of firms: high- and low-markup firms. In this environment, I compare the inflation responses of various shocks to the economy with the inflation responses in the single markup environments. The polarization on price-cost markups has a jamming effect on the responses of the aggregate price level, and the inflation responses are subdued in the polarized markup environment.
A Theory of Debt Maturity and Innovation (G3)
The financing of innovative firms must balance two goals. On the one hand, since innovation is inherently risky, the entrepreneur must receive adequate protection after failure. Simultaneously, the firm must be liquidated when its assets can be redeployed more efficiently elsewhere. Meeting these two goals can be especially challenging when contracts are incomplete and shaped by renegotiation. I show how an appropriate choice of debt maturity, together with ex-post contract renegotiation, embeds a "put option" into the firm's capital structure. The put is exercised when liquidation is efficient, and it partially insures the entrepreneur against failure and thus motivates innovation. The theory has novel empirical implications for the financing patterns of innovative firms.
A Theory of Subjective Feeling with Applications to Time Allocation (D9, D0)
In standard consumer theory, preferences are regarded as primitive. People are assumed capable of ranking any two bundles, and rationality implies choosing the most preferred bundle among available alternatives. Failure to optimize is considered anomalous. But what if, as suggested by some neuroscientists, preferences do not lie at the heart of human cognition? What if observed behavior is not based on an optimizing impulse?
We present a theory of the human experience that is independent of preference, and can also be free of the optimizing impulse. Our primitive called subjective feeling, akin to Jevons’s quantity of feeling, captures an individual’s ``instantaneous experiences” from both the engaged activity i and, given i, non-engaged activities j|i. When accumulated over time, these instantaneous experiences capture what we call ``integrated experience” from both i and all j|i's.
An essential distinction is maintained between a subject, who owns subjective feeling, and observers who wish to measure or estimate it. As observers, we call our measure of the primitive over time ``intensity of feeling,” f_i(t) for the engaged activity and f_j|i(t) for non-engaged activities. The activity on which a subject is spending time is the engaged activity and the remaining activities are non-engaged activities. Integrated experience is measured, from observers's perspective, by the integrals of f_i(t) and all f_j|i(t) during an interval of time.
We prove the existence of functions f_i(t) and f_j|i(t) that represent subjective feeling. Our theory rests upon three assumptions: I) a subject is considering spending time on a finite set of activities; II) at any moment in time, we assume that the subject is engaged in a single activity; and III) the rate of change in the intensity of feeling from an activity equals the difference between the proportional change in the intensity of feeling function for that activity and the sum of proportional changes in the intensity of feeling functions for the other activities, up to a coefficient of proportionality, also a function of time. These functions, for the engaged activity and all non-engaged activities, act simultaneously on the subject at every moment in time.
We apply our theory to time-allocation decisions. We explain a subject's choices of time allocations to different activities with a descriptive framework without imposing an optimizing impulse. Then, we impose an optimizing impulse and predict the subject's choice of time allocation and the order of engaged activities. Our descriptive framework relies on the concept of the switch-time, which is the instant when an engaged activity becomes a non-engaged activity and one of non-engaged activities becomes the engaged activity. Our prescriptive framework relies on the concept of conditional rationality, which is the subject's cognitive ability to order a finite number of overall experiences.
Our theory expands modern economic theory by making it more general and more generous. More general because our theory explains a non-optimal choice of time allocation and more generous because it has weaker assumptions, in particular a weak version of rationality, and predicts both the optimal time allocation and order of engaged activities.
Accounting for Transshipment: The Case of Kosovo (F1)
In November 2018, Kosovo imposed 100 percent tariff on goods imported from Serbia and Bosnia and Hercegovina. The tariff caused immediate and significant disruptions in regional trade flows. Imports from Serbia, the second largest trading partner of Kosovo after the EU, dropped to nearly zero by early 2019 and remained negligible thereafter. This paper empirically traces the transshipment from Serbia and Bosnia and Hercegovina to Kosovo via neighboring countries. Using imports data for 2017-19 at the HS 6-digit level and difference‐in‐difference approach to identify products that were previously being exported from Serbia and Bosnia and Hercegovina to Kosovo, this paper provides evidence of evasion of Kosovar tariff through transshipment via Albania and North Macedonia.
Adaptive Importance Sampling for Large DSGE Models (E1, C1)
The paper introduces a new adaptive methodology for the estimation of dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) models based on the Mixture of t by Importance Sampling weighted Expectation-Maximization (MitISEM). The use of Importance Sampling and of an adaptive scheme based on Expectation Maximization allows estimation of large-scale models and highly complex forms. Simulation exercises show how our method achieves identification of posterior distributions in several cases, including standard New Keynesians and macroeconomic models. We apply the MitISEM to estimate a large-scale open economy model encompassing international trade between two countries, namely Canada and the US. For both countries, we consider a rich fiscal policy sector that includes two different types of public expenditure: productive and unproductive government spending. Our findings show that, in the presence of nominal rigidities, an increase in productive spending generates a crowding-in on domestic private consumption whereas unproductive spending induces a fall in domestic private consumption. Finally, we find that irrespective to the type of government expenditure, an increase in public spending for the domestic economy induces an exchange rate appreciation and an improvement in the trade balance.
Aggregate Fluctuations from Clustered Micro Shocks (E3, E2)
Idiosyncratic firm-level shocks can generate macroeconomic fluctuations where they correlate across firms. However, most business cycle research has ignored the cross-firm pairwise correlations because a firm's cross-sectionally demeaned fluctuations are asymptotically uncorrelated with other firms. This argument breaks down if the variance-covariance matrix of idiosyncratic shocks differs across firms, as shown in the US data. Thus, I investigate how correlated idiosyncratic movements across firms within a cluster lead to macroeconomic fluctuations. These clustered origins well explain the evolution of the US GDP's volatility, especially the great moderation. Furthermore, their contributions to the volatility start to rise from around 10% to 25% in the recent two decades.
Aggregate Liquidity Allocation and Endogenous Uncertainty (E1, G0)
This paper provides a continuous time DSGE model to shed light on an endogenous mechanism of liquidity allocation between real economy and financial system. This theory is helpful for us to understand the weak investment and saving glut of non-financial corporates in main advanced economies during the current recovery from the Great Recession. Physical capitals have less liquidity than their corresponding equities. With financial frictions, investment depends not only on the equity price but also on the capital structure of corporates. When the net worth of entrepreneurs who are risk-averse are low, they will disinvest and hold more financial assets to hedge against risks. This leads to more funds flowing into financial system so that a financial boom with high system risks but a slow economic recovery.
Aggregate Uncertainty and the Micro-Dynamics of Firms (E3)
Using firm level micro-data, I find evidence that firms with lower growth prospects are more sensitive to aggregate shocks. I interpret these findings using a model of demand accumulation and endogenous entry and exit decisions, which I then estimate on French data. The resulting cyclical dynamics of firms provide an explanation for the observed counter-cyclical dispersion in firms' growth rates. They suggest that cyclical dispersion is the result of a pre-existing and persistent characteristic of the firm and caution against its use as a proxy for time-varying uncertainty. The estimated negative correlation between a firm's sensitivity to aggregate shocks and its expected future growth rate is shown to have important consequences for the cyclical characteristics of entering and exiting firms. The quantitative model suggests that this compositional effect is sizeable and equivalent to around 10.5% of the drop in aggregate employment between 2008 and 2009.
Ambiguity, Date Labels, and Food Waste (D9, D8)
The paper aims to understand how date labels (e.g., ‘best by’, and ‘use by’) would influence the consumer’s consumption decision. Existing studies have documented that date labels may cause consumers’ confusion about the edibility of food items and hence contribute to food waste. However, no study has investigated the underlying mechanism through which date labels may affect consumers’ food consumption decisions. This gap is important because legislators in the United States are contemplating regulating date labels to combat food waste (e.g., Food Date Labeling Act of 2019). The present study sheds light on the issue by theoretically modeling consumers’ decision under ambiguity and by using data collected from a series of experiments to test the hypotheses derived from the theoretical model.
We utilize an α-MaxMin model to depict a representative consumer’s decision making under ambiguity regarding whether or not to consume a food item with a certain date label. Testable hypotheses are derived from this theoretical. We conducted 16 series of laboratory experiments in two different cities in the United States (Auburn, AL and Ithaca, NY). The experiment includes an assessment of subjects’ ambiguity aversion parameters and solicitation of their food consumption decisions under various food item and date label scenarios. Results show that ‘use by’ date label will significantly increase waste of deli meat when compared with a ‘best by’ date label. A consumer who is more ambiguity averse would be more likely to discard deli meat labeled as ‘use by.’ These effects are not found for spaghetti sauce or eggs.
This study reveals the complexity of the interaction between date labels and consumers’ attitude toward ambiguity. It shows that simply changing food date labels might not be able to reduce food waste caused by consumers’ confusion on the information conveyed by these date labels.
An Explanation of Real U.S. Interest Rates with an Exchange Economy (E4, G1)
The paper offers an explanation of historical quarterly real 3-month US Treasury bond interest rates in the United States economy since 1975. This offers one solution to the puzzle of standard asset pricing models being unable to explain rates through fundamentals alone. The model adds in a premium that can be viewed as reflecting liquidity by extending a standard exchange economy through the optimal use of bank supplied exchange credit. The paper contributes the closest fit to date of real interest rates in an exchange economy without liquidity elements added into the utility function. It explains business cycle filtered real ex-post interest rates, as well as procyclic output and labor. It also explains closely the actual level of real interest rates by adding back in the HP filtered trend. Three alternative shock construction methods are used and compared within this monetary business cycle framework that has a sparse set of shocks including bank productivity for the exchange credit sector. Results include robustness and sensitivity analysis such as comparison to a money-only economy. The Bayesian and iterative convergence methods yield a high correlation of the model implied real interest rate with data, and a relative volatility near one.
Ancestral Connections and Corporate Alliances: The Role of Culture in Mitigating Holdup (Z1, G4)
We study how culture works as an implicit incentive alignment mechanism to mitigate hold-up problems when firms form alliances. We measure ancestral connection between different areas using historical immigration from different countries to the U.S. and demonstrate its role in transmitting exogenous ideological shocks. We show that the ancestral composition of the area where firms locate influences their choices of alliance partners and new venture locations. Further, partners experience significantly better performance when the ancestral connection between their headquarters or between their inventors is stronger. Shared values and beliefs between firms’ key stakeholders likely underlie the role of ancestral connection.
Animal Spirits in Regulation: Evidence from Banking (G2, G4)
Are banking regulation and supervision consistent over time and space? We posit they are not, and that inconsistency in supervisory practice is influenced by variation in media sentiment toward banks. Further, we argue that this regulatory volatility is reflected in banks’ operational losses. We conjecture that this causal channel may lead to cyclicality in financial intermediation orthogonal to fundamentals.
To gauge variation in media sentiment toward banks, we perform sentiment analysis on a large textual corpus of US news publications; to measure regulatory response, we draw from proprietary Federal Reserve System data on confidential supervisory actions and bank operational losses, including legal damages, as well as court-docket information sourced from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts. Our empirical strategy relies on an IV approach to infer causality, using M&A activity among local media to instrument for potentially endogenous variation in media sentiment.
Are Historic Districts A Backdoor for Segregation? Yes and No (R2, J1)
Historic districts preserve the heritage of designated areas and increase the amenity for residents. However, these districts also come with restrictions and increased housing prices that could cause segregation. We study how two historic district programs impact residential segregation in Denver. We find that homebuyers are more likely to be White within historic districts, but that the official historic designation has no effect on this probability. More specifically, we calculate that the predicted probability of having a White homebuyer increases from 77 to over 80 percent when the home is located within a historic district. Similarly, we find that most transactions flow from White sellers to White buyers, regardless of official designation. Thus, while historic districts tend to be more segregated, official designation does not seem to amplify this existing problem.
Are Housing Rental Markets that Competitive? A Dynamic Monopoly Approach (D4, R0)
This paper develops a search model of the housing rental market with moving costs and imperfect information: the dynamic monopoly model. Landlords set the rent and, in equilibrium, there is an interval of rents charged for similar housing units, a consequence of landlords' market power. Within such interval, tenants turnover is higher the higher the rent charged, which results from a downward-sloping demand faced by individual landlords. The less elastic this demand is, the larger landlords' market power, and the larger the scope for public policy to regulate the market and improve efficiency. These implications are in stark contrast to those of the conventional perfect competition theory. Using data from the American Housing Survey, I create a data set of rental spells in New York City and estimate the average of that elasticity of demand, a measure of landlords' market power. To identify that estimate I use variation in rent that results from whether the housing units are rent controlled/stabilized, publicly owned or subsidized. The results suggest that the average NYC landlord has substantial market power. These findings are important for the public policy debate on housing inequalities, metropolitan housing crises and gentrification.
Are the Supporters of Socialism the Losers of Capitalism? Conformism in East Germany and Transition Success (P2, P3)
The empirical literature is inconclusive in whether democratization of a country goes together with a redistribution of economic resources (Acemoglu et al., 2015; Aidt et al., 2020). With newly available individual-level panel data on East Germany's socialist past, we analyze how former supporters and opponents of the system performed after reunification with the capitalist West. Opponents, who helped to overturn the communist system in the Peaceful Revolution, show increases in life satisfaction, income, and employment. Former members of the communist party and employees in the Stasi supervised area become less satisfied but have still higher incomes than the average East German population. The politically inactive silent majority lost strongly and show persistently lower levels of life satisfaction and labor market outcomes. Adverse effects are especially strong when individuals silently supported the communist system. Additional results show that conformism is also associated with political party preferences several decades after communism. The contribution to the literature on persistence of socialist elitism for economic outcomes are i) a novel dataset to analyze the results for the special case of East Germany, ii) the use of panel data to analyze differences in outcomes additionally to persistence effects, iii) the analysis of former dissidents of the system and their outcomes over a period of almost three decades. The paper relates to the economic literature on the long-lasting effects of socialism (Alesina and Fuchs-Schündeln, 2007; Becker, Mergele, and Woessmann, 2020) and the persistence of privileges of Communist elites (Geishecker and Haisken-DeNew, 2004; Vevcernik, 1995; Otrachshenko, Nikolova, and Popova, 2021).
Are You a Zombie? Machine Learning Methods to Classify Unviable Firms (G3, C5)
Using machine learning methods on high dimensional datasets of listed firms from Europe and the US, we develop a feature selection tool to categorize existing zombie firms and separate them from the non-zombies. In addition to confirming known variables, tree-based models allow us to find a new set of recurring and informative predictors that matter to capture tomorrow’s zombies. We find differences and similarities between zombie firms in Europe and the US over a crisis and non-crisis period and show that zombie status does not equal financial distress. Overall, these findings suggest that to examine the phenomenon of zombie companies a classification mechanism that outdoes conventional measures should be taken into account.
Assessing the Impact of COVID-19 on Trade: A Machine Learning Counterfactual Analysis (F1, O1)
By interpreting exporters’ dynamics as a complex learning process, this paper constitutes the first attempt to investigate the effectiveness of different Machine Learning (ML) techniques in predicting firms’ trade status. We focus on the probability of Colombian firms surviving in the export market under two different scenarios: a COVID-19 setting and a non-COVID-19 counterfactual situation. By comparing the resulting predictions, we estimate the individual treatment effect of the COVID-19 shock on firms’ outcomes. On average, we find that the COVID-19 shock decreased a firm’s probability of surviving in the export market by about 20$p.p.$ in April 2020. Finally, we use a Classification Analysis (CA) to uncover the exporters' characteristics determining higher COVID-19 effects.
Asset Growth and Bond Performance: The Collateral Channel (G1, G0)
The asset growth anomaly -- an inverse relationship between security performance and asset growth rates -- prevails not only in the equity market but also the corporate bond market. This can be attributed to risk and return tradeoff that bonds of high asset growth firms are better collateralized, driving lower default risk and expected return, or due to mispricing that investors under-estimate default probabilities of high asset growth issuers leading to a poor realized performance. We differentiate between these two possibilities by decomposing bond performance to yields and yield changes. We find that the underperformance of high asset growth bond issuers is mainly from the changes of bond yields. Among non-investment grade bonds where the anomaly effect is most intensive, the difference in bond performance caused of yield spread changes between extreme asset growth deciles is more than twice of the performance difference coming from yields spreads. We also show that bond issuers' collateral growth contributes significantly to the changes in yield spreads, and corroborating the mispricing interpretation, the collateral effect intensifies when bond market sentiment is high.
Asset Pricing In a World of Imperfect Foresight (G1, G4)
We consider a canonical asset pricing model, where agents with quadratic preferences are allowed to re-trade a limited set of securities over multiple periods, after which these securities expire, and agents consume their liquidation values. A key assumption in this model is that agents have perfect foresight: for all future contingencies, they correctly foresee the corresponding equilibrium prices. We show that, under myopia, prices generically are as if agents had perfect foresight. Yet their choices are wrong, because of neglected re-trading opportunities. In an experiment, we find both prices and choices to be consistent with myopia.
Asset Pricing with Option-Implied Consumption Growth (G1, E2)
Prompted by the asset pricing puzzles, particularly the equity premium puzzle (Mehra and Prescott, 1985) and the risk-free rate puzzle (Weil, 1989), the consumption-based asset pricing literature has been in search of more appropriate measures or models of consumption growth such that the resulted stochastic discount factors can be consistent with the asset returns for reasonable preference parameters. This paper shows that once the Epstein and Zin (1989) recursive preference, which is commonly used in the asset pricing literature, is assumed in a representative agent model, the market index option prices largely reveal the market subjective beliefs about the distribution of consumption growth and, thus, impose strong restrictions on the specification of consumption growth risk. The asset pricing with this option-implied consumption growth explains the data well. The model gives the data of option prices and stock returns enough flexibility in picking either a combination of low consumption risk and high risk aversion or a combination of high consumption risk and low risk aversion. The data indeed picks the latter with a risk aversion of 4.72, solving the equity premium puzzle. Moreover, the option-implied equity premium in real time predicts the future market returns better than the historical mean forecast as well as the popular predictors. The equilibrium risk-free rate not only matches the sample moments but also is highly (97%) correlated with the data. The model also implies a market conditional volatility in real time which not only matches the sample volatility on average but also predicts the future volatility much better than the lagged realized volatility or the option-implied risk-neutral volatility. Finally, the model also captures the dynamics of dividend-price ratio ratio and necessarily explains any asset pricing puzzles in the options market, e.g., the implied volatility skew, given that the option prices are taken as inputs.
Austerity and Young People's Political Attitudes in the U.K. (H5, F5)
This paper uses a triple difference-in-differences to study the impact of the 2012 British austerity policies on youth political attitudes. I do so by merging longitudinal survey data from Understanding Society with a district-level estimate of the austerity shock each individual was subject to over the years 2013 to 2015. I find that the welfare cuts led to a decrease in young people's interest in politics and the sense of satisfaction they get from voting. They are also more likely to believe they have no say in what the government does and feel their political influence has diminished. Overall, my results show that the British youth were at risk of higher political disenfranchisement following the implementation of the austerity measures.
Bad News, Good News: Coverage and Response Asymmetries (C3, E3)
We construct two measures of media coverage of bad and good unemployment figures based on three major US newspapers. Using nonlinear SVAR techniques, we document four facts. (i) There is no significant negativity bias in media coverage of economic events. The asymmetric responsiveness of newspapers to positive and negative economic shifts is entirely explained by the higher persistence of bad shocks. (ii) Bad news are more informative than good news. (iii) Bad news increase agents’ agreement about economic outcomes and modify their expectations more than good news. (iv) Consumption reacts to bad news, but not to good news.
Bank Capital Requirements, Lending Supply and Economic Activity (E3, G0)
We evaluate the relation between bank capital, lending supply and economic activity using
Italian data over 1993-2015, a period which covers three key post-crisis regulatory and supervisory
measures (the Basel III reform; the 2011 EBA Stress test; the ECB’s Comprehensive Assessment
and launch of the Single Supervisory Mechanism – SSM). We quantify the effects of increased
bank capital requirements adopting a novel procedure which recovers the size of the policy actions
relying on scenario analysis and Bayesian VARs with a rich characterization of the banking sector.
We document that the EBA and SSM measures unpredictably raised Tier 1 ratio by about 2.5
percentage points, leading to an average reduction in credit to firms and households by 5 and 4%,
respectively, and to a decline in real GDP by over 2 and 4%. The Basel III bank capital increase is
instead correctly anticipated in out-of-sample forecasting. These findings are robust to time-varying
model parameters and consistent with narrative sign restrictions techniques.
Bank Risk and Bank Rents: The Franchise Value Hypothesis Reconsidered (G2, G2)
The predictive relationship between banks' Tobin Q and a theory-based measure of bank risk of insolvency is highly non-linear. Using large samples of publicly quoted banks in the US, Europe, and Asia during 1985-2017, we find that higher values of Q predict lower bank risk of insolvency up to values of Q close to 1, but higher values of Q predict higher bank risk of insolvency when Q exceeds 1 and franchise value is priced. The franchise value hypothesis (FVH) postulating a negative relationship between bank rents and risk is thus rejected in our samples. We then construct proxy measures of bank efficiency rents, loan and deposit pricing power rents, and rents due to government guarantees as the potential sources of franchise value, and show that an increase of any if these rents associated with higher franchise values, hence they predict higher bank risk of insolvency. We provide an explanation of the rejection of the FVH using a calibration of two standard financial models of the banking firm, and a simple industry model with endogenous entry.
Bank Specialization and Zombie Lending (G2, G3)
Banks often specialize in lending to specific sectors and gain sector-specific information through having many interactions with borrowers from the same sector. We argue that such sectoral expertise also makes banks more aware of zombie firms in the sector as well as more knowledgeable about the negative impact that zombie firms exert on healthy borrowers. This induces specialized banks to reduce zombie lending. The reduction in zombie lending is larger when the scope and opportunity cost of negative spillovers to healthy borrowers is larger; namely, when the fraction of sectoral labor stuck in zombie firms is larger or when the sector is expected to grow faster. Additionally, specialized banks reduce zombie lending less in sectors with higher asset specificity, as zombie firms’ default (and potential asset fire sales) could trigger reductions in healthy borrowers’ collateral values
Banks, Shadow Banks, and Business Cycles (E3, G2)
Credit spreads on household and business loans move in lockstep and spike in every recession. We propose a theory as to why banks tighten their lending standards following a drop in market sentiment. The key feature is a procyclical shadow banking sector that shifts risk from traditional banks to investors through securitization. We fit the model to euro area data and find that market sentiment shocks are the main driver of business and financial cycles over the past two decades.
Better Safe than Sorry: The Impact of Green Card Delays on the Propensity of Foreign STEM Doctorates to Work at Startups (J6)
In October 2005, newly-binding country-specific green card quotas led to multiple-year delays in the processing of EB-2 permanent residency visa applications for Chinese and Indian doctorates. This created an incentive for Chinese and Indian doctorates to seek employment at established firms over startups as the former are generally less likely to shut down prior to the resolution of visa delays. Using a difference-in-differences approach, I find that temporary resident STEM doctorates subject to EB-2 delays were 7.2 percentage points (42%) less likely to work at a startup in their first decade of employment after the emergence of visa delays.
Biased News and Irrational Investors: Evidence from Biased Beliefs about Uncertainty and Information Acquisition (G1, G4)
Investors who use biased information from news media subsequently tend to make irrational decisions about acquiring firm-specific information compared to rational expectations. This model of information acquisition yields testable predictions that are verified by using a novel dataset of news stories. First, when sentiment in news articles, as a proxy for biased public information, is more optimistic, investors tend to acquire less earnings-relevant information before the earnings announcement and vice versa. Second, the return predictability from firm-specific news sentiment confirms that it contributes to variations in asset information risk due, in a biased belief equilibrium, to the proportion of informed investors deviating from rational expectations. Overall, these findings suggest that biased public information inherent in news sentiment serves to irrationalize investors’ acquisition of firm-specific information through a biased perception of uncertainties in the risky asset payoff.
Birds of a Feather Invest Together - The Effect of National Culture on Financial Decisions (Z1, G5)
The empirical finance literature has until recently ignored the relevance of cultural traits in explaining financial dimensions. However, it seems reasonable to assume that agents are influenced by their national culture while making investment decisions, allocating financial assets, and forming risk preferences. In fact, as highlighted by Zingales (2015) “homo economicus was embedded in a cultural context and this context affected people’s choices in a relevant way”.
This study seeks to understand the impact of national culture on asset allocation and investment decisions based on a cross-country analysis. We base our baseline analysis on OECD countries and rely on Hofstede’s (2001) six-dimension model as our primary source of national cultural traits. We determine the relationship between national cultural traits and financial decisions by conducting a cross-sectional analysis. To establish causality, we employ the empirical methodology recommended by Zingales (2015). Namely, we “isolate the cultural component of beliefs and preferences by instrumenting them with their cultural determinants”. We closely follow the implementation devised by Berger et al. (2020) and apply it to the “OECD Household’s Financial Assets and Liabilities database”. The database is available from 1995 to 2019 and provides internationally comparable asset allocation observations of household financial assets broken down into six main categories.
We find that, in more individualistic societies, households hold less currency and deposits and invest more in equity and mutual funds than in more collectivist societies. In nations characterized by a greater uncertainty avoidance index, households hold more currency and deposits, invest more in money market funds and bonds but less in equity and mutual funds. In countries in which the power is distributed unequally, households hold more currency and deposits and, unexpectedly, invest less in pension funds and life insurances.
Bond Financing Channel of Monetary Policy: Evidence from Chinese Bank Lending (E5)
Using granular loan-level data from China, this paper proposes the bond financing channel of monetary policy transmission. We study the lending behavior of the bank in response to funding costs fluctuation caused by monetary policy shock. The main findings show that tighter monetary policy would increase loan rate and loan spread through the bond financing channel. In addition, it would also reduce loan volume and increase loan quality. We also explore the heterogeneous effect of monetary policy shock. The pass-through of monetary policy is stronger in the tight monetary policy period, as well as in areas with lower level of economic development, weaker fiscal capacity, and smaller bank penetration.
Bond Pricing and Business Cycles with Central Bank Asset Purchases (E3, E5)
This paper studies the term premium in a general equilibrium model with a financial constraint and central bank asset purchases. Structural estimates of the term premium match past empirical measures. Term premium dynamics are policy dependent, with Federal Reserve quantitative easing programs reducing the term premium by 1.25% at peak and over 0.9% on average from 2009 to 2019. The model introduces household debt with a loan-in-advance constraint. Other models introduce household debt with relatively impatient agents. The loan-in-advance specification nests the relative impatience setup. Endogenous debt rollover under the loan-in-advance specification dampens the estimated effect of asset purchases on GDP.
Relative to past papers, I use a simple New Keynesian model to show how the term premium acts as an endogenous cost channel in the Phillips curve. Expected changes to the term premium act as a credit wedge in the IS curve. Current inflation is a function of the forward-looking paths of the output gap and term premium.
Structural estimates of the term premium are consistent with measures from Kim and Wright (2005) or Adrian, Crump, and Moench (2013). The loan-in-advance setup from this paper generalizes the "Four-equation New Keynesian Model" from Sims, Wu, and Zhang (2020), allowing the term premium to act as an endogenous source of propagation for non-financial shocks. Alternatively, under the four-equation setup, the term premium is only the origination point by which financial shocks propagate to the economy.
Finally, the loan-in-advance specification alters traditional forward guidance concerns in the New Keynesian literature. The presence of a financial wedge dampens the effect of forward guidance in the short- to medium-run, but does not alleviate long-run forward guidance perplexities common to the New Keynesian literature.
Born to Be Prime: Persistence in the U.S. Consumer Credit Market (G5, J0)
We document the presence of intragenerational persistence in the U.S. consumer credit market. We construct profiles of the evolution of individuals' credit outcomes for a considerable part of their life using a panel representative of the U.S. population with credit history. Differences in credit scores around the time of entry in the credit market are persistent and predict distinctive life-cycle trajectories in crucial credit outcomes, such as mortgages and revolving credit.
Bounding Omitted Variable Bias Using Auxiliary Data (C1, J0)
This paper provides an estimator to bound omitted variable bias using auxiliary data including proxies for the omitted variable. The R package (’bndovb’) implementing the estimator is provided. This estimator can complement popular methods, such as Altonji et al. (2005) and Oster (2019), which bound the omitted variable bias using the identifying assumption that the degree of selection in treatment due to an unobservable is smaller than selection in treatment due to observables. Compared to Altonji et al. (2005) and Oster (2019), this method does not require making such an assumption and therefore may provide a robust bound when a researcher does not have a good prior about the degree of omitted variable bias. In addition, this method does not suffer from a multiple solution issue. An empirical example of estimating the Mincerian wage regression using auxiliary data including proxies for cognitive
and noncognitive ability is provided.
Brahmin Left versus Merchant Right: Changing Political Cleavages in 21 Western Democracies, 1948-2020 (P1, P5)
This article sheds new light on the long-run evolution of political cleavages in 21 Western democracies. We exploit a new database on the socioeconomic determinants of the vote, covering more than 300 elections held between 1948 and 2020. In the 1950s and 1960s, the vote for social democratic, socialist, and affiliated parties was associated with lower-educated and low-income voters. It has gradually become associated with higher-educated voters, giving rise in the 2010s to a disconnection between the effects of income and education on the vote: higher-educated voters now vote for the “left,” while high-income voters continue to vote for the “right.” This transition has been accelerated by the rise of green and anti-immigration movements, whose distinctive feature is to concentrate the votes of the higher-educated and lower-educated electorates. Combining our database with historical data on political parties’ programs, we provide evidence that the reversal of the education cleavage is strongly linked to the emergence of a new “sociocultural” axis of political conflict.
Breaking the Sovereign-Bank Nexus (G2, E4)
This paper develops a quantitative dynamic general equilibrium model that features endogenous bank failure and sovereign default risk. It studies the feedback loop between sovereign and banking crises, and evaluates the effectiveness of bank capital regulation in addressing it. In the model, bank failure contributes to an increase of sovereign default risk through the government bailout of bank creditors. Meanwhile, holding high-yield risky sovereign bonds may be attractive to banks protected by limited liability. By increasing banks' failure risk and their funding costs, sovereign exposures hurt bank lending and contribute to further contractions in aggregate economic activity. Capital requirements shape banks' incentives to invest in sovereign debt. More stringent capital regulation makes banks safer, weakening the sovereign-bank nexus. This comes at the cost of constraining the overall supply of credit.
Burn Coal or Go Electric? A Randomized Field Experiment (Q5, D1)
Coal heating in residential houses is an important source of indoor and outdoor air pollution, with damaging health consequences. We conduct a randomized field experiment to investigate the potential obstacles to electric heating involving three types of SMS campaign. These experiments allow us to examine the impact of electricity costs, health damages, and social information on the heating choices of neighbours for households in rural villages in northern China. We find that when households are given accurate feedback on electricity expenses, the usage of electric heating decreases substantially; the effect is most profound for households that are concerned about energy costs due to the salience bias. We find that health SMS and social comparison type SMS are only effective for households that are concerned about the health damage from coal heating or the decision of others.
Can a ‘Pet’ Take a Bite Out of the Savings Shortfall? (D9, G4)
This paper explores the potential for gamification to develop and nurture a saving habit among Americans. Students are introduced to ‘pet’ savings accounts that require continual care. The owners of these ‘pets’ are reminded periodically to feed them at the touch of a button, with positive reinforcement built in. The feeding of the digital savings pets is linked to an actual bank account, automatically transferring funds from a checking account to a dedicated savings account. The amount of money needed to feed the pet is small — several dollars a day — to help reframe the problem and reduce loss aversion. Converting the process of saving for retirement into one of caring for a pet today changes the reference point for individuals. Savers check in on their pets by getting indicators of their portfolio performance, translated into easily understood communication. The savings ‘pets’ will be launched among students at a university, to provide a proof of concept. Results will analyze the success of this approach in increasing saving accumulations among students, and evaluate its promise for tackling the savings shortfall among Americans.
Can Air Pollution Save Lives? The Impacts of Air Quality on Risky Behavior (I1, Q5)
In this paper, we find a rare “benefit” of air pollution: reducing the number of road accidents. Although studies have documented that elevated air pollution increases the number of traffic accidents and argued that impaired cognition is the main channel of such impact. Still, medical studies have found evidence showing that exposure to air pollution can increase the levels of stress hormone cortisol and make individuals more risk averse. We therefore hypothesize that air pollution can affect road safety through both cognitive impairment and higher level of risk aversion, where the former and latter would increase and decrease the number of accidents, respectively. Using the administrative individual-level traffic accident data from Taiwan between 2009 and 2015, this paper investigates the effect of air pollution on the number of traffic accidents with casualties. To treat the endogeneity between air quality and the number of traffic accidents, we use wind direction as an instrument variable to introduce exogenous variation in the level of air pollution. In addition, we apply a land-use regression model accounting for population, elevation, and emission data to interpolate 3km*3km level air quality data. Our results show that a 1 ug/m3 increase in PM2.5 concentration leads to a 0.3 – 0.5% reduction in the number of accidents associated with rule violations and a 0.3 – 0.6% reduction in speeding violations. However, the impacts of elevated air pollution on the number of accidents associated with carelessness and errors as well as violations that are “less risky,” such as illegal parking, are imprecisely estimated. These findings suggest that air pollution can save lives through less risky behavior. Moreover, those negative effects on violations are stronger among non-enclosed vehicle drivers, such as motorcyclists, so we argue that direct exposure is the main mechanism explaining how air pollution affect road use behavior.
Can Mentoring Alleviate Family Disadvantage in Adolescence? A Field Experiment to Improve Labor-Market Prospects (I2, J2)
We study a mentoring program that aims to improve the labor-market prospects of schoolattending adolescents from disadvantaged families by offering them a university-student mentor. Our RCT investigates program effectiveness on three outcome dimensions that are highly predictive of adolescents’ later labor-market success: math grades, patience/social skills, and labor-market orientation. For low-SES adolescents, the one-to-one mentoring increases a combined index of the outcomes by half a standard deviation after one year, with significant increases in each dimension. Part of the treatment effect is mediated by establishing mentors as attachment figures who provide guidance for the future. The mentoring is not effective for higherSES adolescents. The results show that substituting lacking family support by other adults can help disadvantaged children at adolescent age.
Can Stay-at-Home Orders Create a Pandemic Housing Boom? (R1, R3)
We study how stay-at-home and shelter-in-place orders, imposed in the U.S. due to the COVID-19 outbreak, affected housing markets. We exploit county-level variation in the intervention dates to study the effect of these interventions on outcomes (prices, sales, and vacancies) both across and within housing markets. We use the ZTRAX transaction-level data and difference-in-difference strategy to show that stay-at-home orders significantly reduced home price and sales during the stay-at-home orders. Once the stay-at-home orders were lifted, prices and sales temporarily increased. Then the market recovery from the stay-at-home orders induced a housing and construction boom. We explain it with a search and matching model, in which increased search costs lead to lower prices and sales.
Can Whistleblowers Root Out Public Expenditure Fraud? Evidence from Medicare (I1, H4)
This paper analyzes private anti-fraud enforcement under the False Claims Act, which compensates whistleblowers for litigating against firms that overbill the government. I analyze several case studies of large, successfully prosecuted whistleblower lawsuits from the Medicare program, pairing new data on whistleblower lawsuits with large samples of Medicare Fee-for-Service claims from 1999 – 2016. I estimate that deterrence from $1.9 billion in whistleblower settlements generated future cost savings of nearly $19 billion, while imposing relatively few costs on the federal government. In a case study of fraudulent spine surgery, whistleblower-induced changes to care modestly improved patient health. These results suggest private enforcement by whistleblowers is a cost-effective way to combat public expenditure fraud.
Capital Allocation, the Leverage Ratio Requirement and Banks' Risk-Taking (G2, G0)
This paper examines how the level (ie group or business unit level) at which regulatory requirements are applied affects banks’ asset risk. We develop a theoretical model and calibrate it to UK banks. Our main finding is that the impact differs depending on which regulatory constraint is binding at the group consolidated level. If that is the leverage ratio requirement, then the allocation of regulatory constraints to business units either maintains or decreases the riskiness of banks’ investment portfolios. However, if the risk-weighted requirement is the binding constraint at the group level, applying regulatory requirements at the business unit level can lead to banks selecting riskier asset portfolios as optimal. We also find that the impact on banks’ asset risk differs across bank business models.
Causal Study Design: A Synthetic Control Approach to Evaluating Bangladesh’s Remittance Incentive Program (E6, G2)
This paper designs a causal study to explore Bangladesh’s 2% remittance incentive program on formal channel remittances. Globally, remittances are the most significant mechanism of foreign financial inflows with an estimated $550 billion sent annually. Globally, remittances surpass international development aid by three-fold and marginally outperform foreign direct investment as the primary form of foreign financing. There is clear empirical support for the impact remittances have on elevating individuals out of poverty. With an approximately 25% poverty rate in Bangladesh, the opportunity to amplify remittances that specifically target Bangladesh’s poor is a compelling opportunity. The 2% incentive program is a 53% reduction in the average 3.75% transaction fee that most Bangladeshi foreign nationals pay to remit. This could translate to anywhere between a 13% and 85% increase in overall remittances - with the higher outcome nearly doubling overall remittance inflows. Through the use of the synthetic control method, this paper has designed a comparative case study to establish the initial phases in evaluating the causal effect Bangladesh’s remittance incentive policy has on overall remittances compared to a synthetic control unit. The result of this paper was an empirical model that closely balanced key covariates, matched synthetic remittances with real remittances during the pre-treatment period, and tested the robustness of the model against control unit bias, covariate bias, and unmeasured covariate impacts. The strength of this paper is in its ability to maintain blindness to outcomes thereby preserving one of the most important causal comparative studies principles.
Central Bank Digital Currency and Quantitative Easing (E5, G2)
We study how the introduction of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) interacts with ongoing monetary policies. We distinguish two policies: standard policy, where the central bank holds treasuries, and quantitative easing, where the central bank holds risky securities. We introduce an interest-bearing CBDC in each scenario and study the equilibrium allocations. We reach three main conclusions. First, the equilibrium impact of a CBDC depends on the ongoing monetary policy. Second, when the central bank conducts quantitative easing, the introduction of a CBDC is neutral under two conditions: the cost of issuing a CBDC is equal to the interest on reserves, and the demand for CBDC deposits is smaller than the amount of excess reserves in the system. Third, the introduction of a CBDC might render quantitative easing a quasi-permanent policy, as commercial banks optimally use their excess reserves to accommodate retailers' demand for switching from bank to CBDC deposits.
Central Bank Digital Currency in Brazil (E5, G2)
Digital currencies---Central Bank backed digital payment instruments---pose several tradeoffs including the removal of anonymity that characterizes the use of cash. We study the implications of this trade-off in terms of credit, output, and welfare in the context of an emerging market, Brazil, where concerns are particularly pronounced. We consider a model of means of payment choices and households with different preferences over anonymous cash, non-anonymous deposits, and a digital currency overseen by a central authority that can choose the anonymity level. The financial sector is monopolistically competitive breaking the link between borrowing and lending rates. Calibrating the model to Brazil, we show that a sufficiently attractive digital currency reduces the holdings of both cash and bank deposits. Since the use of cash is costly, the use of the digital currency may increase welfare. However, if banks are liquidity constrained, the digital currency may result in lower credit and output leading to a reduction in welfare. We show that the digital currency interest remuneration can be set optimally to balance this trade-off dominating other policy choices.
Centralized Admission Systems and School Segregation: Evidence from a National Reform (I2)
This paper investigates whether the adoption of a centralized school admission system can alter within-school socio-economic diversity. We assess the importance of two factors: residential segregation and outside options. In theory, both have the potential to increase school segregation under centralized systems. We provide evidence confirming this premise. We take advantage of the largest school-admission reform implemented to date: Chile’s SAS, which in 2016 replaced the country’s decentralized system with a Deferred Acceptance algorithm. We exploit its sequential introduction across regions to quantify its heterogeneous impact on segregation. The empirical analysis is carried out using administrative data and a Difference-in-Difference strategy. SAS increased within-school segregation in areas with high levels of pre-existing residential segregation. School districts with the higher provision of private education experienced an uptick in school segregation as well. The migration of high-SES students to private schools emerges as a driver.
CEO International Background and Cross-Border M&As (G3, G4)
We investigate if having a CEO with an international background affects U.S. firms’ cross-border merger and acquisition (M&A) activities. By defining international background as having non-U.S. nationality, overseas education, foreign work experience, or combinations of these, we find that when a CEO has these characteristics, the firm is more likely to acquire international targets, and these deals are more value-enhancing. Moreover, our results indicate that having multiple international characteristics increases the likelihood and announcement returns of cross-border deals. The observed gains are related to the mitigating effect on due diligence, acquisition premium, and the financing of these deals mostly with equity. Additionally, CEOs with an international background realize most of the gains from conducting cross-border deals when the deals are announced within five years of their tenure as CEO of the firm. This suggests that U.S. firms are aware of the advantages that an international background provides. We address potential endogeneity concerns and our results are robust to alternate definitions of international background, a placebo test, and within-firm analysis.
Child Health and Parental Responses to an Unconditional Cash Transfer at Birth (I1, I3)
Baby Bonuses have been criticized for potentially harming unborn children because of strategic birth-shifting. Surprisingly little is known about the health consequences of unconditional cash transfers tied to the birth of a child. We estimate the causal impact of the unanticipated introduction of the Australian Baby Bonus (ABB) on child health from birth until age 5, using hospital and emergency room records linked to birth certificates and perinatal data from South Australia. We find that treated babies had fewer preventable, acute, and urgent hospital presentations, medical care that is accessible without copayments, in the first two years of life. In the second year of life, the ABB increased demand for elective care, which requires medical referrals and entails co-payments. Our findings suggest that the ABB improved child health through increased parental health investments, especially among disadvantaged families. Back-of-the-envelope calculations indicate that up to 34% of the ABB payouts were recouped within the first year of life of the beneficiary child due to improved health.
China's Economic Development under Currency Intervention (E5, O1)
During the recent two decades, the spectacular economic growth of China has been under increasing scrutiny in the literature. However, prevailing discourses have either evaluated the causes/effects of the RMB exchange rate misalignment or theorized the investment/speculation channels. The implication of the Chinese-style currency intervention (CI) regime on economic development, in comparison, remains one of the most contentious subjects in international economics. To shed light on this issue, this research develops a new macroeconomic model to address the two core attributes of the Chinese economy during CI: the stagnant adjustment of the capital markets and the fast liberalization of the commodity markets. It investigates the impacts of macroeconomic controls on output growths and price levels from multiple aspects and makes several striking discoveries in opposition to key postulations of standard macroeconomic models. It also conducts a case study to examine China’s economic development during CI.
China’s Rebalancing and Gender Inequality (J1, E2)
This paper examines gender inequality in the context of structural change and rebalancing in China. In contrast with the predictions of the standard structural transformation literature, which suggest that rising service sector share is associated with narrowing gender gaps, we document that women’s relative wages and labor force participation in China have declined significantly during the last two decades. We provide a set of explanations for this finding. First, using household-level data, we show that women’s labor supply elasticity to spouse’s wages has increased dramatically between 1995 and 2013. This evidence is consistent with a U-shaped relationship between economic development and female labor force participation found in the literature. Second, using a theoretical model of structural transformation, we show that labor market wedges have increased over time, negatively impacting both women’s relative hours and earnings, which could in part be due to worsening employer discrimination and lack of affordable childcare options. Model counterfactuals suggest that removing discriminatory practices against women in the labor market and raising service sector productivity can boost both gender equality and economic growth in China.
Class Rank and Sibling Spillover Effects (I2, D1)
Siblings are perhaps the most important childhood peers, yet we know little about sibling spillover effects on school achievement and their potential mechanisms. I estimate the effect of children’s rank in primary school on their younger sibling’s schooling outcomes using administrative records from the Netherlands. In this setting, variation in sibling rank is credibly exogenous and isolates sibling spillovers driven by behavioral and psychological mechanisms, as opposed to direct transmission of human capital. A 1SD increase in child rank in test scores increases their younger sibling’s test scores by 4.3 percent of a standard deviation, showing that behavioral mechanisms in sibling spillovers are empirically relevant. However, child rank also increases the chance that their sibling is recommended for the academic school track by 5 percent, even after accounting for younger sibling’s test scores. This recommendation is given exclusively by teachers, suggesting that teachers track children based on arguably meaningless information on their siblings. I argue that this is a form of teacher bias in expectation formation and show that it only occurs for non-migrant children. This points towards cultural proximity as an important factor in the formation of biased expectations, widening achievement gaps between migrant and non-migrant children. Overall, my findings show that school inputs can be important drivers of within-family human capital spillovers.
Cognitive Skills among Adults: An Impeding Factor for Gender Convergence? (J1, I2)
This paper investigates patterns in the distribution of cognitive skills among adult women and men. These are primarily measured by standardized numeracy tests in the international PIAAC survey. In line with observed rising educational equality, we report that the gender numeracy skill gap is lower for younger individuals. We document that field of study and being a parent explain the lower skill levels of women. Further, we show that women with the highest numeracy levels experience lower returns to skills compared to similarly-skilled men. These findings explain part of the gender pay gap and point at the mechanisms that create inequalities in the accumulation of skills, understanding which helps shaping policies to preserve human capital and address implicit gender discrimination.
College Education and Income Contingent Loans in Equilibrium (E6, I2)
We investigate the welfare implications of income-contingent loans (ICLs) used for financing college education in the presence of endogenous dropout risk. While providing insurance through ICLs increases college enrollment, it also generates a moral hazard cost of lowering educational effort and labor hours. We evaluate this insurance-incentives trade-off in a heterogeneous agent OLG life-cycle model calibrated to the US. We show that ICLs significantly increase welfare, the social cost of moral hazard is mild, the endogeneity of skill premium significantly reduces effectiveness of ICLs and that the non-linear repayment schedule is essential to delivering high welfare gains.
Collusion and Land Market Auctions (H7, K4)
This paper investigates the presence of collusion in auctions. Using a unique institutional feature of China's land market, we compare two formats of auctions and find that the two-stage auction generates a much lower price than the English auction. We exploit an exogenous variation created by an anti-corruption campaign to show that "corrupted" officials chose the two-stage auction less often during the inspection. Thus corruption can explain the price difference. We further document the existence of another type of collusion by showing that the security deposit rate has a reverse-U shape impact on the transaction price. Bidder collusion can explain the low price in the lower end of the security deposit rate axis, and corruption can rationalize the low price on the other end. We also find evidence consistent with the presence of a bid rotation scheme by showing a positive correlation between the closeness of firms and the timing of when they won the land parcels.
Combining Financial Incentives with Nudges to Increase Preschool Parental Engagement (I2, D1)
Disadvantaged children arrive at kindergarten behind their more advantaged peers in indicators of school readiness. Previous research shows that family engagement is a crucial aspect to improving child outcomes. As such, Head Start and other publicly supported preschools are required to spend substantial funds promoting family engagement. In order to increase parental attendance at school-sponsored family-engagement events, we designed an intervention using a combination of financial incentives and tools from behavioral economics. Our intervention was a 17-week Randomized Control Trial (RCT) with 319 parents across 6 preschools in Chicago. The treatment group was given a $25 per event incentive to attend 8 events sponsored by their preschool, as well as weekly text message reminders of the events. The financial incentive was framed using loss aversion, where the parents were given $200 in a virtual account, and lost $25 for missing each event. The overall likelihood of attending an event was 12.8% in the control group and 16.4% in the treatment group, representing a 28% increase. There was little heterogeneity by event time and type. Attendance was not substantially higher for events later in the day, where work conflicts are less likely to arise. While this increase is substantial in relative terms, the fact that the absolute level of attendance was still less than 20% despite high incentives in the treatment group might imply that parents put little value on such school-sponsored events.
Commitment and Conflict in Multilateral Bargaining (C7, D7)
We extend the Baron and Ferejohn (1989) model of multilateral bargaining, allowing players to take an aggressive bargaining posture by attempting to commit to a bargaining position prior to negotiating. Any such attempted commitment fails with an exogeneously given probability. If successful, commitment binds a player to reject any proposal which allocates to her a share below a self-imposed threshold. We characterize the symmetric stationary subgame perfect equilibria. Under unanimity rule, there are potentially many equilibria which can be ordered from the least to most inefficient, according to how many commitment attempts must fail in order for an agreement to arise. The most inefficient equilibrium exists independently of the number of players. More efficient commitment profiles cannot be sustained in equilibrium if the number of players is sufficiently large. Expected delay increases (setwise) with the number of players. Under any (super)majority rule, the unique equilibrium is efficient. The results suggest that the unanimity rule is particularly damaging if the number of legislators is large and the time lags between consecutive sessions are long.
Common Knowledge and Collective Action on Directed Communication Networks: Models and Experimental Findings (C7, D8)
Social media platforms are critical tools in organizing collective action, such as the Occupy Wall Street protests and the Arab Spring, and more recent Black Lives Matter protests, and the 2021 Storming of the US Capitol. In collective action problems, individuals are willing to participate if there is a sufficient number of other participants, and this requires that individuals know about each other's willingness to participate (threshold) and that this information is common knowledge (CK). Social networks can help the spread of information and facilitate CK and coordination, making collective action possible.
In this paper, we propose game-theoretic models of collective action on Twitter and Facebook communication networks. We model collective action as a coordination game in which individuals post their thresholds. Our goal is to understand how actionable information spreads locally on social media platforms and to theoretically characterize the necessary and sufficient conditions for CK and the minimal substructures necessary for CK to occur. Previous models of CK and collective action (Chwe 1999, 2000) assume that the network structure is commonly known by everyone. We characterize the communication patterns that facilitate CK and coordination where the network structure is (i) known by everyone, and (ii) locally known. A model of collective action on Facebook (Korkmaz et al. 2014) assumes that communication is undirected. Our model relaxes the assumption of bidirectional communication and assumes that communication can occur in one direction. Prior works do not discuss CK on Twitter-type communication networks, and this work proposes game-theoretic models of CK on Twitter networks, focused on Twitter “retweets”.
To test the predictions of the models, we conduct human subject experiments to identify the effects of both network structure and communication on CK. We find that in networks that satisfy our theoretic predictions, a higher number of participants choose to participate.
Competition and Corruption: Highway Corruption in West Africa (K4, O1)
Petty corruption in the developing world impedes citizens from receiving public services
and operating their businesses. In this paper, we show the importance of market structure
in determining a corruption equilibrium. We do this in the context of highway merchandise
transportation in West Africa, where checkpoint officials frequently stop truck drivers for petty bribes. We exploit a road system with two alternative corridors to develop a model which
predicts that checkpoints in the two competing corridors follow a Bertrand game as they set
price equal to the marginal cost. Moreover, when costs to pass through one corridor increase
due to road construction, checkpoints in the other corridor raise prices and keep drivers waiting for longer. We estimate a difference-in-differences model to conrm that road construction did increase both bribes and enforced delays for stops in the unaffected corridor.
This work demonstrates the importance of competition among corrupted officials to facilitate public services for drivers and suggests that the effectiveness of a local intervention can be oset by reallocating customers towards officials who are not affected by it.
Compression as an Alternative to Central Clearing (G2, G0)
In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, regulators have turned to central clearing in an effort to reduce systemic risk. As part of the 2009 Pittsburgh Summit, the G20 leaders agreed that standardized over-the-counter (OTC) derivative contracts “should be traded on exchanges or electronic trading platforms, where appropriate, and cleared through central counterparties” (G20 Leaders 2009).
However, central clearing is not without its downsides. Having all trades routed through a single central counterparty (CCP) mechanically introduces a systemically important participant which itself may require more regulatory oversight. Furthermore, the failure of the CCP could have disastrous consequences for the entire market. The loss sharing mechanisms designed to reduce risk also introduce moral hazard problems for market participants. Margin requirements may be excessive, especially in the presence of multiple CCPs across markets (Duffie 2011).
In this paper, we first develop a tractable model for analyzing the risk structure of different bilateral networks with the same net exposures, and study the implications for systemic risk. We conduct counterfactual analyses based on the current market structure of foreign exchange swaps. We find that a slight modification of trade compression can mimic many of the desirable features of central clearing, and in some cases address the limitations of central clearing as well. Specifically, we show that including intermediary financial agents taking both long and short positions with different counterparties can result in many of the risk-sharing benefits of a centrally cleared market.
Our findings suggest trade compression is a viable alternative to CCPs for markets where central clearing is impossible, such as cross-border markets or markets where similar but not identical products are traded. Furthermore, as the post-compression market is still a bilateral market, and compression ultimately requires consent from all parties involved, compression is not as likely to introduce moral hazard problems.
Consensus Among Economists in 2020 - A Sharpening of the Picture (A1)
Based on an extensive survey research of American Economic Association (AEA) members, this paper updates previous work that has been conducted roughly every decade since the 1970's. Economists are asked about their level of agreement with 46 economic propositions. Using a number of measures to classify the distribution of responses, the study is able to discern areas where economists show consensus, but also areas where economists' consensus has shifted over time. Previous research has shown that economists show the strongest consensus for propositions that deal with the global economy and free trade. Historically, the least consensus is found for macroeconomic propositions. The 2020 survey keeps almost half of the propositions identical to the initial surveys conducted in the late 1970's, 1990, 2000 and 2011. The most striking result is an increased consensus on many economic propositions, specifically the appropriate role of fiscal policy in macroeconomics and issues surrounding income distribution. Economists now embrace the role of fiscal policy in a way not obvious in previous surveys and are largely supportive of government policies that mitigate income inequality. Another area of consensus is concern with climate change and the use of appropriate policy tools to address climate change.
Contagion, Migration and Misallocation in a Pandemic (I1, E6)
We present a multi-city migration model to study the endogenous choices of migration during a pandemic and to evaluate various policy alternatives as well. Analytical solutions are provided under the two situations respectively: laissez-faire equilibrium and social optimum. We find that migration rates diverge under these two situations, especially for the infected people. We also provide a new cross-country empirical fact that countries with higher COVID-19 mortality disparity across sub-regions tend to have lower nationwide mortality rates. This new fact is inconsistent with the prediction of the traditional misallocation literature, nevertheless is aligned with our theoretical model, which can be seen as an extension of the misallocation framework with cross-region contagion and externality. In addition, through numerical analyses we observe that the total social welfare can be increased by up to 2% in two-week time span with better policies. This research can shed light on policy design under pandemic threat and also help to enrich the misallocation literature.
Corporate Social Responsibility and Financial Reporting Quality (G3, M0)
This paper studies the relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and financial reporting quality. Our findings based on a data sample over the period from 1991 to 2018 confirm a positive relationship between CSR and reporting quality and demonstrate that firms with higher levels of corporate social responsibility investment are associated with higher accuracy of financial forecasts, fewer earnings surprises, and greater coverage by financial analysts. Empirical results hold after we account for potential endogeneity in this relationship. Additional analyses reveal that the positive relationship between CSR and financial reporting quality is stronger for firms that face low agency concerns, and firms that have a higher level of customer awareness and more long-term institutional ownership. We also find that when firms are financially unconstrained, the link between CSR investments financial reporting quality becomes stronger. Finally, we document that firms with higher CSR and better financial reporting are more likely to experience lower risk and higher levels of information disclosure. The evidence supports the stakeholder value maximization view of CSR and identifies the areas
of positive impact of CSR investment at a firm.
Cost of Research and Education Activities in Us Colleges - Scalability, Complementarity, and Heterogeneous Efficiency (I2)
Universities in the United States are remarkably diverse in their efficiency, both in terms of research output and educational achievement. In the existing literature, the heterogeneity is under-explored due to the lack of appropriate data and methodological limitations. In this paper, we address this by exploiting a newly consolidated dataset and adopting a neural-network-based method to infer cost functions for universities. Our analyses reveal that there are substantial efficiency differences across universities. Particularly, we show that while both research and education outputs generally exhibit an economy of scale, their scalability largely depends on the size and other institutional characteristics. Similarly, research and education activities are complementary to each other (economy of scope) only when the scales of productions are small to medium. Furthermore, the empirical cost isoclines of universities can be non-convex which leads to important policy implications, including diverse optimal portfolios and specialization. In short, our fully data-driven analysis suggests that model assumptions need empirical validation.
Could Intra-Firm Informational Misalignment Explain Price-Setting Patterns? (E3, D8)
We propose a simple model for firm's pricing decision, based on the interplay between communication within firm and the provision of incentives. Such mechanism, endogenously, generates discrete prices and explain price stickiness even though there is no cost on adjusting prices or acquiring information. We embed this firm structure in a multi-sector general equilibrium model and derive a new Phillips curve where the misalignment of incentives and the number of divisions of a given firm drive the slope of the Phillips curve, exposing a new channel to monetary policy and illustrating its impact. Empirically, we take the model into a new retail daily database across countries and supermarkets to stress the relationship between within firm incentives and price-setting discussion, providing an empirical estimation of the theoretical mechanism. Our model matches the moments of microeconomic evidence on price-setting, as well as the macro-impact of real effect of monetary policy.
Covered Bonds and Bank Portfolio Rebalancing (G2, G3)
We use administrative and supervisory data at the bank-, loan- and firm-level to investigate the impact of covered bond issuances on bank lending and real economic outcomes. We show that the introduction of covered bonds leads to a rebalancing of bank portfolios from mortgages to corporate loans. We provide a theoretical framework for analyzing the impact of covered bonds on bank portfolio allocation, and highlight two opposing forces: On the one hand, covered bonds encourage banks to issue more mortgage loans due to lower funding costs. On the other hand, covered bonds enhance the liquidity of existing mortgages which allow banks to substitute mortgages with riskier corporate lending for higher yields. If initial bank liquidity is sufficiently low, the latter mechanism dominates. We provide empirical support for this by showing that the observed portfolio reallocation is driven by low-liquid banks. The increase in corporate credit leads to more favorable outcomes at the firm-level.
COVID-19 Epidemic and Generational Welfare (E6)
We study the effects of COVID-19, and the ensuing lockdown and fiscal policies, on the welfare of different age-groups within a life-cycle macroeconomic scheme, adapted from Gertler (1999), where the pandemic is represented as a shock to the mortality rate. We obtain two main results. First, we can show that lockdown policies have a negative impact on the dynamics of economic welfare of younger agents relative to that of older agents, thus providing analytical support to the idea that the management of the COVID-19 pandemic through lockdown policies has hit mainly the young generations. Second, we show that expansionary fiscal policies aimed at supporting income after the lockdown affect the relative welfare index of age-groups mainly through the repayment scheme of the consequent public debt; the more the repayment scheme entails a postponement of the debt repayment, the more older agents are favored (in relative terms).
COVID-19, Housing Prices and Macroprudential Policies (E4, E5)
The COVID-19 crisis has been unprecedented in many angles. Unlike the 2008 global financial crisis, this crisis came from real factors caused by lockdown measures. Theoretically, in times of recession, when businesses close, unemployment rises and uncertainty prevails, house prices should be falling. However, unexpectedly, the lockdown effects and the easing of monetary policy have unevenly impacted consumers and sectors. This has provoked a redistribution towards housing, which has translated into an increase in house prices. In this context, the composition of policies to shape the recovery should take into account a coherent mix between monetary and macroprudential policies. This paper builds a multi-sector DSGE model, which features a housing market. Consumers are divided into savers and borrowers. Borrowers need collateral to obtain loans. Macroprudential policies are represented through changes in loan-to-value ratios. First, we use the model to assess how corona-shocks affect both the macroeconomy and housing markets. Then, we study the optimal monetary-macroprudential combination of policies to increase production without compromising financial stability.
COVID-19, Policy Interventions and Credit: The Brazilian Experience (G2, H7)
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a global health and economic crisis to which governments responded with massive policy interventions. Using Brazil as a testing ground, we investigate the influence of the pandemic and ensuing policy interventions on local credit markets. First, we find that the pandemic has a significantly negative impact on local credit. Second, using a novel manually collected database on the staggered municipal government policy interventions, we show heterogenous effects of interventions: positive effects of soft interventions (e.g., social distancing and mass gathering restrictions) and late reopening, and negative effects of hard interventions (e.g., closure of non-essential services) and early reopening. Third, we find that state-owned banks grant more local credit than privately owned banks during the COVID-19 crisis but this difference is less pronounced than it was in the 2008 Financial Crisis. We confirm our results using pre-pandemic local political preference as instrument for policy interventions and orthogonalized policy intervention indicators, and in placebo tests.
Credit Constraints and Quantitative Easing (E5, E4)
This paper studies the effectiveness of quantitative easing (QE) in a framework that features credit-constrained agents. In particular, we assess the strength of the portfolio re-balancing channel of QE. Following asset purchases, a portfolio adjustment cost limits the ability of the unconstrained agents to arbitrage assets in their portfolios, thus creating a channel for QE to manifest in the real economy. The strength of this channel is, thus, dependent on the share of the unconstrained agents who intertemporally substitute in response to changes in relative asset prices. We show that a rise in the share of the constrained agents, who own no assets, dampens the strength of the portfolio re-balancing channel, thereby limiting the effectiveness of quantitative easing.
Credit expansion and diligent banks (G2)
This paper studies the effect of credit expansion on firm capital allocation, banks stability, and aggregate productivity and employment. We exploit a quasi-experimental setting generated by a regulatory change in India's PSL program eligibility cutoff. Comparing profiles of firms around the cutoff, we find that the credit expansion targets financially constrained firms and firms with a higher pre-treatment rate of return. We provide evidence of banks' significance in funneling the resources to those firms.
We also document that banks reacted to the credit expansion with a sturdy balance sheet that was not accompanied by more risk-taking. In particular, banks acting on the policy change responded with a lower NPA and higher Tier 1 capital adequacy ratio. Finally, on an aggregate level, we show that credit expansion decreased the dispersion in the marginal product of capital across firms and increased aggregate employment.
Creditor Rights, Collateral Reuse, and Credit Supply (G2, G5)
Utilizing a change to bankruptcy treatment of repo collateral, I provide causal evidence that strengthened creditor rights increase credit supply and financial instability by increasing the reuse of collateral. I use the 2000’s housing boom and bust as a laboratory and collect data linking dealers’ repledgeable collateral to their lending to mortgage companies. Exposed dealers increased their repledgeable collateral and credit provision to mortgage companies. Mortgage companies responded by increasing originations and pivoting toward non-traditional products. I estimate that the expansion in credit drove a 9% increase in originations and accounted for 38% of defaults on mortgages originated during 2005-2006, consistent with a financial accelerator. This paper changes our understanding of the size of the money creation generated in the repo markets.
Crime and (a Preference for) Punishment: The Effects of Drug Policy Reform on Policing Activity (K0, H0)
Every state imposes harsher punishments for drug offenses committed near schools. These “drug-free school zones” (DFSZs) aim to deter crime from entering schoolyards, but they can also give significant discretionary power to police, as they can expose offenders to additional risk for the same criminal activity. I exploit a sudden reduction in DFSZ size in order to examine offender and enforcement behavior and find an 18% decrease in drug arrests in “de-zoned” areas one year after the reform. There is no displacement of non-drug offenses and majority black neighborhoods have a larger decline in drug arrests. If offenders were significantly deterred by harsher penalties, as the law intended and Becker’s (1968) model predicts, there should be an increase in drug arrests. I therefore conclude that police respond to changes in punishment, where punishment severity and enforcement effort are complementary. Additionally, two concerns commonly associated with the “War on Drugs”view of weakening drug crime penalties, crime displacement and an increase in drug use, are not substantiated in this setting.
Cross-Border Institutions and the Globalization of Innovation (O3, F6)
We identify strong cross-border institutions as a driver for the globalization of innovation. Using 67 million patents from over 100 patent offices, we introduce novel measures of innovation diffusion and collaboration. Exploiting staggered bilateral investment treaties as shocks to cross-border property rights and contract enforcement, we show that signatory countries increase technology adoption and sourcing from each other. They also increase R\&D collaborations. These interactions result in technological convergence. The effects are particularly strong for process innovation, and for countries that are technological laggards or have weak domestic institutions. Increased inter-firm rather than intra-firm foreign investment is the key channel.
Crowding Out the Shadow: Effect of School Construction on Private Supplementary Education in Taiwan (I2, H5)
Scholars have long argued that the availability of schools (or the lack of them) is one of the drivers for the prevalence of private tutoring in East Asia. However, the official number of private tutoring businesses increased despite large increases in the number of high schools in Taiwan. This paper looks at the causal impact of school availability on private tutoring. I use a novel IV strategy and exploit variations across counties in high school construction to separate out the effect of high school construction on private tutoring through changes in availability. I find that an increase in the probability of getting into a public high school is associated with reductions in households' spending and participation in private tutoring.
Cyclicality and Asymmetry of the User Cost of Labor: Evidence and Theory (E3, J3)
The user cost of labor (UCL) plays an allocative role in a wide class of macroeconomic models. Despite this appealing feature, estimating the UCL involves empirical challenges as it requires a sequence of wages from hiring until separation. The cyclical changes in the average quality of new matches weigh on measuring the cyclicality of the UCL. In this paper, we overcome these challenges by exploiting unique Japanese data, which tracks wages at each tenure after school graduation. Our empirical findings are twofold. First, the UCL remains highly procyclical after controlling for the cyclical changes in the average job-match quality, whereas the new-hire wage is no longer more cyclical than the incumbent-worker wage. Second, downward adjustments of the UCL are smaller than upward ones. The downward rigidity arises from the combination of that of the new-hire and incumbent-worker wages. We then develop a wage posting model to account for these observations. We demonstrate that under asymmetric information, firms use wages as a screening tool to receive the application from targeted workers and maintain a high value of a posted contract in recessions, leading to the downward rigidity and overall high cyclicality of the UCL.
Dealing with Logs and Zeros in Regression Models (C1, A1)
Log-linear models are prevalent in empirical research. Yet, how to handle zeros in the dependent variable has remained obscure. This article clarifies this issue and develops a new family of estimators, called iterated Ordinary Least Squares (iOLS), which offer multiple advantages to address the "log of zero". We extend it to the endogenous regressors setting (i2SLS), and provide simple but effective solutions to address common issues like the inclusion of many fixed-effects. In addition, we develop specification tests to help researchers select between alternative estimators. Finally, our methods are illustrated through numerical simulations and replications of recent publications.
Debt Aversion: Theory and Experiment (D9, C9)
Borrowing and saving decisions are among the most important and economically significant choices people face in their lifetime. An unwillingness to save may have severe implications such as insufficient retirement savings. In the same way, borrowing too much or too little can have negative economic consequences. Debt aversion, defined as unwillingness to take on debt even if economically beneficial, has received increased attention by researchers lately, for its adverse effects on financial decision-making. In this paper, we propose a formal model of debt aversion, and use a novel experiment to elicit and to jointly estimate debt aversion with preferences over time, risk and losses. In the experiment participants can accept or reject different debt and saving contracts, defined over real monetary payments. Using participants' choices, we can identify whether they systematically prefer saving contracts over debt contracts, controlling for time preferences, present bias, risk aversion and loss aversion. To this end, we employ maximum likelihood estimations to structurally estimate the preference parameters of our model of debt aversion. We find that participants are on average debt averse, thus establishing debt aversion as dimension of individual preferences in its own right, that is distinct from other relevant preferences, for instance loss aversion. Further, testing the relation of debt aversion and individual characteristics, we find that debt aversion is negatively associated with cognitive ability, and positively associated with participants' savings. Moreover, we demonstrate robustness of debt aversion to a wide array of alternative modeling specification and influencing factors.
Deciphering Federal Reserve Communication via Text Analysis of Alternative FOMC Statements (E4, G1)
We apply a natural language processing algorithm to FOMC statements to construct
a new measure of monetary policy stance, including the tone and novelty of a policy
statement. We exploit cross-sectional variations across alternative FOMC statements
to identify the tone (for example, dovish or hawkish) and contrast the current and
previous FOMC statements released after Committee meetings to identify the novelty
of the announcement. We then use high-frequency bond prices to compute the surprise
component of the monetary policy stance. Our text-based estimates of monetary policy
surprises are not sensitive to the choice of bond maturities used in estimation, are
highly correlated with forward guidance shocks in the literature, and are associated
with lower stock returns after unexpected policy tightening. The key advantage of our
approach is that we are able to conduct a counterfactual policy evaluation by replacing
the released statement with an alternative statement, allowing us to perform a more
detailed investigation at the sentence and paragraph level.
Decomposing Gender Differences in Bankcard Credit Limits (J1, G5)
In this paper, we examine if there are gender differences in credit card limits by utilizing a unique panel data set linking mortgage applicant information with individual-level credit bureau data. We document that, on average, male borrowers have higher total bankcard limits than female borrowers, even after controlling for credit score, income, and demographic characteristics. Using a standard Kitagawa-Oaxaca-Blinder (KOB) threefold decomposition, we find that 87 percent of the difference is explained by differences in the effect of observed characteristics between male and female borrowers while approximately 10 percent of the difference in bankcard limits can be explained by differences in the levels of observed characteristics. Finally, we use a quantile decomposition strategy to analyze the gender gap along the entire bankcard credit limit distribution from 2006 to 2016. Our estimates show that gender differences in bankcard limits, along with the primary factors that drive this gap, have changed over time and vary across the distribution of credit limits.
Demonetization and Its Discontent: Political Strategy and Competition in Indian Elections (H7, H1)
On November 8, 2016, the Prime Minister of India announced the demonetization of notes that made 86 % of cash in circulation in India. I examine the impact of the prolonged cash shortage that followed on the political competition in the assembly elections within a year of the event. Using a difference-in-difference methodology comparing districts with high and low levels of population per bank, I show that demonetization had significant impacts on the political competition and the voter turnout in the elections that followed in districts more-acutely affected by the policy. Next, using the demonetization event and voter turnout in the past as instrumental variables for the number of candidates running for office and voter turnout, I show that Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP), the political party in power at the federal level that implemented demonetization, benefited from the decrease in competition and increase in voter turnout. We are unable to rule out a nation-wide change in voter preference in favor of BJP. But a comparison of elections within a year after demonetization but in different months suggest that the decrease in competition and the increase in voter turnout due to demonetization explains all the advantage BJP had in most-affected districts.
Determinants and Consequences of Poor Decisions in Health Insurance (D9, I1)
This paper aims at understanding decision patterns and welfare effects of poor decisions in health insurance conditional on a large set of sociodemographic characteristics. While giving consumers choice has the potential to improve welfare in principle, the prevalence of empirically observed choices that deviate from utility-maximizing behavior in health insurance markets questions the validity of such arguments. We exploit the highly regulated nature of contracts with only six distinct deductible levels and standardized covered services across contracts and providers in the Swiss mandatory health insurance market to identify optimal and non-optimal coverage levels at the individual level based on a range of standard and behavioral decision models. Using population representative survey and register data from 16,380 individuals, collected by the Swiss Federal government, we show that consumers lose up to USD 1,200 (USD 420 on average) annually due to non-optimal deductible choice. We identify high levels of heterogeneity, indicating that it is particularly the low-income share of the population demanding non-optimally high coverage and facing high financial losses and that the saliency of health issues (e.g., via the presence of long-term chronic diseases) increases the probability to choose optimal coverage levels. Our results highlight the heterogenous adverse welfare effects of choice in complex settings conditional on a choice menu including non-optimal options in general and have implications for policy in the Swiss mandatory health insurance scheme.
Diagnostic Expectations and Macroeconomic Volatility (E7, E3)
Diagnostic expectations have emerged as an important departure from rational expectations in macroeconomics and finance. We offer a first treatment of diagnostic expectations in linear macroeconomic models. We present a general proof of the existence of a rational expectations representation, which can be used to solve these models. Under some conditions, diagnostic expectations generate higher volatility than rational expectations. In a quantitative medium-scale DSGE model, we find that diagnostic expectations generate 38\% extra output volatility. Moreover, we discuss how the combination of diagnosticity with imperfect information can rationalize under- and over-reaction in macroeconomics.
Disclosure Law and External Audit Demand: Evidence from Latin America (G3, M4)
The study relies on difference-in-differences to empirically identify the effect of disclosure law changes on external audit demand by private firms in 18 Latin American countries. Random effects probit estimation results indicate stronger disclosure law reduces the probability of external audit choice in treated medium-sized firms by 8.8 percentage points, relative to their untreated counterparts. The finding supports agency theory’s prediction that country-level and firm-level governance, represented by disclosure law and external audit choice, respectively, are substitutes for this firm size category. The implication is unintended consequences may result if principals in these firms do not enforce disclosure policy standards.
Discordant Relaxations of Misspecified Models (C1)
In many set-identified models, it is difficult to obtain a tractable characterization of the identified set. Therefore, empirical works often construct confidence regions based on an outer set of the identified set. Because an outer set is always a superset of the identified set, this practice is often viewed as conservative yet valid. However, this paper shows that, when the model is refuted by the data, a nonempty outer set could deliver conflicting results with another outer set derived from the same underlying model structure, so that the results of outer sets could be misleading in the presence of misspecification. We provide a sufficient condition for the existence of discordant outer sets which covers models characterized by intersection bounds and the Artstein (1983) inequalities. We also derive sufficient conditions for the non-existence of discordant submodels, therefore providing a class of models for which constructing outer sets cannot lead to misleading interpretations. In the case of discordancy, we follow Masten and Poirier (2020) by developing a method to salvage misspecified models, but unlike them we focus on discrete relaxations. We consider all minimum relaxations of a refuted model which restores data-consistency. We find that the union of the identified sets of these minimum relaxations is misspecification-robust and has a new and intuitive empirical interpretation.
Discrete Payments Optimization Using Reinforcement Learning (C7, E5)
This paper uses a machine learning technique called reinforcement learning (or RL) to approximate the policy rules of banks participating in a high-value payments system. The objective of the agents is to learn a policy function for the choice of amount of liquidity provided to the system at the beginning of the day and its flow rate of payments during the day. Also, we consider payments which are indivisible, i.e. discrete. Therefore, the bank has to solve a discrete optimization problem. Individual choices have complex strategic effects precluding a closed form solution of the optimal policy, except in simple cases. We show that in a simplified two-agent setting, agents using reinforcement learning do learn the policy that minimizes the cost of processing their individual payments. Our results show agents trained with RL can solve complex integer optimization problems in real-world strategic games and show usefulness of such tools to solve complex strategic liquidity management problems in payments systems.
Distribution-Free Assessment of Population Overlap in Observational Studies (C1)
The credibility of causal inference with observational studies relies crucially on the overlap of baseline covariates between different treated groups, which is also known as the positivity or common support assumption. The current empirical assessment of overlap is typically based on estimated propensity scores. This approach is meaningful only when the propensity score model is correctly specified, and in general, it has no formal statistical guarantee due to the lack of proper uncertainty quantification. In this work, we formally define a measure of population overlap inspired by the strict overlap condition (e.g. that propensity scores lie in [0.1, 0.9] almost surely), and develop a family of upper confidence bounds on this measure. We call them O-values. The O-values are valid in finite samples without any assumption on the data generating process, as long as the observations are independent and identically distributed. Technically, we construct the O-values based on a non-standard partial identification approach, with the uncertainty quantification handled by computable concentration inequalities.
Distributional Benefits of Government Spending at the ZLB (E6, E5)
Should we expect larger government spending multipliers from the COVID-19 fiscal packages given that monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound (ZLB)? We provide new evidence from quantile regressions and analyze them in a non-linear DGSE model.
Ramey and Zubairy (2018) showed that mean fiscal multipliers are larger during ZLB periods using 140 years of US data. In a related framework estimated with quantile local projections together with instruments for fiscal shocks, we find quantile fiscal multipliers to be larger than one during ZLB periods, but only conditional on being in the upper quantiles of future GDP growth. This means that, during ZLB episodes, fiscal stimulus increases upside risks to GDP more than it improves downside risks to GDP.
We then build a non-linear macro DSGE model able to replicate the historical distribution of GDP, with negative skewness both in its growth and gaps. As such, we also provide a framework to analyze the 5th percentile of the GDP growth distribution, i.e. Growth-at-Risk. Our simulations of periods of fiscal spending at the ZLB are consistent with the data: fiscal spending has a larger impact at the ZLB, especially in the upper tail of the future distribution of GDP with multipliers above one. The simulations further show that the larger multipliers during ZLB episodes are observed mostly when initial conditions are bad and when the economic recovery is protracted.
Our results suggest an insurance benefit of government spending: if the crisis is more damaging than expected and the recovery lasts longer, then fiscal multipliers are more likely to be around or above unity. This suggests that fiscal stimulus during the COVID-19 crisis is likely to be very effective with multipliers above one.
Distributional Welfare Effect of Inflation under Endogenous Search Model (E3, E5)
This paper addresses the classic issue of measuring the welfare cost of inflation. We extend the New Monetarist framework originated by Largo and Wright (2005) with a price dispersion mechanism similar to Wang (2016) but with the addition of heterogeneous productivity among agents. This productivity is the source of heterogeneous search cost among buyers, and it affects search intensity. Our model suggests that buyers of different productivity choose a different search intensity according to their opportunity cost of search. Low productivity group is inclined to search harder, and as a consequence, there is a positive externality towards high productivity group since they also benefit from sellers’ price dispersion. Overall, inflation has a distributional welfare effect on heterogeneous agents.
Diversity & Inclusion: A Tale of Two Economies (E3, E2)
With the improving health picture, analysts are predicting a quick bounce-back in economic activities/back to the “normal.” We present a new framework to characterize the pace of the labor market recovery by race and gender. Our study would help design policies that account for disparities beneath aggregate statistics and facilitate policymakers’ transition towards a framework that benefits all.
This study estimates the asymmetric economic damages from the COVID-19 pandemic for different segments of the population. That is, Black Americans were affected the most in terms of, relatively, higher and faster unemployment compared to other races. Furthermore, Black women were affected more than Black men. Moreover, the pace of recovery is slower for Black Americans compared to other major races, and again, Black women are standing at the bottom in the recovery phase. Additionally, unlike other races, more Black women than Black men are in the labor force, which intensifies the problem of uneven pace of recovery for Blacks.
A similar conclusion is estimated for the Great Recession (GR) where Black women suffered the most among races/gender. Additionally, the pace of recovery for Black women was the slowest among any race/gender. Therefore, the slower recovery in the Black labor market may have pulled the national recovery down/slower pace. Furthermore, we estimate that if the Black labor market would have followed the same pace as what the national market observed, then the pace of labor market recovery would have been faster than the actual recovery.
Policymakers should incorporate diversity & inclusion (D&I) instead of the current tradition of one-policy-fits-all. Accounting for the disparate impacts of economic downturns and the uneven pace of recoveries would help to achieve faster recoveries and place less burden policymakers’ traditional toolkit.
Do as I Say and Do as I Do: Paternalism and Preference Differences in Decision Making for Others (C9, G1)
Money managers justify the cost of advice by offering portfolio customisation for each client’s risk tolerance (Bernstein, 1992; Campbell and Viceira, 2002). However, instead of tailoring investments, managers often direct clients to invest according to their own risk preferences, rather than those of their client, which has caused significant underperformance in manager led funds (Linnainmaa et al, 2021). We study whether money managers overrule their client’s risk preferences paternalistically when investing for them. We also examine how differing risk preferences between managers and clients affects investments. In an online experiment, we test whether managers disregard their client’s risk preferences, by explicitly informing managers of their client’s preference before they invest on their behalf. In a Gneezy and Potters (1997) investment task, participants invest in a risky project first for themselves, then for another participant. When investing on their behalf, participants have complete information about their recipient’s risk preference, but no material stake in the decision. We use the strategy method to systematically vary the difference between decision-maker and recipient’s risk preferences within-subjects. We also elicit EQ and SVO to test whether those high in empathy adopt the recipient’s preferences more and whether those with more concern for recipients impose their own preferences out of paternalism. From preliminary results, we find that only 7% of managers project their preferences onto investments, whereas 13% follow their client’s preference exactly. However, overall managers do invest further from their client’s wishes, and closer to their own, the more their risk preferences differ. These findings add to the current policy debate about the merits of United States money managers assuming fiduciary duty for clients. Indeed, our results suggest that even if managers did act as fiduciaries, only a minority would follow the client’s preferences to the letter, and some may disregard them all together.
Do Children Perform Better in Religious Schools? Evidence from Population Data (I2, I0)
Religious schools enjoy a high academic reputation among the parents in many societies. Previous studies that assessed the effect of religious schools were conducted in countries where religious schools are private or where they charge fees and set admission criteria. As a result, the effect of religious schooling could not be separated from the effect of private schooling and selection. We contribute to the literature by using Dutch data that include the entire population of children born between 1998 and 2007. In the Netherlands, both public and religious schools are publicly funded, schooling is free of charge and admission is independent of the child’s religious or ideological character. Using a range of models including fixed effects models, coarsened exact matching, and treatment effect bounds, we compare school outcomes of children in religious versus public schools. Our results indicate that children in religious schools outperform children in public schools in primary education. The benefits of religious schooling were largest for children in Orthodox Protestant, Islamic and Hindu schools, which mostly attract children from a disadvantaged socioeconomic background. However, the influence of religious schooling fades out by the end of secondary education.
Do Firms Set Pension Discount Rates Strategically? (G3, G0)
Corporations reduce the magnitude of pension contributions through the choices of pension liability discount rates, and do so asymmetrically: firms are slow to drop the rates when corporate bond rates drop, but raise them rapidly when rates rise. Cross-sectionally, firms with greater investment productivity and facing more financial difficulty set higher pension discount rates. Consistently, we find that firms setting high pension discount rates tend to have higher funding ratios and that setting high pension discount rates allow more productive firms to invest more and become more profitable when they face a lower level of insolvency risk. Imperfect elasticity of pension discount rates to market interest rates offers firms leeway to alleviate the constraints from defined benefit pension plans.
Do Institutional Investors Drive Female Critical Mass within a Firm’s Lifecycle and its Impact on Performance (G3, G3)
This paper examines the effect of having three or more female representatives on a board of directors (“critical mass”) and its implications on firm performance. Drawing on insights from institutional theory and agency theory, we examine whether institutional shareholders promote or discourage female critical mass to improve gender diversity. We document that higher institutional ownership reduces the likelihood of hiring boards with female critical mass, and this manifests predominantly among firms that have greater level of agency problems (i.e. free cash flow). Additionally, we find that these effects are prevalent in boards during CEO turnover time. We also find that, female critical mass boards are significantly positively related to performance. We employ an instrumental variable approach using firms’ addition to S&P500 index as an instrument to account for potential endogeneity in the examined relationship between female critical mass and institutional ownership. Based on our findings, we conclude that higher ownership by institutional investors negatively impacts on female critical mass, which in turn may worsen board effectiveness.
Do Languages Generate Future-Oriented Economic Behavior? Experimental Evidence for Causal Effects (D9, D1)
Studies show that the use of languages which grammatically associate the future and the present tends to correlate with more future-oriented economic behavior. We take an experimental approach to go beyond correlation, and to identify causality. We asked bilingual participants, people fluent in two languages which differ in the way they encode time, to make a future-oriented economic decision. The participants who were addressed in a language in which the present and the future are marked more distinctly tended to value future events less than participants addressed in a language in which the present and the future are similarly marked.
Do Major Government Customers Help U.S. Firms Escape Foreign Competition? (H5, F1)
This paper studies whether firms that generate a substantial share of their revenues from the government are more resilient to foreign competition. Using the United States granting Permanent Normal Trade Relations to China as an exogenous shock, we show that government contractors have better performance than their peer firms in industries that are more exposed to import shocks. The results are robust to the inclusion of a broad set of controls, instrumental variable analysis, matching analysis, and alternative proxies of government customer and import competition. There is also a stronger effect for firms with greater financial constraints and less corporate diversification. We further show that government procurements allow firms to maintain a higher level of investment and investment efficiency and enjoy lower cost of bank debt when facing increased import competition. Overall, this study provides further evidence on the effect of the government’s participation in product market.
Do Private Schools Increase Academic Achievement? Evidence from France (I2)
While the relative effectiveness of private and public education systems is the subject of a large research literature and is at the heart of public policies in many countries, empirical work on the subject in France is lacking. I use propensity score matching on a large French database to estimate the effect of enrollment in a private school on academic achievement as measured by ninth grade test scores in three school subjects (mathematics, French, and history-geography). I find that private school attendance has a large and significant effect on educational success. Boys’ (girls’) scores in private school were between 0.19 (0.13) and 0.23 (0.19) standard deviations (SD) higher on standardized tests in ninth grade. A series of checks confirm the robustness of these results. Moreover, the results show that it is boys with low test scores in sixth grade who benefit the most from the positive effects of enrollment in a private lower secondary school.
Do Tax Deferred Accounts Improve Lifecycle Savings? Experimental Evidence (C9, H3)
Tax deferred accounts (TDAs) are an increasingly popular method of saving for retirement, and have become common across many developed countries. Nevertheless it is unclear whether TDAs actually improve a household's lifecycle savings behavior and retirement preparedness because it is difficult to perform a counterfactual analysis. Households always have other means of savings so there is no guarantee that a TDA, with its inflexible restriction that funds cannot be drawn until retirement, will be attractive or improve lifecycle savings. In this paper we resort to laboratory experiments to address the question of whether TDAs improve lifecycle savings by comparing experimental treatments where subjects have access to TDAs with treatments where they do not, and we are also careful to consider the tax consequences of our different treatments as well. We find that the presence of TDAs substantially improves a household's lifecycle savings behavior, making them better prepared for retirement.
Do Women Political Leaders Enhance Government Financial Conditions? Evidence from U.S. Cities. (H7, G4)
Limiting the increase of public debt is a key policy issue in most economies, especially after the fiscal policy responses to the COVID-19 crisis. This paper analyzes the effect of electing female political leaders on the financing cost of local government debt. To address endogeneity of political leadership, we collect gender information on mayoral candidates and employ a regression discontinuity (RD) design to analyze 604 female-male contested mayoral elections in 336 U.S. cities during 1990-2014. Using municipal bond issuance data provided by Thomson Reuters Securities Data Company (SDC), we find that municipal bond yield spreads of cities narrowly electing women mayors are 33 basis points lower than that of cities electing male mayors. This effect is robust to specifications using different functional forms of the assignment variable, alternative bandwidth choices, using various measures of bond yield spreads, and controlling for bond characteristics. More importantly, we show that our results are not driven by party affiliation. To explore the potential mechanism behind female mayors lowering municipal financing cost, we show that the gender effect is more pronounced in cities with higher risk of financial distress. Moreover, we find that female mayors reduce government debt and improve the fiscal stability of cities they govern. Specifically, female mayors lead to lower debt per capita ratios and lower debt to revenue.
Does accounting for children lead to higher optimal income redistribution? Overlapping generations model approach. (H3, E2)
We study the optimal design of the tax-benefit system in a framework that accounts for income risk and endogenous fertility. Children in our set-up are public good due to PAYG social security. We calibrate the model to the US. We show that the relationship between the welfare effect and the redistribution scale via labor tax is hump-shaped. The current tax system in the case of the US offers too low redistribution. Implementing the optimal tax generates large welfare gains. Endogenous fertility channels additionally boost welfare gains because higher redistribution leads to higher fertility levels. We also show that the optimal tax scheme depends strongly on the family policy structure, and redistributive child-related transfer, like child allowance, can substitute for the redistribution build-in the labor income tax scheme. Keeping tax system structure in a current shape and increase expenditure on child-related transfers by 2% of GDP leads to similar welfare gains as implementing optimal labor tax.
Does Bank Competition Increase Bank Liquidity Creation? A State-Level Perspective (G2)
One purpose of regulations regarding bank competition is to encourage depressed local credit markets. Does enhanced competition through bank deregulation revive local economy? Exploiting staggered bank deregulation events in the United States, I document that state-level bank deregulation does not, on average, significantly affect state-level bank liquidity creation, while bank-level analyses demonstrate that enhanced bank competition decreases bank liquidity creation. In addition, I find that states and banks respond to state-level deregulation events differently. My results suggest that the policy, which is applied to all heterogeneous banks and states in the same way, does not fit all.
Does Civil Forfeiture Fight Crime? Evidence from New Mexico (K4, H7)
This study examines civil forfeiture’s impact on crime rates. Proponents of the policy, which allows law enforcement to take and permanently keep property without a criminal conviction, claim it is an essential crime-fighting tool, particularly in the War on Drugs. Critics challenge the crime-fighting efficacy of civil forfeiture and warn the policy violates individual liberties. Previous research has associated increases in civil forfeiture with higher rates of drug arrests, but to date, no study has examined the impact of a significant civil forfeiture reform. Using a five-year panel of monthly crime rates, I studied the impact on crime of legislation that eliminated civil forfeiture in New Mexico. This study did not find sufficient evidence to conclude civil forfeiture effectively fights crime. Specifically, when the policy was eliminated in New Mexico, crime rates did not worsen compared to control states.
Does Consumer Monitoring Reduce Corporate Tax Evasion Along the Supply Chain? Evidence from Mongolia (H2, H8)
This paper tracks the effects of consumer monitoring on firms’ tax evasion along the supply chain. To do so, I study a Mongolian government program, which incentivises consumers to report their purchases. First, I estimate the effect of the program on corporate income tax (CIT) and value-added tax (VAT), by comparing retailers who are directly affected, and wholesalers, who are only indirectly affected. I find that retailers increase their reported sales, but partly offset this by artificially inflating their costs on CIT returns. As a result, retailers’ CIT liabilities increase by 11%. In comparison, their VAT liabilities increase by 31% because VAT is less prone to such cost manipulation. Second, I find that the program also increases the VAT liabilities of upstream firms by about 15% when they are more likely to sell to (monitored) retailers, compared to the upstream firms that sell to firms that are not directly monitored. The program does not, however, affect the upstream firms’ reported CIT liabilities. My findings highlight the enforcement advantage of VAT compared to CIT and that consumer monitoring enhances the self-enforcing mechanism in VAT along the supply chain.
Does IT Help Startups? Information Technology in Banking and Entrepreneurship (G2, E4)
This paper analyzes the increasingly important role of information technology (IT) in banking for entrepreneurship. We show that IT in banking spurs entrepreneurship. Job creation by young firms is stronger in US counties which are more exposed to IT-intensive banks through their historical geographical footprint, especially for firms in industries that rely more on external finance and have low startup capital. Entrepreneurs that use their homes as collateral benefit disproportionately more from IT in banking when house prices rise. We also show that IT adoption of banks reduces the role of distance between the headquarter and lending location in small business lending, suggesting that IT adoption can mitigate information frictions.
Does Paid Family Leave Save Infant Lives? Evidence from California (I1, J1)
One goal of the paid family leave program in the U.S. is to help working parents balance their
careers and family responsibilities and hence improve the well-being of their infants. A large
body of literature evaluates the effects of California’s Paid Family Leave program (CA-PFL) on
early childhood outcomes, but most studies have been based on the analyses of surviving infants.
If the CA-PFL reduces infant deaths, then such analyses would understate the program’s true
effects. Using the linked birth and infant death data in the U.S. with a difference-in-differences
framework, I find that the implementation of the CA-PFL reduced the post-neonatal mortality
rate by 0.135 (per 1,000 live births), or it saved approximately 339 infant lives in California from
2004 to 2008. The effects were driven by death from internal causes and there were larger effects
for boys than girls. These results are stable across a variety of robustness checks, and additional
examinations give little reason to believe that the results are induced by the endogeneity of
policy, simultaneously shocks, and fertility changes.
Does Real Earnings Management Adversely Affect Analyst Coverage and Forecasts? (M4, G1)
Cohen et al. (2008) provide evidence that, after the implementation of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (hereafters, SOX) in 2002, firms tend to switch from accrual-based earnings management methods to real earnings management methods to manipulate their reported earnings. We investigate whether, in the post-SOX era, real earnings management adversely affects the coverage and forecasts of financial analysts who play a key role as information intermediaries between firms and investors in stock markets. We find that the extent of real earnings management is negatively associated with the number of analysts covering and forecasting earnings for firms. This association is less pronounced for firms that exhibit a high degree of accrual-based earnings management, thus reconciling with Cohen et al.’s finding that firms utilize accrual-based earnings management and real earnings management as substitutes in managing earnings. We find no evidence that real earnings management reduces the informativeness of, or increases the error in, analyst forecasts. This suggests that, given an analyst’s decision to cover firms that engage in real earnings management, s/he does not compromise on the quality of her/his forecasts. In aggregate, the reduced analyst coverage, albeit not in company with an increase in forecast error or a decrease in forecast informativeness, would potentially undermine the analysts’ overall information-intermediary role in stock markets, thereby deteriorate the overall information environments of firms, and weaken capital market efficiency. Our study thus calls for the importance of scrutinizing and curbing real earnings management.
Does the Marketing Experience of Firm Executives Promote Corporate Innovation? (M3, O3)
Based on a sample of Chinese listed companies from 2009 to 2019, we examine whether the marketing experience of executives, which plausibly facilitates commercialization of innovation outputs, spurs corporate innovation. We find that firms having a stronger team of marketing-experienced executives exhibit a higher degree of innovation. The finding is robust to using propensity-score matching, coarsened-exact matching, firm-fixed-effects regression, two-stage least squares regression, the impact threshold for a confounding variable test, difference-in-differences regression analysis, a dynamic panel generalized method of moments estimator, and a placebo test to control for potential endogeneity, and is also amenable to using alternative measures of corporate innovation and of executive marketing experience. We also find that the impacts of innovation on corporate performance and productivity are more positive for firms with executives more experienced in marketing. Further analysis reveals that the positive effect of executive marketing experience on innovation is manifested more significantly in increased invention patents and increased product-design patents, and is stronger for firms with executives experienced in R&D, firms with high growth, firms confronted with fierce industrial product market competition, and non-state-owned enterprises.
Dominant Currency Dynamics: Evidence on Dollar-Invoicing from UK Exporters (F4, F3)
How do the choices of individual firms contribute to the dominance of a currency in global trade? Using export transactions data from the UK over 2010-2016, we document strong evidence of two mechanisms that promote the use of a dominant currency: (1) prior experience: the probability that a firm invoices its exports to a new market in a dominant currency is increasing in the number of years the firm has used the dominant currency in its existing markets; (2) strategic complementarity: a firm is more likely to invoice its exports in the currency chosen by the majority of its competitors in a foreign destination market in order to stabilize its residual demand in that market. We show that the introduction of a managerial fixed cost of currency management into a model of invoicing currency choice yields dynamic paths of currency choice that match our empirical findings.
Downward Wage Rigidity In a Liquidity Trap (E3, E4)
A large strand of literature finds that there exists downward nominal wage rigidity in the economy – there is more resistance to nominal wage cuts than to raises. Since wage cuts are more likely to happen during economic downturns, a natural question to ask is how the asymmetry in rigidity affects the severity of recessions. In this paper, we focus on the most severe recessions – depressions that are coupled with deflation and a liquidity trap, such as the Great Depression and the 2008 financial crisis. Our finding is surprising: downward wage rigidity may lessen the severity of a depression.
Conventional wisdom suggests that in a recession, wage rigidity may cause a rise in real wages, which lowers labor demand and exacerbates the decline in output and employment. However, we find that this is only part of the story. A rise in real wages raises the marginal cost of firms and the purchasing power of consumers, both of which raise inflation expectations. When the economy is in a liquidity trap and the nominal interest rate hits the zero-lower-bound, higher inflation expectations lower the real interest rate and stimulates investment demand. This mechanism works against the conventional mechanism, and offers some relief to the economy. Our finding is based on analyses of a new Keynesian model, revised to incorporate downward wage rigidity and a liquidity trap.
We also analyze a parallel version of the economy, in which the size of the negative shock is not severe enough to tank the economy into a liquidity trap. In that economy, downward wage rigidity results in a more severe recession – a result that is consistent with findings in the literature. It is a paradox: downward wage rigidity worsens recessions – unless the recession is bad enough to push the economy into a liquidity trap.
Dynamic Demand of Capital and Labor: Evidence from Chinese Industrial Firms (D2, J2)
This paper employs a structural econometric approach to study the joint dynamic demand for capital and labor in Chinese firms. We recover key structural parameters in a dynamic model of interrelated factor demand subject to joint convex and non-convex costs. The model is able to replicate the stylized facts directly observed from Chinese manufacturing firm-level data over the period 1998-2007. Our estimations reveal that firms exhibit significant convex and fixed costs when adjusting capital or employment stock. Moreover, the adjustments in two factor inputs are inter-related, and adjusting capital and labor simultaneously is more costly than adjusting two inputs sequentially. Our counterfactual analysis suggests that removing the frictions in both capital and labor adjustments will lead to a 1% increase in aggregate total factor productivity (TFP) and a 7% increase in aggregate output.
Dynamic Games and Rational-Expectations Models of Macroeconomic Policies (E1, C3)
We consider a linear-quadratic differential game with two decision makers, which is interpreted as a model of the interactions between the government and the private sector. The open-loop Stackelberg equilibrium solution of this game is characterized analytically. On the other hand, we formulate a linear dynamic continuous-time model with rational expectations. We show that under some assumptions, the problem of determining optimal policies for a government with an economy given by the rational-expectations model is equivalent to the problem of determining the leader’s open-loop Stackelberg equilibrium strategy for the differential game. Consequences for the time inconsistency of optimal policies and for the problem of non-uniqueness of solutions of rational-expectations models are briefly discussed.
Dynamic Patent Portfolio Management (G3, G1)
I propose a tractable model integrating dynamic internal capital allocation with im- perfect patent protection, thereby endogenizing patent war and financing constraints. I emphasize the central importance of capital intangibility for corporate decisions when intangibles are insecure. The main results are: (1) relative to the first-best, im- perfect patent protection introduces the non-diversifiable patent risk as a new factor for internal capital misallocation; (2) the firm manages patent risk via patent portfolio management, litigation, and patent insurance; (3) the endogenous capital reallocation can diminish the impact of the imperfect patent protection; (4) firms on the verge of liquidation tend to use patent litigation to alleviate financial distress; (5) endogenous technology choice play an important rule in patent portfolio management, and (6) imperfect patent protection creates the wedge between average q and marginal q, yet this wedge will be diminished when the firm’s intangibility is high. Remarkably, this paper extends the Modern Portfolio Theory to the real investment case.
Dynamic relationships between criminal offending and victimization (K4, C3)
In the economics of crime, it is a stylized fact that those who commit crimes are more likely to be victims of crime. Similarly, victims of crime are more likely to be criminals. We explore the simultaneous nature of this relationship using a census of all police investigations in New Zealand between 2014 and 2020. We first revisit this hypothesis by following previous literature and pooling data over time and using recursive bivariate probit methods. This provides evidence of a weak, but fully simultaneous, relationship between criminality and victimhood. We next explore the overlap hypothesis by examining the intertemporal relationships between criminality and victimhood using a monthly panel of individuals chosen randomly from the New Zealand population. Panel fixed effects models reveal that previous victimization (offending) is only positively linked to current offending (victimization) in the months occurring immediately before offending (victimization). This suggests that the overlap between victimhood and criminality is driven primarily by 1) criminal incidents occurring close together in time or 2) incidents where individuals are at once considered both the victim of a crime and an offender (e.g., mutually combative assaults). The detailed nature of New Zealand Police records allows us to further explore intertemporal relationships by incident type, including violent crimes, property crimes, intimate partner violence, and offenses involving weapons.
Dynamic Risk Sharing in a Fiscal Union (E3, E6)
This paper highlights time-varying regional risk and federal fiscal transfer policy as two competing forces driving regional risk sharing over the business cycle and quantifies their impacts on aggregate fluctuations. I uncover that regional risk is strongly countercyclical: the conditional standard deviation of idiosyncratic shocks to U.S. state-level output growth is estimated to be 40% larger in NBER recessions than in normal times. However, the extent to which regions insure against these risks has not varied much over the business cycle. I argue that federal fiscal transfers that operate in a "state-contingent" manner during recessions can reconcile these results. To understand what these patterns of regional risk and fiscal integration imply for the aggregate, I build a New Keynesian model of heterogeneous regions with an incomplete asset market. The calibrated model suggests that during an economic downturn, increased regional risk worsens risk sharing, due to more regions being constrained at the borrowing limit; meanwhile, it amplifies the impact of aggregate productivity shocks, due to stronger precautionary saving motives leading to lower aggregate demand. However, state-contingent federal government transfers stabilize both the regional and aggregate economy, by providing insurance to the regions that need it the most - those with low productivity and high marginal propensity to consume. Taken together, this paper demonstrates the power of regional redistributive policies as automatic stabilizers in a fiscal union.
E-cigarettes and Smoking: Correlation, Causation, and Selection Bias (I1)
This study investigates the correlation between e-cigarette use (electronic nicotine delivery systems, ENDS) and smoking cessation, examines whether there is selection bias in cross-sectional studies of ENDS and cessation, and estimates the causal effect of ENDS on cessation.
ENDS may encourage or discourage cessation, depending on whether they are complements or substitutes for smoking. Ignoring the issue of selection-into-treatment (i.e., ENDS use) leads to bias in estimates of the causal effect of ENDS use on smoking. Many public health studies ignore the endogeneity problem but nonetheless conclude that ENDS hinder cessation.
We use data from Korea, 2014 to 2018, to establish that there is positive correlation between ENDS use and smoking. Then evidence for selection bias is presented, including changing characteristics of ENDS users and stronger correlation between ENDS and smoking after a negative government report on ENDS.
Causal effects are investigated with parametric (bivariate probit and copula models) and control function (moment-based) models for endogenous treatment effects with binary treatment and outcome variables. The causal effect of ENDS on cessation is estimated to be positive: ENDS use is associated with a 16 to 17 percentage point higher probability of cessation for male smokers choosing to use ENDS. The preferred model, based on the rotated Clayton copula with Gaussian (probit) marginals, is selected by formal information criteria. The results vary across the many other models estimated, but in a majority of them the treatment effects are roughly similar, statistically significant, and evidence for the endogeneity of ENDS use is confirmed.
The results lead to important policy implications. Some public health and regulatory officials discourage ENDS use because they believe, based on mere correlation, that ENDS causally discourage cessation from tobacco. The present study indicates that, instead, ENDS perhaps should be encouraged as part of cessation efforts.
Early Childhood Human Capital Formation at Scale (H1, I1)
Can governments leverage existing service-delivery platforms to scale early childhood development (ECD) programs? We experimentally study a large-scale home-visiting intervention providing materials and counseling - integrated into Bangladesh's national nutrition program without extra financial incentives for the service providers (SPs). We find SPs partially substituted away from nutritional to ECD counseling. Intent-to-treat estimates show the program improved child's cognitive (0.17 SD), language (0.23 SD), and socio-emotional developments (0.12-0.14 SD). Wasting and underweight rates also declined. Improved maternal agency, complementary parental investments, and higher take-up of the pre-existing nutrition program were important mechanisms. We estimate a sizeable internal rate-of-return of 19.6%.
Early Female Marriage and Sex Differentials in Child Healthcare and Nutrition (I1, J1)
Preferential treatment of boys at early stage of life is an important issue in the son-preferring societies of the Indian Subcontinent. In this study, we examine to what extent this prevailing gender bias is associated with the practice of early female marriage. Using data from four Demographic and Health Surveys, we study the association between early marriage among Pakistani women and differential peri- and post-natal child healthcare, nutrition and child development outcomes. At issue is whether early marriage has a role to play in the gender discrimination that begins in the womb, and whether boys and girls are treated differently when parents allocate nutrition and healthcare resources. We find that early marriage is significantly associated with several healthcare, nutrition and child development outcomes. The sex of the child too is significant in some estimations, showing the prevalence of son preference. However, the effects of maternal marriage age on child outcomes are found to be not gender-specific. Whether or not a woman married before reaching the age of 18 does little to modify the male gender bias prevalent in the society. This finding underscores the strength of existing patriarchal social norms which still reward women with greater say for bearing sons.
Early-Life Experiences, Altruism, and Stock Price Crash Risk (G4, G3)
By investigating the effects of a natural disaster on firm-specific stock price crash risk, we establish that firms led by a board chair who experienced the Great Chinese Famine exhibit lower crash risks. The findings are robust to addressing endogeneity issues that examine heterogeneity in excess death rates, as well as the influence of Wenchuan earthquake. The chairs with the famine experience have lower probability of financial restatement, earning management, and earning smooth. Finally, board chairs’ disaster experiences engage more in corporate social responsibility and enhance firms’ donations to such initiatives, which identifies the channel through which an altruistic attitude.
Earthquakes and Crimes Against Women (J0, I0)
We study the effects of a series of earthquakes that struck Mexico in September 2017 on gendered violence; namely, on domestic violence, sexual abuse, and rape. Using a national municipal-level crime data and a difference-in-differences strategy, results suggest that domestic violence increased by 17%, sexual abuse rose by 11%, and rape climbed by 12%. Then, using an event-study design, we observe two main patterns. The first pattern shows that domestic violence increased after the natural disaster but returned to pre-earthquake levels after approximately eight months. The second pattern demonstrates that sexual abuse and rape increased shortly after the event but never returned to pre-earthquakes levels. Finally, we explore a battery of mechanisms to understand the increase on crimes against women. Our findings indicate that a surge of street gangs occurred following the earthquakes, and that these gangs can played an important role in the escalation of crimes against women on the streets.
Eco-Certification: Warm Glow or Cold Prickle? (D9, Q5)
Eco-certification programs, which allow firms to display an eco-label on a product if it meets some environmental quality standard, have become a prominent complement to, and sometimes substitute for, direct environmental regulations. This paper analyzes two common approaches to modeling why consumers are willing to pay extra for certified products: one approach has consumers experience positive utility, or “warm glow,” from benefiting the environment; the other has them experience negative utility, or “cold prickle,” from damaging the environment. The two approaches yield identical predictions, provided consumers’ reference point for measuring benefits or damages is treated as fixed.
Social psychologists Miller and Monin (2016) argue, however, that many puzzling behavioral phenomena involving moral choices can be unified by assuming that people divide such choices into two categories. In situations perceived as “moral opportunities,” choosing the moral option enhances one’s moral self-image, giving rise to warm glow, while not choosing the option leaves one’s self-image unchanged. In situations perceived as “moral tests,” however, choosing the option leaves one’s self-image unchanged, while failing to choose the moral option diminishes one’s moral self-image, giving rise to cold prickle or guilt. Miller and Monin suggest, moreover, that these moral frames are highly context-dependent, varying across people as well as time.
By modeling a market in which eco-certified goods compete with non-certified ones, I show formally that, when such moral framing is allowed for, and when the reference point relative to which consumers experience either warm glow or cold prickle is modeled as endogenous to other consumers’ choices in plausible ways, ambiguity of market, welfare, and environmental outcomes becomes pervasive. It arises when assessing the impact of introducing eco-certified goods, when determining optimal certification standards, and when comparing eco-label programs’ effects to those of policy alternatives.
Economic Impact of the Most Drastic Lockdown During COVID-19 Pandemic---the Experience of Hubei, China (H1, C2)
This paper uses the panel approach proposed by Hsiao, Ching, and Wan (2012) and Hsiao and Zhou (2019) to assess the evolution of economic consequences of the drastic lockdown policy in the epicenter of COVID-19---the Hubei Province of China during worldwide curbs on economic activity. We find that the drastic 76-day COVID-19 lockdown policy brought huge negative impacts on Hubei’s economy. In 2020:q1, the lockdown quarter, the treatment effect on GDP was about 37% of the counterfactual. However, the drastic lockdown also brought the spread of COVID-19 under control in little more than two months. After the government lifted the lockdown in early April, the economy quickly recovered with the exception of passenger transportation sector which rebounded not as quickly as the rest of the general economy.
To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study identifying the dynamic macroeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 lockdown policy in the epicenter of China in times of pandemic. The counterfactual are constructed in the absence of “lockdown”, in times of pandemic not in the absence of pandemic. To get a whole picture, we assess the consequences on total output and its sectoral components, its private components, and the transportation sector. Second, our method does not involve modeling how COVID-19 spread and how the COVID-19 and other factors have affected the evolution of GDP, investment, or retail sales. Our results do not depend on the specific model specifications assumed in some current studies. It appears that as the world is facing the complex situation of global anti-epidemic efforts, our estimated results could shed light on how to formulate effective public policy in times of pandemic crisis.
Effect of an Income Shock on Subnational Debt: Micro Evidence from Mexico (H7, G2)
This paper examines how the debt stock of municipal governments responds to a shock that affects the distribution of revenue from the central government. The shock stems from the discrete updating of population census data that is plausibly uncorrelated with short-term financing needs. For a one-standard-deviation increase in the population shock, I find that federal transfers to Mexican municipalities increase by 2% over the first two post-census years. Using supervisory loan-level data, I show that the probability of municipalities being indebted declines by 0.1 percentage points over the same period. The response is driven by governments with relatively more own-source revenue, less dependent on transfers, which lenders perceive as more creditworthy. These findings reveal that the capacity to smooth shocks in credit markets is restricted to few governments with a diversified revenue base. In general, there is no evidence of a positive effect of grants on local debt, not even when the lender is a public bank. The additional revenue mostly goes to finance short-term, current expenditures, with limited potential to alter the path of local development.
Effect of Transparency on Corruption: Evidence from USA (H7, H1)
Transparency international constructs index about the transparency of policies across the world. But there is no transparency index for the states of USA. In this paper we construct transparency index for different states from the information available on the website of the state governments. These include various parameters as whether people are allowed during decision making process, how much information reaches people etc. Then we rank the states according to the index constructed. We look at the relationship between transparency and corruption. For corruption we use corruptions convictions index (CCI), corruption perceptions index (CPI) and corruption reflections index (CRI). These indices have been constructed by Dincer and Johnston . Corruption convictions index (CCI) is based on the convictions of public officials and is constructed from the data of the Public Integrity Section of Department of Justice. Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) is based on survey of perception of corruption in three branches of government viz. executive, legislative, and judicial. Corruption reflections index (CRI) is a state level version of the method used by Gentzkow, Glaser and Goldin (2006). CRI is based on the corruption stories covered in the Associated Press (AP) news wires which are electronically available via LexisNexis. Given all these indices we regress corruption and transparency. We take state weather, income, population as controls. Our initial results suggest that more transparent the laws of the state, the less corruption is there in that state.
Effective Training Through a Mobile App: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment (O3, Q1)
The application of information and communication technologies could be a viable alternative to traditional agricultural extension services in developing countries. We develop a mobile application-based training module intended to improve the quality of the grape and use a randomized controlled trial (RCT) to examine its effectiveness. We find that providing technical training through the mobile app can improve farmers’ knowledge and help them enhance the quality of their produce. We also find that motivating farmers through the mobile app is not effective and undermine the impact of increased knowledge. Bundling motivation with technical training can lead farmers to overestimate the quality of their products. It suggests that keeping training through mobile apps focused on the technical module is more desirable.
Effectiveness of Relocation Incentives for High Skilled Professions (I2, H2)
Effects of Childhood Peers on Personality Skills (I2, J1)
Despite extensive literature on peer effects, the role of peers on personality skill development remains poorly understood. We fill this gap by investigating the effects of having disadvantaged primary school peers, generated by random classroom assignment and parental migration for employment. We find that having disadvantaged peers significantly lowers conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability, and social skill. The implied effects of a 10--15 percentage point change in the classroom proportion of disadvantaged peers are comparable to the effects of popular early childhood interventions. Furthermore, we find suggestive evidence that these effects are driven by the peers' personality skills.
Emigration and Public Finances (H2, J6)
According to the World Migration Report 2020, the number of international migrants has increased over the last five decades, from 84 million in 1970 to 272 million in 2019. Among all the migrants, approximately 141 million live in Europe and North America, and around 80% emigrated from developing countries. The economic consequences of emigration for a developing country are mixed. On the one hand, emigrants generally embody a younger and higher educated part of the population. For example, 74% of immigrants are in the working-age range of 20 to 64, representing the loss of human capital for the origin countries. On the other hand, emigrants remit substantial funds to family members in their home country. International remittances have grown from an estimated 126 billion in 2000 to 689 billion in 2020.
This paper studies the aggregated impact of emigration on tax revenue in developing countries. Although there is evidence of the impact of remittances on tax revenue, the aggregated fiscal impact of emigration has not been studied. We try to fill this gap in the literature. Using cross-country data from 1990 to 2020, we follow the approaches of Feyrer (2019) and Docquier et al. (2016) to identify the causal effect of emigration on tax revenue. In particular, we use an instrumental variable that constructs from a gravity-based model for emigration. We find that the overall effect of emigration on the tax revenue is always positive and significant, and the effects are varied from different kinds of tax revenue. The findings of this paper could be useful for policymakers to understand the economic consequences of emigration and design policies that increase these benefits.
Endogeneity in Modal Regression (C1, C5)
In this paper, we propose a control function approach to account for endogeneity in a parametric linear triangular simultaneous equations model for modal regression when the conditional mode of unobservable error term on the explanatory variable is nonzero. We adjust the endogeneity with the residuals from the conditional mode decomposition of the endogenous variable as controls in the structural equation, and develop a computationally attractive two-step estimation procedure with the conditional mode independence restriction. Particularly, in the first step, we construct the estimated modal residuals from the reduced-form linear modal regression for the endogenous variable. In the second step, we include the reduced-form residual nonparametrically as an additional variable and propose a three-stage estimation method for the resulting semiparametric partially linear modal regression which has not been fully investigated in the literature. The proposed estimators could be easily solved by virtue of a modified modal expectation-maximization (MEM) algorithm. Consistency and asymptotic properties of the estimators for both parametric and nonparametric parts are rigorously established under generic regularity conditions, where we demonstrate that the parametric estimators are root-nh^3-consistent (n is sample size and h is a bandwidth) and the estimation of the nonparametric component is oracle. Monte Carlo simulations are conducted to examine the finite sample performance of the proposed estimation procedures. Two applications to the real dataset of Return to Schooling and Colonial Origins of Comparative Development are presented to further illustrate the proposed estimators in practice. We in the end develop an adaptive lasso method to select instrumental variables and demonstrate the oracle property of the proposed penalized modal regression model.
Endogenous Abatement Technology (O3, E6)
We first explore empirical evidence on fiscal and macro-financial drivers of green innovation. We find that the ETS price plays a significant role in steering green innovation. However, above a certain level, it negatively impacts green research and development (R&D), whereas long-term loans help boost green R&D. Second, to investigate the role financial policy could play in stimulating green R&D, we build a general equilibrium model where we show how green innovation could help achieve the net-zero target at lower output costs compared to fiscal carbon policies. Using Bayesian techniques, we first estimate the model and then construct counterfactual policy implementation scenarios, where we show that financial subsidies, macroprudential policies, and monetary policy differently affect the path of the trend growth in green innovation, and that they all have the same pro-cyclical dynamics. In addition, we investigate the net-zero emissions target under the three above-mentioned policies in order to assess their efficacy, and find that financial and monetary policy could substitute to fiscal policy and help achieve the net-zero objective.
Endogenous Product Adjustment and Exchange Rate Pass-Through (E3, F4)
We document how product quality responds to exchange rate movements and quantify the
extent to which these quality changes affect the aggregate pass-through into export prices.
We analyze the substantial sudden appreciation of the Swiss franc post-removal of the
1.20-CHF-per-euro lower bound in 2015 using transaction-level export data representing
a large share of total exports. We find that firms upgrade product quality after the
appreciation. Furthermore, they disproportionately remove lower-quality products from
product ranges. This quality upgrading and quality sorting effect accounts for approximately
one-third and one-tenth of total pass-through one year after the appreciation, respectively.
We cross-check our results with the microdata underlying the Swiss export price index,
which includes an adjustment factor for quality based on firms' reported product replacements,
and obtain similar results.
Endogenous Spatial Production Networks: Quantitative Implications for Trade and Productivity (F1, R1)
Larger Indian firms selling inputs to other firms tend to have more customers, tend to be used more intensively by their customers, and tend to have larger customers. Motivated by these regularities, I propose a novel empirical model of trade featuring endogenous formation of input-output linkages between spatially distant firms. The empirical model consists of (a) a theoretical framework that accommodates first order features of firm-to-firm network data, (b) a framework for structural estimation based on maximum likelihood that is uninhibited by the scale of data, and (c) a procedure for counterfactual analysis that speaks to the effects of micro- and macro- shocks to the spatial network economy. In the model, firms with low production costs end up larger because they find more customers, are used more intensively by their customers and in turn their customers lower production costs and end up larger themselves. The model is estimated using micro-data on firm-to-firm sales between Indian firms located across 141 districts. The model's fit is good. The estimated model implies that a 10% decline in inter-state border frictions in India leads to welfare gains ranging between 1% and 8% across districts. Moreover, over half of the variation in changes in firms' sales to other firms can be explained by endogenous changes in the network structure.
Endogenous Technology, Scarring and Fiscal Policy (E3, E6)
This paper studies the role of fiscal policy in a New Keynesian DSGE model with endogenous technology growth through R&D and technology adoption. In this framework, recessions can generate permanent scarring effects in total factor productivity. Demand-side shocks affect productivity-improving investment and thus the technology stock, rendering monetary policy non-neutral also over the long run. As a result, the costs of the ELB are higher than models with exogenous technology suggest, raising the role of supplementary fiscal policy and emphasizing the role of monetary-fiscal interaction in this context. Fiscal growth policies which target R&D and technology adoption support aggregate demand at present, while at the same time directly reducing scarring effects and related permanent output losses. Fiscal multipliers display both a short- and a long-term dimension, including permanent effects of fiscal stimulus.
Escaping Secular Stagnation with Unconventional Monetary Policy (E7, C9)
We design a new experimental framework to study policy interventions in secular stagnations and liquidity traps using an overlapping-generations environment where participants form expectations and make real economic decisions. We explore the ability of unconventional monetary policy to lead economies out of deflationary traps and away from a binding zero lower bound. We observe that participants are able to coordinate on high inflation full-employment equilibria. Permanent exogenous deleveraging shocks induce pessimistic expectations that precipitate persistently deflationary episodes. These shocks generate considerable consumption heterogeneity and also change subjects' forecasting heuristics to make them more backward-looking. We experimentally test policies aimed at re-anchoring expectations and the economy on the high inflation steady state. Permanently increasing the central bank's inflation target is insufficient to generate inflationary expectations. Eliminating the zero lower bound, on the other hand, is consistently effective at stimulating spending and generating the necessary inflation for the economies to escape the zero lower bound. Negative interest rates are more potent than raising the inflation target at shifting consumption to the present. Our findings suggest that inflation expectations and demand is better stimulated through realized wealth effects than coordination on rational expectations equilibria.
Estimating Effects of Dividend Tax Policy Changes (H2, G3)
At the beginning of 2021, we witnessed the high market volatility related to individual investors' activities, which reflected on specific stocks, including GME, AME, BB, etc. The events also lead to the block of trading from brokerage agencies. Compared with the U.S. market, the Chinese financial market has far more (appropriately 160 million in 2019) individual investors. To increase financial market stability, provide an incentive for listed firms to distribute dividends, and encourage long-term investment, on June 13, 2005, the Ministry of Finance and State Administration of Taxation of the People’s Republic of China jointly issued a document (Caishui 2005 No. 102) to lower the dividend tax rate from 20% to 10% for all investors. By conducting difference-in-differences and propensity score matching estimations with machine learning algorithms, I find that, after the 2005 policy change, lowering the dividend tax decreased the turnover rate and the number of trading volumes by over 18% and 68 million shares respectively. Therefore, this paper initiates the exploration of how policy variations affect investors' behavior.
Estimating Policy-Corrected Long-Term and Short-Term Tax Elasticities for the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom (H2, E6)
We estimate the elasticities of the most important tax categories with the help of a new quarterly database of discretionary tax measures for the US, Germany, and the UK over the period 1980Q1 to 2018Q2. Employing Romer & Romer’s (2009) narrative approach, we construct a policy-neutral dataset based on revenue figures from governmental records. Using this quantitative information, we are able to subtract policy-induced changes, which are typically not considered in the extant literature. Furthermore, we estimate state-dependent elasticities and adopt a more intuitive approach to measuring SR asymmetries based on the phase of the business cycle. In addition to ‘booms’ and ‘recessions’, we define a 'neutral' business cycle situation. Such a setup avoids setting a slightly negative/positive deviation from the long-run trend equal to a large recession/boom. In this regard, our findings can be summarized as follows: (i) In Germany and the UK, long-term tax-to-base elasticities are generally higher than short-term elasticities, whereas results for the US are mixed. (ii) Short-term elasticities for base-to-output elasticities tend to be smaller than unity, whereas long-term elasticities are close to unity. (iii) Germany and UK tax-to-output elasticities in the short term are lower than long-term elasticities, with mixed results for the US. (iv) For tax-to-base elasticities, we find business cycle asymmetries only across countries but not within countries. (v) For base-to-output elasticities, our results suggest few asymmetries across countries and more asymmetries across tax types. (vi) Typically, the above conclusions do not hold for corporate income tax.
Estimating Shadow Policy Rates in a Small Open Economy and the Role of Foreign Factors (E4, E5)
Shadow monetary policy rates (SMPRs) are useful to evaluate the policy stance when interest rates are at their lower bounds and unconventional policies are implemented. We present a methodology to estimate an SMPR for the case of a small open economy based on a dynamic factor model, which allows to consider the impact of foreign monetary conditions on domestic ones. An application to Chile shows that under large negative shocks, unconventional policies drove the domestic SMPR to negative levels. Also, the SMPR is mainly driven by domestic (foreign) factors in the short (long) run, lending support to the classic trilemma.
Estimating the Economic Cost of COVID-19 (E3, E2)
With the development of COVID-19 vaccines, analysts are predicting a quick bounce back in economic activities (back to the “normal”) and thereby suggesting that damages from the pandemic are temporary in nature.
Our study presents a framework to estimate economic costs of the COVID-19 pandemic for the U.S. economy. We characterize whether the pandemic-related damages are short lived or long lasting. The potential damages are estimated in terms of losses in major variables, including employment, consumption and GDP growth rates. By accurately estimating near-term damages from the pandemic, our framework would assist policymakers in regard to effective decision making.
To estimate damages from the pandemic, we utilize the pre-COVID potential level of the target variables, GDP for example, as a benchmark and compare these estimates with those that are calculated during the COVID pandemic. The intuition behind this method is that the pre-COVID potential GDP level is estimated using expansion phase growth rates and with the assumption of no COVID pandemic resurgence in the near future. Consequently, these rates are higher than those that are calculated during the pandemic and thereby the gap between these two measures of potential GDP is utilized as a benchmark to estimate the economic cost of COVID-19.
Our study suggests damages from the pandemic are not short lived (potentially long lasting) as the level/trend of potential GDP (and other variables) has shifted downward. That is, the major sectors have shifted to a lower growth trajectory compared to the pre-COVID growth path. These findings have vital implications for policymakers. That is, comparing real GDP with the post-COVID potential GDP estimates would paint an illusion of a stronger recovery. Furthermore, the illusion of a stronger recovery may lead to a sooner-than-appropriate-time policy normalization. Policymakers would avoid policy errors by utilizing our framework in the post-COVID era.
Estimation of a Partially Linear Seemingly Unrelated Regressions Model: Application to a Translog Cost System (C1, D2)
This paper studies a partially linear seemingly unrelated regressions model to estimate a translog cost system that consists of a partially linear translog cost function and input share equations. A simple and feasible estimation procedure is proposed. We show that both our parametric and nonparametric component estimators are consistent, asymptotically normal, and more efficient relative to the single-equation counterparts. We highlight that the relative efficiency gain of the nonparametric estimator for a particular equation, based on the Cholesky decomposition, improves with its position in the system and is maximized when this equation is placed at the end. A model specification test for parametric functional forms is proposed, and how to correct the between- and within-equation heteroscedasticity is also discussed. An Italian banking data set is used to estimate the translog cost system, yielding policy implications for risk management in banking.
Evaluating Marginal Internalities: A New Approach (H3, I1)
Consumers of sin goods often do not take the full health costs of consumption into account. In such cases, they impose an internality on themselves. If a social planner wishes to impose a sin tax, she needs first to measure the money-metric of the marginal internality.
This paper exploits a relationship between the sin good demand's health insurance elasticity and the marginal internality to estimate the latter. It develops a model where the internality arises because of both a self-control problem and biased beliefs about potential health harms. We show that the health insurance elasticity's determinants consist of rational factors and the money-metric of the marginal internality. By using empirical measurements of both the rational factors and the elasticity, we can determine the underlying marginal internality.
The most reliable existing method for the measurement of marginal internalities is the so-called "counterfactual normative consumer" approach, applied by Allcott, Lockwood and Taubinsky (2019, QJE) to sugary drinks consumption. It is a direct method that uses surveys to measure consumers' nutritional knowledge and self-control.
This paper's approach does not rely on surveys and uses different data to measure the same statistic. Thus, it complements the "counterfactual normative consumer" approach. We calibrate the model to sugary drinks consumption and show that our results are within the range of estimates derived by Allcott et al. (2019).
Evidence of Seclusion’s Effect on Suicide: Implications of COVID-19 Economic Interventions and Relocation (I1, H8)
Prior to COVID-19, suicide in the United States was on an upward trajectory. However, preliminary data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show the suicide rate dropped approximately 6.4% in 2020 amid the pandemic. Following the lifetime utility hypothesis of Hamermesh and Soss (1974), we provide evidence to explain why this occurred, showing why some states have historically experienced higher suicide rates and how changing factors amid the pandemic led to less suicide. The relationship between states having smaller population densities and higher rates of suicide is almost one-to-one, and this study is mostly concerned with investigating the effect of seclusion on suicide with population density acting as a proxy. We do this by estimating a log-log suicide mortality panel model using annual data on all 50 states and Washington, D.C. for the period 1999-2019. Our model includes a number of socio-economic, lifestyle, and environmental variables that previous empirical studies suspect influence suicide rates. We test the sensitivity of the estimated effect of population density on suicide with several different specifications to confirm robustness. Our results show that the estimate of population density (-0.77, CI: -1.52 — -0.01) is robust and isolation is the best predictor of a state’s suicide rate. Our analysis of control variables then shows that unemployment (0.10, CI: 0.01 — 0.18) has had the second-largest effect on suicide, historically. Government interventions to enhance unemployment insurance and the mass exodus from cities to rural areas are most responsible for the reduction in suicides amid the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
Evolution versus Creationism in the Classroom: The Lasting Effects of Science Education (I2, Z1)
Anti-scientific attitudes can impose substantial costs to public health, the environment,
and the economy. In this paper, we focus on the content of science education as one determinant of (anti-)scientific attitudes that is directly subject to the policymaker. Specifically, we isolate the causal effect of student’s exposure to teachings about evolution theory in science education on (i) their knowledge about evolution at the end of schooling, (ii) their attitudes on evolution in adulthood, and (iii) the probability that they work in life sciences.
In a generalized difference-in-differences framework, we exploit state-level reforms of the coverage of evolution in US State Science Education Standards as a source of arguably exogenous variation of students’ exposure to evolution teachings.
First, we link data on the evolution coverage in State Science Standards with the individual level National Assessment for Educational Progress (NAEP). We find that being exposed to a more comprehensive evolution coverage in high school increases students’ knowledge about evolution at the end of high
school. At the same time, we see that students’ knowledge in scientific areas other than
evolution (placebos) is not affected. Second, we link data on the evolution coverage in State Science Standards with the General Social Survey (GSS). We find that being exposed to a more comprehensive evolution coverage in high school increases individuals' approval of evolution in adulthood. At the same time, we find no effects on non-evolution scientific, religious, and political outcomes. Third, we link data on the evolution coverage in State Science Standards with the American Community Survey (ACS). We find that being exposed to a more comprehensive evolution coverage in high school increases individuals’ probability to work in life sciences in adulthood, but not in other occupational fields. In sum, these findings show that the content of science education has lasting effects on individuals.
Examining Patent Examiners: Present Bias, Procrastination and Task Performance (D9, O3)
We explore the unproductive procrastination behavior of patent examiners, probe whether present-biased preferences cause such behavior, and estimate the magnitude.
This paper focuses on patent examiners' task performance rather than task completion timing to assess present-biased time preferences. Previous economic studies using field data take task completion on or near deadline as evidence for present-bias-induced procrastination. By construct, we use variation in task performance to enhance the power of identification. Intuitively, if a delay is systematically accompanied by substandard performance, it will not be bolstered by option value theory but rather by present-bias theory because postponed decisions become counterproductive.
We set out a quasi-hyperbolic discounting model where a patent examiner is assigned a biweekly quota of patent application reviews and determines the level of effort by the deadline. We test the model's predictions using data on patent prosecution activities in the U.S. We also estimate the time preference parameters of the quasi hyperbolic discounting model. The panel structure of the patent examination data allows us to follow each patent examiner's performance profile. Since the present-bias factors are estimated as the number of patent examiners, the dimensionality problem occurs in the estimation process. We address this issue using a Bayesian inference approach with the Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method.
The estimation results provide strong evidence that present bias is widespread among patent examiners. Specifically, more than half the patent examiners have a present-bias factor of less than one. We draw two policy implications from our analysis. First, given that attrition rates are significantly higher for less present-biased patent examiners than for more present-biased patent examiners, the employee retention policy should target the former group. Second, reducing the patent examination quota can improve patent examination quality and timeliness. For a pharmaceutical patent, this reform could yield substantial consumer benefits.
Examining the Zero-Markup Drug Policy in China: A Structural Approach (I1, L5)
Since 2010, China’s pharmaceutical industry has gone through a series of reforms, notably the “Zero-Markup Drug Policy” (ZMDP). The main motivation of the policy is to break the integration between drug prescription and dispensation so that the known agency problem between physicians and patients can be alleviated. This paper estimates a structural model of China’s prescription drug market and quantifies the impact of the ZMDP on the profitability of hospitals and patient welfare. Our results suggest that: physicians’ prescription choices are more sensitive to patient’s out-of-pocket costs than hospitals’ drug markups, unless the coinsurance rate is above 35 percent; pricing is mostly dominated by provincial governments that are assumed to represent patients’ welfare; branded drugs are more preferable and less price elastic than generic ones, and the ZMDP makes generic drugs relatively more favorable and thus more profitable; while total sales is negatively affected by the ZMDP, overall patient welfare improves by a sizable amount because of the lowered prices.
Exit Expectations, Time Inconsistency, and the Optimal Design of a Currency Union (E5, E4)
In a currency union, monetary policies are determined collectively by the member countries. For countries' lacking commitment, one benefit of belonging to a currency union is that a country's monetary policy gains credibility by loosing their monetary autonomy. Focusing on this benefit of belonging to a currency union, this paper analyses the effect of an exogenous rise in the expectation of members' exit on the currency union's optimal design. Our two main results are as follows. First, higher expectations of a country's exit enable the public to anticipate a higher probability of domestic discretionary policymaking in the future. Since the public knows that the authority has an incentive to generate surprise inflation, we have a higher expected inflation rate accompanied by a lower growth rate at the rational expectation equilibrium. Second, a higher exit expectations of advanced countries increases the optimal share of developing countries in the currency union from the advanced countries' perspective. In other words, unlike the traditional theory of optimal currency areas, a higher exit probability requires a greater portion of member countries with dissimilar economic backgrounds to be in the currency area.
Expansion of Intermittent Renewables: Strategies, pass-through costs, and welfare distribution (Q4, L1)
We investigate technology as a source of product differentiation and its impact on strategic behavior and wealth distribution in the German day-ahead market. We compare the performance of our model to a benchmark, using elasticity-adjusted markups and without bid data. We represent uncertainty on the demand side as an intermittency of renewables or a flexible demand response. In a system with 33% renewable shares, both model estimates converge at off-peak hours, being robust to ramping cost and renewable forecast assumptions. Producers pass on fuel and carbon costs differently with implications for reinforced regulations by the European Emissions Trading Scheme. Implications for counterfactuals with carbon prices up to 100 e/tCO2 are also discussed.
Export by Cohort (F1, L2)
We find a ‘cohort effect’ among new exporters in the same destination market: firms entering later tend to perform better at the same age. Better performance of late entrants indicates improvement in measured firm characteristics. To identify such changes, we rely on structural models of new exporter dynamics, among which two competing theories stand out: demand learning and customer accumulation. We show that the relationship between sales growth at entry and cohort is informative about the main driver of post-entry exporter growth. A major class of demand learning models à la Jovanovic (1982) predict only a negative relationship, which is inconsistent with the weak positive relationship seen in the data. On the other hand, we show analytically that customer accumulation models are flexible enough to generate all signs of relationship. Guided by the qualitative analysis, we build a tractable customer base accumulation model with advertising, estimate it structurally and validate its capability to replicate the empirical cross-cohort exporter lifecycles. The model estimates suggest that cohort effect is a combination of productivity effect and reputation effect: exporters entering one cohort later on average gain 0.2% in measured productivity and start with a 7% larger customer base.
Female Mayors and Violence Against Women: Evidence from the U.S. (J1, H7)
Women are overrepresented in some crimes. In the United States, more than one in three women experience sexual violence involving physical contact during their lifetimes. Yet, only one out of four sexual assaults are reported to the police. This study examines the effect of female leadership in local government on violence against women. Regression discontinuity estimates show that elections of female mayors decrease violence specifically targeted toward women but leave other violence unaffected. The effect is strong only for local elected leaders and it is persistent throughout her term, while there is no effect for non-local leaders. Moreover, the study explores behavioral responses by victims. Evidence suggests that female victims are more likely to report violence against them after female mayors take office. Importantly, female victories are followed by greater police responsiveness to violence against women. There are no such effects for violence against men. These findings survive various robustness checks. The evidence accords with deterrence that refers to the behavioral reduction in crime due to offender anticipation of punishment.
Financial Autonomy in Small Open Economies (E4, G1)
This paper studies term structures of government bonds and estimates the bonds risk premia to explain stabilized cross-border capital flows in small open economies without effectively independent monetary policy. In Hong Kong (HK), the local currency is hardly pegged against the US dollars, and the monetary authority chooses open financial accounts at the cost of losing monetary independence. HK's Exchange Fund Bills and Notes (EFBN) are estimated to have a similar term structure with the US Treasury Bonds in the sample from 1996Q4 to 2020Q2. The EFBN risk premia, however, deviated occasionally from the US counterpart, suggesting divergent market expectations on HK and US assets. A vector-autoregressive model is employed to explain the EFBN risk premia with HK macroeconomic variables. The result shows that HK domestic price and real output are unable to predict the risk premia, speaking to the absence of policy aim at internal stability in HK. These findings also imply that, in addition to shocks from hard currency and the local economy, the risk premia in small open economies are to be explained by factors related to regional financial markets.
Financial Infrastructure and Micro-enterprise Performance: Evidence from India (G2, O2)
How does financial infrastructure affect micro-enterprise performance? We study this question in the context of India's bank branch expansion policy initiated in 2006. The policy classified regions as ``underbanked'' if their ex-ante branch density was less than the national average branch density, and encouraged private banks to open branches in these underbanked areas. We exploit this threshold-specific treatment assignment rule in the spirit of a regression discontinuity design to identify the causal impact of branch expansion on micro-enterprise performance, using data from a nationally representative survey on unincorporated micro and small enterprises. Focusing on regions located within a narrow window around the discontinuity threshold, our results show that enterprises in underbanked regions witnessed a significant increase in both revenues and value-addition in the aftermath of the policy intervention. The treatment effects are economically significant – underbanked districts see a 18% increase in enterprise revenues and a 22% increase in value-addition. There was however no change in formal or informal credit for these enterprises along either the extensive or the intensive margins, indicating that the positive impact of branch expansion on enterprise revenues and profitability occurred through spillovers from increased local demand and industry linkages with registered enterprises. Our findings lend support to the view that banks can serve as vehicles for pro-poor growth.
Financial Market Structure and the Supply of Safe Assets: An Analysis of the Leveraged Loan Market (G2)
I study dynamic collateral management in a setting where financial intermediaries can replace deteriorated loans through secondary market trading. Such trades increase the supply of safe assets beyond the level produced by static pooling and tranching. However, collateral substitution generates investment and financing externalities across intermediaries, resulting in an inefficiency: too many intermediaries issue safe debt, but they underproduce safe assets relative to a constrained efficient benchmark. Simple policy interventions targeting only one side of intermediary balance sheets may exacerbate the inefficiency. I apply the model to analyze the leveraged loan market and recent regulatory changes on collateralized loan obligations.
Financial or Non-financial Shocks: Rivals That Play Together (G0, E3)
This paper estimates a model using Bayesian methods and data from the US (1990Q1- 2019Q2) to explore how the financial sector contributes to business cycles through banks’ asset reallocation channel and the quality of capital adequacy constraint. The paper shows that the contribution of financial and non-financial shocks has varied before, during and after the recent financial crisis; housing demand and asset price shocks are the main contributors and the credit shocks are the most persistent. In addition, the paper presents the application of macroprudential tools, along with their impact on the economy in general, and on welfare in particular. The findings illustrate that the tools which control household borrowing ability, such as loan-to-value or debt-to-income ratios, do not impact welfare significantly.
However, the impact of policies on the leveraged sector is substantial. The paper proposes macroprudential policies that allow policy makers to stabilize the economy without changing welfare. Such policies, however, should be timely, targeted and temporary, otherwise they may cause disruptions.
Financial Sanctions and the Transformation of the Global Banking Network (F5, F3)
Since the 2010s, targeted and secondary financial sanctions have become the most powerful and widely used tool of the United States’ economic statecraft. While it contributes to containing money laundering and terrorist financing activities, it is unclear how banks might be affected by these measures and how they will respond? This paper creates an original dataset of over 3,000 active and defunct banking branches and subsidiaries of 39 global systematically important banks (G-SIBs). The dataset traces changes in these banks’ ownership and status between 1990 and 2020. We find that financial sanctions have re-shaped the global banking network. In particular, large European banking groups are hit heavily by these sanctions. Rising compliance cost has forced them to close their branches and subsidiaries in high risk and low yield regions such as the Caribbean, Africa, and the Middle East. When these banks retreat, regional banks and Chinese banks are rising and quickly taking over their positions. Interestingly, American banks have also strengthened their positions in the global banking network during the past ten years. This paper is primarily a descriptive study. It aims to present how financial sanctions have re-shaped the global banking network, and it explores potential new research directions on the banking industry.
Financing Mechanism of Green Fund: Behavioral of Government, Social Capital and Enterprise (G4, H3)
In order to adapt to climate change, the Green Climate Fund(GCF) helps developing countries build green projects, but developing countries are still experiencing huge financial gaps. In response to carbon emission target, China has established the National Green Development Fund in 2020, and local governments have established green funds from 2017 to 2021.We summarize that the common model of green funds is that fiscal funds or government-guided funds are used as parent funds, and sub-funds are set up to leverage the participation of social capital. We used assumption of investors' bounded rationality, constructed dynamic evolutionary game models built with three participants, which include the government, social capital and enterprises. Use dynamic evolutionary game model and numerical simulation analysis method to discuss the equilibrium strategy and influence mechanism of attracting social capital investment.
We found that the green investment of social capital is affected by the government's attitude, incentive policies, and risk sharing. Enterprises should make correct use of green funds, and accept the supervision of fund management companies to ensure the environmental effect of green funds. In order to mobilize private, institutional, and commercial financing for climate change mitigation and adaptation, the government should give full play to its leverage in the green fund, focusing on government guidance and market operation, to build greener projects and adapt to climate change.
Firm Heterogeneity and the Capital Market (E2, G3)
I investigate the importance of different types of financial constraints on firms for the transmission of external equity demand shocks and monetary policy shocks.
External equity financing shocks are constructed from firm microdata using the novel Granular Instrumental Variable methodology. I find that firms with high expected future profitability increase their investment relatively more when capital market funding conditions are exogenously improved. The relevance of Tobin's Q however, cannot be confirmed for the transmission of monetary policy shocks. Instead highly indebted firms react more sensitively in their investment response to interest rate changes. A contrast arises in the implications of both types of funding shocks on the relaxation of firm borrowing constraints. My results imply that policymakers have to consider the role of both monetary policy conditions and access to capital markets to stimulate firm investment.
Firm Revenue Elasticity and Business Cycle Behaviour (E3, D2)
Recent literature on market power in macroeconomics notes the limitations of using revenue elasticities to proxy output elasticities when estimating markups. Although revenue elasticities may not unlock markups, we can -- to some extent -- circumvent markup estimation and use revenue elasticities to study business cycle dynamics. Using U.S. firm-level data, we measure revenue elasticities and estimate impulse responses using local projections. We present theory to show higher revenue elasticity firms generate greater business cycle amplification and find empirical evidence consistent with this theory.
Firm-Bank Relationships: A Cross-Country Comparison (G2, E5)
We document the structure of firm-bank relationships across the Euro area countries and present new stylised facts using novel data from the recent credit registry of the Eurosystem. The main findings are the following. First, the number of firm-bank relationships varies significantly across firm size and across countries in the EA. Even though the number of relationships is increasing with firm size in all countries, the absolute number of relationships differs across countries. The median firm in Italy, Spain, and Portugal has at least one more bank relationship than a firm in Ireland, the Netherlands, Germany and Austria, controlling for the firm size and industry. Second, the median firm in all countries appears to have a main bank that lends at least half of the firm's total credit. Still, there is a significant heterogeneity across countries and firms size on the credit concentration, with firms in Spain, Italy, and Portugal to depend less on their main bank compared to firms in Ireland and the Netherlands, where the share of the main bank is almost equal to one. Lastly, differences in the credit contracts are also identified. In Spain, Portugal, Italy, and France debt contracts with shorter maturities such as trade receivables correspond to a larger share of the total credit, while in Germany and the Netherlands most of the credit is allocated in contracts with longer maturities, such as collateralized loans and revolving credit. Such differences appear to be correlated with the structure of the firm-bank relationships and at the same time could have important implications for investment decisions in long-run projects. Overall, the paper highlights the noteworthy heterogeneity in the firm-bank relationships across the Euro area countries that is linked with the growth of the corporate sector, but also with the firms' exposure to a bank shock.
Firm-level Political Risk and Debt Choice (G2, G3)
In this study, we examine the effect of firm-level political risk on debt financing choices. Using a U.S. sample, our investigation indicates that firms with higher political risk significantly prefer issuing private debt to public debt. Such a finding is robust to the tests addressing endogeneity concerns, including a test using the disagreement among the congress representatives as an instrumental variable and a difference-in-difference test using the beginning of Iraq War as the experiment. We identify several reasons of our findings and provide supportive empirical evidence. Firstly, our results are more pronounced when a borrower has higher default probability, lower asset liquidity, and higher financial statement transparency in a period of high policy uncertainty. These findings are consistent with the notions that private lenders are advantageous because they can efficiently manage the reorganization process when the borrowers are financially distressed, and because they can continue updating their information regarding a borrower when the policy uncertainty rises. Next, we find evidence that there exists an implicit contract between a borrower and its relationship bank, following which a borrower accepts less favorable terms during normal times in exchange for the lender’s support during difficult times. Taken together, this study advances our understanding of how political risk influences financing decisions and highlights the cross-sectional heterogeneity in the level of political risk facing individual firms.
Fiscal Stimulus and Firms: Profitability during the Global Financial Crisis (E6, H6)
This paper examines how fiscal stimulus impacted corporate profitability during the global financial crisis. Using Worldscope data for more than 66,600 non-financial firms in 52 advanced and emerging economies between 2008 and 2010, it finds that a decrease in the structural fiscal balance has a significant effect on the profitability of the sampled firms. A decline of one percent of potential GDP in the structural balance is associated with a 1.2 percentage point increase in the profit (relative to total assets) of the panel average firm. The effect has a greater statistical significance in advanced economies compared to emerging ones, and in Europe and Asia than in other regions. It differs across industries, being felt most significantly in manufacturing and construction industries and having key implications for the fiscal response to shocks at industry- and firm levels.
Follow-Thy-Neighbor? Spillovers of Asset Purchases within the Real Sector (D2, E5)
Market participants are interconnected and events which affect some entities can disseminate through the economy due to agglomeration spillovers, local aggregate demand effects or competition between firms. By exploiting the first large sovereign bond purchase program of the ECB, the securities market program (SMP), this paper investigates whether asset purchases induce spillover effects between treated and non-treated firms. I compare firms linked to banks which held SMP eligible assets to firms linked to banks which did not hold SMP eligible assets and take spillover effects between and within the two groups into account. When ignoring spillovers in the assessment of real effects, there is no difference between treated and control firms. In contrast, when taking spillovers between firms into account, directly treated firms invest less and induce negative spillovers on firms operating in the same industry and region. The paper shows the importance to consider spillover effects when assessing the real effects of unconventional monetary policy: when neglected, spillovers can cover up direct effects.
Forecasting with Panel Augmented Macroeconomic Data using Recurrent Neural Networks and AutoML (E3, C6)
A fundamental problem in macroeconomics is the external validity of time series models. Typical macroeconomic data only has approximately 300 quarterly time steps, which implies the best reduced-form models are linear. Structural models often require priors and to heavily borrow from microeconomics research to identify parameters. We propose a simple data augmentation: training reduced-form and structural models with a panel of countries, instead of the single country of interest. This augmentation improves the GDP RMSE forecasting performance of AR(2), VAR(1), and VAR(4) models over 1 to 5 horizons by an average of 15 percent, compared to a single country baseline. This also seems to make models more policy invariant, as country out-of-sample forecasts, where data on every country but the country of interest is used, outperforms, achieving roughly half the RMSE performance improvements of using the entire panel of countries. Furthermore, we document similar generalization gains for DSGE models like the Smets-Wouters model, suggesting that the external validity of estimation and calibration could benefit from matching moments on a panel of countries rather than just the United States or other baseline data sets. This procedure is easy to implement and can immediately improve the external validity of most macroeconomic models. Finally, as the effective data size has increased, we test more non-parametric machine learning models on this data set. We use both a recurrent neural network and AutoML, which performs a horse-race of many machine learning models and reports the best performing model on the validation set. We show that before the data augmentation, these methods perform poorly on test sets, but with the augmented data, the AutoML, a rough proxy for excellent non-parametric machine learning performance, outperforms all baseline economic models in 4 of the 5 horizons. This performance is confirmed with robustness checks.
Foreign Aid through Domestic Tax Cuts? Evidence from Multinational Firm Presence in Developing Countries (H2, O1)
This paper studies whether corporate tax cuts in developed countries affect economies in the developing world. We focus on one of the most prominent fiscal policies – the corporate income tax regime – and study a major U.K. tax cut as an exogenous shock to foreign investment in Africa. Difference-in-differences estimates show that multinational U.K. firms increase their subsidiary presence in sub-Saharan Africa by 17-24 percent following the 2010 announcement of U.K. tax rate reductions. Exploiting location-specific nighttime luminosity data as well as local data from the African Demographic and Health Surveys, we also document increased economic activity and higher employment rates of African citizens within close proximity (10 kilometers) of local U.K.-owned subsidiaries. Our findings imply that, beyond the goal of motivating home country investment, developed countries' corporate tax cuts have economic impact in developing nations.
Foreign Reserves, Fiscal Capacity and Lender of Last Resort (F3, O1)
Why do emerging markets accumulate foreign reserves for precautionary purposes while advanced economies do not? In this paper, I argue that, in contrast to advanced economies, developing countries accumulate reserves because they lack the sufficient fiscal capacity - ability to extract resources from its citizens - to provide liquidity during market stress events successfully. Thus, by accumulating reserves, emerging countries can emulate advanced economies and eliminate any exposure to a sudden stop. However, since accumulating reserves is costly, a country might choose to remain exposed to sudden stops. This decision depends on the trade-off between the expected welfare losses of a sudden stop, and the cost of accumulating the necessary amount of reserves to eliminate this exposure which is a function of the level of fiscal capacity. To show this argument, I develop a theoretical model of small open economy that borrows from international market where funding costs are driven by a global financial cycle. Moreover, I present supporting empirical evidence for a sample of 98 countries between 1991 and 2016 of this non-linear relationship between fiscal capacity and foreign reserves. In terms of policy, this paper links fiscal capacity with an economy's resilience to global shocks. Thus, countries should not shy away of strengthening their institutions for tax compliance.
Fossil Fuel Equity Bias (G4, Q5)
Public markets represent an important channel for raising additional funds for green investments. In this paper, we develop a theoretical framework to describe potential behavioral biases in equity markets that can lead to underinvestment in green assets. Investors’ preference for holding fossil fuel based assets relative to emerging green assets might stem from the existence of an information asymmetry between the two types of assets with respect their expected payoffs and risks. The effort and cost for gathering information on newly emerging technologies are not the same for the already established ones. We rationalize an underdiversified portfolio through a combined learning-investment model. Building upon the literature of investment under incomplete information, we derive a (Merton type) continuous-time stochastic learning-investment model, where investors chose both the optimal degree of attention to private information and portfolio weights. Attention to information is incorporated as an explicit cost, and directly affects the utility of the investor. High information costs reduce the ability of the risk-averse investor to learn about the underlying asset, which would allow her to reduce the uncertainty about the equity’s expected mean-returns. Hence, with a high level of uncertainty and high information costs, investors are inclined to favor more familiar assets. To achieve the targets aimed at limiting the negative effects of climate change there is a need for a greater involvement of the financial sector. Climate policies, on top of the current fundamentals, can be designed to reduce the uncertainty evolving around the performance of green assets.
FX Hedging, Currency Choice, and Dollar Dominance (F3, E3)
We study how foreign-exchange (FX) hedging affects firms’ currency choice and exchange-rate pass-through dynamics. We develop a theoretical model that features dynamic currency choice with incomplete pass-through and limited access to FX derivatives markets. Our model predicts that having access to FX hedging favours foreign currency pricing when firms are risk-averse. We test and quantify these theoretical results by using novel French product-level data on exports to extra-EU countries and their FX derivatives positions. We find that, given the level of local currency volatility exporters face, having access to FX hedging largely favours US dollar pricing, while it does not influence local currency pricing. This means that easier access to FX hedging markets contributes to explaining dollar dominance in global trade. Furthermore, we document that FX hedging is associated with persistent lower levels of exchange-rate pass-through into export prices.
Gain without Pain? Non-Tariff Measures, Plants’ Productivity and Markups (F1, L2)
This paper studies how productivity and markups respond to non-tariff measures (NTMs). We build a novel time-varying dataset on all NTMs applied to imported prod- ucts by Indonesia. Using price and quantity information, we disentangle the impact of NTMs on plants’ technical efficiency and markups. We find that on average, NTMs generate fewer distortions than import tariffs. However, while specific NTMs increase the quality of the products on which they are applied, others act as barriers to trade similar to import tariffs. These results suggest that in order to gauge their impacts and guide policy-making, NTMs should not be bundled together in empirical analyses.
Gender Bias in Education Expenditure in Iraq: Evidence from Household Socio-Economic Survey (I2, O1)
This paper examines the nature, scope, and plausible determinants of gender discrimination in allocating household resources by examining the education expenditure on boys' and girls' education in Iraq. Using data from the household expenditure survey conducted in 2007, as expected, we find a strong male bias in household resource allocation in Iraq. However, there exist considerable variations in this bias depending on the age of the child, income level of the household, rural-urban divide, and the regions of Iraq. These results suggest that parents' allocation of resources for education expenditure for boys and girls is motivated by the economic interest of the households. This suggests that changing the incentive structure such as targeted employment opportunities for women, better access to childcare and health care, and better physical and social infrastructure would help attain gender equality.
Gender Differences In Reaction To Enforcement Mechanisms: A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment (C9, G2)
We followed 58,345 borrowers from a peer-to-peer lending platform to study how women and men react to enforcement mechanisms differently. In the experiment, borrowers were randomized into treatments where they received different text messages urging for timely repayment if they had loans due the next day. Compared to a reminder message, the messages inducing social pressures and financial incentives reduced the overdue rate for both genders. However, females were more responsive to messages producing social pressures, while males were more responsive to financial incentives. The results imply the potential importance of a gender-dependent mechanism to enhance compliance.
Gender, Group Liability and Moral Hazard in Microfinance (G4, Z1)
This study examines whether social context and norms lead to gender differences in moral hazard behavior among microfinance borrowers by conducting microfinance field experiments in comparable matrilineal and patrilineal societies in India. This paper also takes the first step to analyze the strategic interaction of the constituent components of default which is not explored in the prior literature in microfinance experiments. The previous experiments in microfinance have focused primarily on only one of the two moral hazards (ex-ante moral hazard and ex-post moral hazard) channels through which default occurs while abstracting from the other (Abbink et al. 2006, Kono 2006, Gine et al. 2010). Our experiment can thus be viewed as a generalized version of the previous experiments on moral hazard in microfinance. Our experimental design allows us to isolate the two moral hazard channels by incorporating three treatments which are, the ex-ante game treatment where subjects’ only make decisions over project choice, the ex-post game treatment where subjects’ only make decisions over repayment choice and the full game treatment where subjects’ make decisions over both project and repayment choice. Thus, decomposing the moral hazard channels, we find that matrilineal women become more prone to ex-post moral hazard when there is no possibility of ex-ante moral hazard and vice versa. We also find that in patrilineal societies, women are significantly less prone to exhibit ex-post moral hazard, but we observe a reversal of gender effect in the matrilineal society. Our results thus suggest that gender difference in moral hazard is driven by the social context, norms and gender roles in different societies.
Getting on the Wagon: Decreasing Alcohol Abuse to Improve Rural Well-being (O1, I3)
A major global social and economic problem is the widespread abuse of alcohol. In western Kenya, a highly populated area with significant levels of rural poverty, illicit sale and consumption of locally brewed spirits is causing significant negative societal impacts: harming health, decreasing agricultural productivity, and leading to intra-household conflict. We implemented a randomized control trial across a wide area of western Kenya in which treatment group households received three days of group training along with a longer period of individual and household-level counseling with the objective to decrease substance abuse. Findings show that training attendance and alcohol counseling significantly decreased alcohol usage relative a control group as measured by both self and spouse reported consumption levels. The study also shows that treated households increased their time spent in agricultural work and decreased reporting of intimate partner violence (IPV) by the spouse relative to the control group. Experimental auctions for agricultural inputs also show those exposed to alcohol counseling have greater willingness to pay for productivity-enhancing agricultural inputs than those in the control group and were more willing to share information about experimental auction winnings with their spouse. A cost-benefit analysis shows that simple alcohol counseling can lead to significant net benefits through increased agricultural productivity and decreased IPV.
Global Confidence, Uncertainty, and Business Cycles (E2, F1)
This paper investigates the role of global confidence cycles, measured as the common factor across a wide range of survey-based business or consumer confidence indicators in global macroeconomic fluctuations over 1985-2019. We estimate a factor-augmented vector autoregression model, where global confidence shocks are identified through recursive restrictions. We report three main results. First, the global confidence cycles, in particular that of consumer confidence, have played a key role in global business cycle fluctuations, explaining over a third of total variations. Second, while global business confidence shocks are in nature demand-driven, global consumer confidence seems to reflect both demand and supply shocks, in line with “animal spirit” and “news” views on the relationship between confidence and economic activities. Third, the shifts in global confidence are not necessarily accounted for by uncertainty shocks. Instead, confidence acts as an important channel in the transmission of uncertainty shocks. The results are robust to alternative identification using a novel set of external instruments, alternative variable orderings, and different uncertainty measures.
Global prices and internal migration: Evidence from the palm oil boom in Indonesia (F6, O1)
I study how regions respond to price shocks in the presence of internal migration. I examine Indonesia in the 2000s as it faced a commodity boom for palm oil, which became one of its main export commodities. I exploit the variation in the land shares and crop suitability to compute the potential contribution of main crops across district economies as a measure of local exposure to shocks. I find that the commodity boom increased the purchasing power of palm oil-producing districts. These districts also received more migration, providing evidence that palm oil price shocks were no longer localized. Indeed, internal migration spread the windfall. I also find spillover to neighboring districts. However, these relatively higher levels of purchasing power did not last after the commodity boom ended in 2014. I show that the palm-oil sector grew through extensification as a response to the price shocks, with no indication of growth through intensification. I estimate the overall welfare gains in Indonesia between 2005 and 2010 and find substantial gains from migration.
Global Share Repurchases Over the Business Cycle (G3, E3)
Using a dataset that covers details of repurchase cases across the globe, we comprehensively analyze how repurchase motives, details, and consequences vary over the business cycle. We find that in economic recession, firms buy back stocks to bring up undervalued stock price or to enhance market liquidity, and their repurchase announcements are accompanied by higher short-term stock returns and a lower completion rate. In expansion periods, firms repurchase to distribute excess cash; their announcements are followed by less inefficient investment, higher long-term returns and a higher completion rate.
Global Value Chains and the Dynamics of UK Inflation (E3, F1)
This paper investigates the relationship between the involvement of the UK economy in global markets and its inflation dynamics. We first document that the UK Phillips curve started to flatten in the early 1980s with a significant change in the slope in the late 1990s and show that this change is strongly associated to trade openness. We then use disaggregate data to show that the interaction between the sectoral and source-country dimensions crucially affect the slope of the UK Phillips curve: we uncover robust evidence that UK industries with higher shares of intermediate imports from Emerging Market Economies have flatter Phillips curves. Interestingly, while integration with China is an important force behind this result, integration with other Emerging Market Economies also plays a significant role in putting downward pressure on UK inflation. Our empirical findings are consistent with a two-country, multi-sector model where firms use intermediate goods from home and foreign industries in addition to the labor in production.
Going Universal. The Impact of Free School Lunches on Child Bodyweight Outcomes (I1, H4)
In recent years, several countries have switched from means-tested to universal provision of free school meals to increase meal uptake, reduce stigma and combat childhood obesity. Evidence on the success of such policies is lacking. We study the impact on young children's bodyweight of a switch to universal provision of nutritious free school meals in England, using unique high-quality data on children’s height and weight collected by trained nurses in schools. We exploit identifying variation in the timing of weight measurements in a difference-in-difference framework which allows us to show how bodyweight outcomes evolve as dosage of free meals increases throughout the school year.
We find that exposure to high quality universal free lunches increases healthy weight prevalence and reduces obesity prevalence and BMI by the end of the first year of school. The effect is driven by substitution of low-quality home-produced lunches with school meals among children not eligible under means-testing, while we find no evidence of income or parental labour supply effects. This suggests universal provision can improve the diets of relatively well-off pupils.
We contribute to the literature by evaluating a policy that is a relevant policy option in the large number of countries that already run high quality, means-tested free meal policies. We also contribute to the wider literature on the relative advantages of universalism versus targeting or means-testing and on the role of in-kind transfers in promoting child welfare. Our results suggest that parents from a wide range of backgrounds face time and/or information constraints in preparing their children’s diets which mean that there is a role for universal food provision in school to reduce childhood obesity.
Grandfathers and Grandsons: Social Security Expansion and Child Health in China (I1, D1)
We examine the multigenerational impacts of a nationwide social pension program in China, the New Rural Pension Scheme (NRPS). NRPS was rolled out in full scale since 2012 and enrollees age over 60 in rural areas are eligible to receive at least 70 CNY non-contributory monthly pension. We use household age eligibility change over time and across households to identify the impacts of NRPS on child health. We find NRPS substantially increases grandchild's weight, but not height. Child BMI z score increases by 0.9-1.1. We find a novel gender pattern that the impacts are likely to be driven by grandfather's pension receipt, and are more salient in boys subsample. Grandsons living with NRPS eligible grandfathers are more likely to be overweight/obese. We explore the mechanism and find the impacts are more plausible to be driven by a mixture of income effects and son preference.
Growing like Germany: Local Public Debt, Local Banks, Low Private Investment (G2, E6)
Using a firm-bank panel of more than 1m German firms over 2010-2016, we document that local public bank lending to municipalities crowds out private investment. Our results show how crowding-out can happen in a developed economy characterized by low interest rates and fiscal austerity. Our mechanism relies on two structural features of Germany's banking landscape: First, the geographical segmentation of credit markets for small and medium firms (SME) which are dominated by local banks. Secondly, a special statutory mandate requiring local public banks to lend to municipalities. With yields on local government debt declining to all-time lows, local public banks tried to alleviate stress on their balance sheets by using their local market power to charge higher rates on their SME customers. This crowded out firm investment. Perversely, fiscal consolidation at the state and federal levels contributed to this effect by putting pressure on the budgets of municipal governments which increasingly borrowed from local public banks. Crowding-out lowered aggregate private investment by around 30-40 bio euros per year (or 1 percent of GDP). Thus, we identify a novel channel through which low interest rates can adversely affect bank lending and firm performance. Our results also illustrate how segmented credit markets can amplify negative multiplier effects from fiscal austerity.
Hadwiger Separability, or: Turing Meets Von Neumann and Morgenstern (D9, D8)
It can be time-intensive to make optimal choices. This is especially true in settings where people make many related choices at once. To ensure that decisions are made in a reasonable amount of time, people often follow heuristics that isolate -- or separate -- some of their choices from others. A sizable empirical literature on choice bracketing and related phenomena provides evidence for this kind of behavior.
This paper incorporates time constraints into decision theory, and uses the resulting framework to better understand how and why people separate choices.
I combine classic approaches in decision theory and computational complexity theory to obtain a model of a time-constrained agent. There are three ingredients to my model: choice under risk, time constraints, and high-dimensionality. I begin with a standard model of choice under risk. Then I introduce time constraints: for any given menu, the agent must express her choice within polynomial time. If a choice correspondence can be executed by an algorithm that respects this time constraint, it is called "computationally tractable". Finally, I specialize the model to focus on high-dimensional problems where the agent makes many related choices at once.
Theorem 1 shows that a time-constrained agent who satisfies the expected utility axioms must have a Hadwiger separable Bernoulli utility function. Hadwiger separability relaxes additive separability by allowing for complementarities and substitutions, but limiting their frequency. Note that, like many results in computational complexity, this theorem relies on conjectures that well-known problems are computationally hard (e.g. P\neq NP).
Theorem 2 provides a partial converse to theorem 1.
Theorem 3 shows that time-constrained agents may be better off violating the expected utility axioms, even if they intrinsically want to maximize expected utility. My result quantifies "better off".
Finally, I explore applications to demand estimation with many products/characteristics.
Happiness, Productivity and Willingness to Compete (C9, J0)
Is happiness a necessary attribute of a successful employee? This paper analyses productivity and willingness to compete (WTC) as two measures of employee success. It conducts an online experiment on 645 respondents with real-effort tasks eliciting productivity and WTC for different levels of happiness. No effect of happiness is obtained despite sufficient statistical power. One explanation is that affective happiness does not shift behavioural preferences like risk aversion enough. In contrast, more established alternative features such as pay scheme and gender shift both behavioural preferences and objective outcomes significantly.
Happy to Help: The Welfare Effects of a Nation-Wide Micro-Volunteering Programme (I3, D6)
We estimate the wellbeing benefits from volunteering for England’s National Health Service (NHS) Volunteer Responders programme, which was set up in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. Using a sample of over 9,000 volunteers, we exploit the oversubscription of the programme and the random assignment of tasks via a smartphone app to estimate causal wellbeing returns, across multiple counterfactuals. We find that volunteers report significantly stronger personal wellbeing and feelings of belongingness and social connectedness to their local communities. A social welfare analysis shows that the benefits of the programme were at least 140 times greater than its costs. Our paper is the first to study the welfare effects of a large-scale, nation-wide micro-volunteering programme based on an app that flexibly allocates small (‘micro’) tasks directly from those in need to those who want to help. Our findings advance our understanding of the ways in which pro-social behaviours can improve personal wellbeing as well as social welfare.
Healthcare Reform: Equity versus Efficiency (I1, I3)
In this paper we conduct an ex-ante evaluation of a health insurance reform in Chile that has an increase in equity as its main objective. Currently, the private system offers actuarially fair insurance policies (the efficiency component). New legislation, however, mandates that premiums should be non-discriminatory with respect to age and gender in the private health insurance system (the equity component), while maintaining premiums the public insurance system, which is determined solely by the individual’s income, unchanged. We develop a heterogeneous agent model of choice of both consumption-saving and private-versus-public health insurance, which we estimate using data on insurance claims in the private system and from Chile’s Household Budget Survey, Employment Survey, National Socioeconomic Characterization Survey, and the Survey of Household Finances. We discuss different microeconomic and macroeconomic outcomes such as health-risk taking, consumption-saving and welfare. The counterfactual analysis findings arise from the resulting risk characteristics of the new pooling equilibrium that would prevail in the private system after the reform. Namely, there are liquidity effects (changes in premiums) in the short term that would favor of high-risk individuals (who would pay less for private insurance, encouraging some to move towards the private system), while the opposite outcome takes place for low-risk individuals who stay in the private system or are forced to move to the public system, which generally has lower coverage. We also find an average positive but heterogenous welfare effect of the reform, which includes a reduced need for subsidizing the public system due to the drop in the risk-skimming behavior traditionally shown by private insurers. This result is an example of a non-discriminatory policy change that can be supported from a traditional economic point of view.
Healthy, nudged, and wise: Experimental evidence on the role of cost reminders in healthy decision-making (I1, D9)
We evaluate the performance of two behavioral interventions aimed at reducing tobacco consumption in an ultra-poor, rural region of Bangladesh where conventional methods like taxes and warning labels are infeasible. The first intervention asked participants to daily log their tobacco consumption expenditure. The second intervention placed two graphic posters warning participating households of the harmful effects of tobacco consumption on their children and themselves in their sleeping quarters. While both interventions reduced household tobacco consumption expenditure, male participants who logged their expenditure substituted cigarettes with cheaper smokeless tobacco. Risk-averse males who spent relatively more on tobacco responded more to the logbook intervention. Relatively more educated, patient males with children below age five responded better to the poster intervention. The findings suggest extending policies that worked elsewhere to the rural poor in developing countries, where cheaper substitutes are readily available, might be unwise. Instead, policies can leverage something as universal as parents' concern for their children's health for promoting healthy decision-making.
Heterogeneous Earnings Risk in Incomplete Markets (C3, E2)
This paper provides a novel characterization of time-varying heterogeneous earnings risk through a Markov process with heterogeneous transition probabilities. The resulting earnings process allows for a richer notion of earnings risk heterogeneity than previously studied by the literature. Assumptions are derived under which a combination of savings and earnings data can be used to identify the earnings process parameters. Alternatively, a narrower interpretation of earnings risk can be adopted, limiting risk heterogeneity to heterogeneous variances of earnings shocks, such that the earnings process is identifiable from earnings data only. This gives rise to two identification strategies. Applying both strategies to the Survey of Income and Program Participation dataset shows that individuals face considerable inequality of earnings risk. High-risk states are found to be temporary, while low-risk states are persistent. Comparing both strategies shows that only allowing for variance heterogeneity is too restrictive, and a rich notion of risk is required to capture the joint dynamics of individuals' savings and earnings.
Heterogeneous Effects of Conditional Cash Transfers and Extended School Day Program on Academic Achievement: Evidence from Dominican Republic (I2, O3)
There is abundant evidence documenting the impact of CCTs on educational outcomes focused on enrollment, attendance, dropout, and graduation; but instances that use and find impacts on learning outcomes are still scant. Furthermore, social policy impact studies usually evaluate effects on educational outcomes excluding interactions with education policies. Exploiting the expansion of the extended school day program that reached a coverage of more than 50% of total public enrollment in the Dominican Republic by 2019, and the administration of nationwide diagnostics tests during 2017- 2019 by the Ministry of the Education on three student cohorts (N = 503,828), we implement a regression discontinuity design taking advantage of the conditional cash transfer allocation rules and merging it with the beneficiary registry (Sistema Unico de Beneficiarios - SIUBEN) and households transfers records, providing us a valid comparison framework. We also employ recently developed ML quasi-experimental estimators to study heterogenous effects. Preliminary results indicate that there are no differences in academic achievement of students from beneficiary and non-beneficiary households, but we find heterogeneous positives effects in beneficiaries who have been included in the extended school day program.
Heterogeneous Returns to Medical Innovations (I1, J2)
This paper sets up a quasi-experiment to estimate the impact of medical innovations on the economic outcomes for the individual and their family based on the rich administrative data for Sweden covering 1 million persons. I find that an increase in medical innovations by one standard deviation raises family income by 15%. Medical innovations strongly influence not only own disposable and labour income and welfare payments but also a spouse’s income. I also find that the economic effects are heterogeneous in relation to the insurance eligibility of the health shock. Results also suggest decreasing yet always positive returns to scale.
Hiding Filthy Lucre in Plain Sight: Theory and Identification of Business-Based Money Laundering (K4, F3)
Money laundering is the process of moving proceeds from illicit activities into the legal economy. We develop a monopolistic competition model incorporating a criminal enterprise which chooses between laundering through offshore financial investments or through acquiring legitimate establishments, called business-based money laundering. We use off-shore accounts links to measure the exposure of U.S. counties to the evolution of anti-money-laundering regulations in Caribbean jurisdictions. We find that the number of business establishments grows significantly more in counties that are exposed to sharper financial scrutiny abroad, providing the first empirical evidence of substitution between the two laundering channels.
High Frequency Trading and Price Discovery in the Foreign Exchange Market (F3, G1)
We study the effect of high-frequency trading (HFT) on the intraday trading of currencies at the platform of Electronic Broking Services (EBS). We use the realized variance-based information share to measure the price discovery efficacy and find that the contribution of HFT is time-varying and is highest during the overlapping trading hours of London and New York, after dividing the 24-hour trading of FX markets into Asian, European, London-NY overlapping and U.S. sessions. Our new evidence shows that the liquidity supply from HFT accounts for the improvement of price discovery attributed to HFT, while the arrival of new information around macroeconomic announcements does not weaken the contribution of HFT to price discovery.
Historical Anti-Semitism and Firm Access to Finance (G2, G3)
This paper analyzes the effects of anti-Jewish pogroms in the historical “Pale of Settlement” on the access to informal finance of present-day firms in East Europe. While historical anti-Semitic pogroms are associated with higher general trust among the present-day residents, this runs in parallel with a lower trust in finance, with this financial-antipathy mechanism dominating the net effect. Firms located in regions with a higher historical intensity of pogroms tend to experience higher financial constraints, accompanied by a reduced access to external credit, and a lower propensity to invest. These effects diminish with distance from pogrom activity, which further indicates a cultural link to local historical anti-Semitism. Our results are not driven by the experiences of the Holocaust or a Communist regime. Our causal interpretation of the long-lasting effects on financial development of historical discrimination against Jews is supported by the results of identification strategies based on instrumental variables and regression discontinuity design.
Holy Cow! Religious Violence, Cattle Markets and Social Costs in India (O1, Q1)
We study how religious violence breaks down informal markets, with economic costs for large sections in India. Coinciding with the rise in Hindu nationalism, India recorded an exponential increase in violent attacks on persons suspected of trading cattle (mostly Muslims) for slaughter by cow-vigilante groups in the last decade. We show that this violence led to a drop in cattle trade and that rural households' inability to sell unproductive cattle led to increased cattle abandonment. We construct a novel dataset using a quadrimestral representative panel of Indian households, a state-level panel of road accidents, media reports of vigilante violence, and historical data on Hindu-Muslim conflicts in India. Exploiting the temporal and spatial variation of violence, we causally estimate its impact on the cattle trade market with an event study design. We show that violence led to a more than 10 percent decline in cattle holdings among households in the affected regions. Next, we causally identify the effect of violence on the number of stray cattle using a proxy measure: the number of road accidents due to stray cattle. We construct a Bartik instrument for vigilante violence using historical Hindu-Muslim conflicts (1950 - 2000) to find an alarming 200% increase in road accidents due to stray cattle in affected regions. The results are consistent with predictions from our theoretical model. Finally, we examine externalities on farmers by conducting a primary household survey in Rajasthan, the largest state, with spatial variation in the violence. We find that farmers self-report extensive crop damages from stray cattle and precautionary costs in regions experiencing violence.
Hospital Ownership and Exposure to Bankruptcy Risk: Evidence from the COVID-19 Impact (G0, I1)
This paper assesses the impact of COVID-19 on the financial stability of hospitals distinguishing by ownership type. We model the COVID-19 impact on the liquidity and solvency metrics of hospitals and identify operational, structural and cyclical factors affecting the bankruptcy risk across counties and census tracts. Most of the typical financial performance data are low frequency. To provide more timely indicators of hospital's financial stress in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, we use high-frequency daily visits to healthcare facilities tracked by smartphones to predict operational indicators that are historically associated with hospital financial distress. We calibrate a model that allows us to estimate a stable relationship between mobility indicators and operational indicators and use it to assess the financial impact of the pandemic. We find that the pandemic affected hospitals in 2020 differently according to their ownership structure. In particular, investor-owned hospitals experienced significantly more financial distress than others. We predict that 27.55% of all hospitals will become financially distress after 2020, up 0.69 percentage points from 2019. In contrast, 37.80% of investor owned hospitals are predicted to become financially distressed, up 5.86 percentage points from 2019. Since investor-owned hospitals are the main providers of specialty treatment such as psychiatric and acute long-term care, the increased financial distress among these hospitals is likely to result in long-term effects on the patients seeking the specialty treatment.
Household Needs Priority and Risky Investments (G5, G2)
We offer the needs priority to explain non-equity participation. After satisfying basic needs but before considering investments, a household has two decisions to make: earmark cash reserves and benchmark its luxury goods consumption. We demonstrate that, without emergency funds, indulgence in a luxury lifestyle will crowd out investment needs. Our analysis predicts that two households with high (low) cash reserves have strong (weak) tolerance on low returns and would keep engaging in or leave risky investments on low return arrivals. Our empirical analysis confirms stay or withdrawal decisions by flow differences across fixed-income mutual funds holding high or low-risk assets.
Household Savings and Monetary Policy under Individual and Aggregate Stochastic Volatility (E5, E3)
We study a heterogeneous-agent model with sticky-prices in which total factor productivity and individual productivity are subject to stochastic volatility shocks. Agents save through liquid bonds and illiquid capital and shares. To construct equilibrium, we use a deep learning algorithm. Our method preserves non-linearities, which is essential for understanding portfolio choices. With rich heterogeneity at the household level, we are able to quantify the impact of uncertainty across the income and wealth distribution. We find that persistent high levels of uncertainty increase wealth inequality, and that in response to a contractionary monetary policy shock, illiquid wealth inequality decreases and liquid wealth inequality increases.
Housing, the Credit Market and Unconventional Monetary Policies: From the Sovereign Crisis to the Great Lockdown (E5, E6)
This paper develops a two-country model of a monetary union to evaluate the interaction between housing, the credit market and unconventional monetary policies first during the ECB’s Asset Purchase Programmes (APP) from 2015 until 2020, then, over the ECB’s Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) in 2020. In this paper the 2020 lockdown is presented as a negative signal from macroeconomic fundamentals which causes labor to grind to a halt. The model is calibrated for the Euro Area and incorporates heterogeneous households, portfolio balance effects, a credit market susceptible to default, and nominal and real rigidities. The model features the housing accelerator and the post-crisis house price double-dip. The findings illustrate the way in which macro-housing channels lead to self-reinforcing loops, affecting the portfolio re-balancing channel as the main way for asset purchases to influence the economy. The results show that asset purchasing performs better during a crisis, particularly if it is conducted for an appropriate extent of time. The findings illustrate that the PEPP should be extended until the covid-19 crisis phase is over and that it alone is not sufficient to accelerate the recovery; more actions, namely targeted fiscal policy, are required. Finally, the APP, PEPP and lockdown are assessed through a welfare analysis.
How Do Firms Adjust When Trade Stops? (F1, D2)
Recent trends in deglobalization and trade wars beg the question of whether firm adjustments observed over the decades of trade liberalization will be reversed in a symmetric fashion.
Indeed, when faced with strong negative demand shocks, firms are likely to adjust on a number of dimensions. Such adjustments might interact with each other and moreover involve a substantial degree of heterogeneity. In fact, many international trade barriers that lead to substantial negative demand shocks are likely to be correlated with the broader economic adjustments. For instance, they may be linked to changes in domestic worker wage expectations and labor supply. Technological shocks may also trigger alterations to trade agreements but are also likely to lead to demand changes directly or through the production function recompositions.
To shed light on the adjustment, we investigate how firms respond to a sudden, unanticipated, and long-lasting negative demand shock. We explore a unique event when due to political reasons, unrelated to concerned firms, the exporters have lost access to a major export market. In particular, we look at an abrupt negative trade shock to food production (food manufacturers) in Lithuania in 2014 after the Russian counter-sanctions on imports from Europe. We build a theory where firms are forward-looking and face nonconvexities in the labor market along with investment decisions which require time to produce productive capital.
By making use of a unique firm-level dataset, consisting of all exporters in the country, we establish that part-time employment is indeed used as the first shock absorber, in line with the theory. Furthermore, we find that more full-time employees are dismissed with a lag when the uncertainty about shock persistence is resolved, particularly among those firms that are more constrained by the availability of flexible adjustment margins. Finally, we show that export market re-orientation is linked to the size and persistence of the trade shock.
How Do Firms Invest? The Role of Astrological Consultations on Investment Expectations and Decisions (E2, E7)
Investment is a key determinant of a nation’s progress. A substantial share of national investment comes from the private sector, where firms need to invest both to keep up with technological progress as well as to develop innovations that will give them a competitive advantage in the market. When planning their investments, firms are faced with substantial uncertainty about future market conditions and need to form expectations about the profitability of such plans. How do firms form such expectations?
In this paper we attempt to address the question by running an experiment on New Zealand firms about their investment plans and decisions. We survey 587 firms about their planned one-year-ahead investment expenditures. We find that firms use astrological predictions when forming their investment expectations and making decisions. We treated a random selection of these firms, 212 in total, with exogenous predictions about their future profits. The predictions are obtained from professional astrologers, where the firm’s returns are predicted to be high (>5%), moderate (1%-5%), or low (<1%). We then conduct a follow-up survey, approximately one year after the first survey, asking how much the firm actually invested in the previous year.
We find that the provision of astrological information led to statistically significant changes in firms’ investment decisions. On average, firms receiving the highest return prediction over-invested about 1 percentage point more than the control group. The effect of the treatment was stronger on firms receiving the lowest return predictions. Namely, on average, firms receiving the prediction of a return below 1% tended to under-invest about 2.7 percentage points more than the firms that did not receive any astrological prediction. These estimates are robust to the inclusion of subsector fixed effects and individual-specific controls such as the firm’s size and age, and the respondent’s age, ethnicity and level of education.
How Do High-Skilled International Students Impact Domestic Students? Evidence from the Post OPT STEM Extension Period (F6, I2)
In this paper, I look at how international students impact domestic students’ academic performances in the US higher education. I focus on the post-2008 period when there was a unique shock of international student enrollment due to the OPT-Stem extension. Using administrative data from a large public university, I find that international students have a slight negative affect on domestic students’ grades and graduation rates in the Engineering and Sciences. However, there is also positive returns to education from interacting with international students conditional on graduating in Engineering. In essence, there is a small cost of international students in terms of increased competition for higher grades but these same forces bring positive externality in learning and eventually higher returns to education.
How Does Maternity Leave Allowance Affect Fertility and Career Decisions? (J1, J2)
The level of compensation during maternity leave varies significantly across countries, yet previous research provides limited insights on its consequences. In this paper, I assess how the generosity of maternity leave allowance affects first-time mothers' subsequent fertility decisions and career trajectory. I exploit the fact that the allowance is capped in Belgium so that women with pre-leave earnings above the maximum threshold face drastically lower replacement rates. Using a regression kink design, as well as a rich set of administrative data on mothers from 2002 to 2015, I find that subsequent fertility increases with the level of benefits: for each additional euro in daily allowance the probability of having a second child increases by 0.6 percentage point. Subsequently, I explore the consequences for their career and show that mothers who receive higher benefits are more likely to leave salaried employment for self-employment. I demonstrate that the transition to self-employment does not affect their earnings in the long run, suggesting that the career changes might reflect non pecuniary preferences. In fact, heterogeneity analysis reveals that those working in sectors with poor work-family balance are more likely to become self-employed.
How Parents’ Beliefs About Their Children’s Academic Ability Affect Educational Investments (I2)
Using a randomized field experiment with parents of high school students in China, I examine the causal effects of parents' belief in their children's ability on educational investment and children's academic performance. I document two types of information frictions that result in systematic biases in parents' beliefs about children's ability: overconfidence in future performance and underestimating college admission requirements. I then introduce two interventions to correct parents' belief biases. In the first intervention, I use machine-learning techniques to generate predictions on children's future academic performance and distribute them to randomly selected parents. In the second intervention, I give randomly selected parents a report that lists the feasible colleges corresponding to their children's current academic performance. I find that both interventions lead to dramatic reductions in belief biases. In addition, parents report higher levels of monetary investments in children's education, which significantly improved children's academic performance. I also find significant non-linearity for the impacts of ability belief on parental educational investments around their aspirations.
Human Capital Effects of Spending Time with Parents: Evidence from a Swedish Childcare Access Reform (I1, I2)
We study the effects of increased opportunities for one-on-one time with a parent during infancy on the human capital formation of children. To this end, we exploit a nationwide reform that mandated Swedish municipalities to offer childcare access for infants' older siblings, while parents were on parental leave to care for their infants. Survey data on childcare enrollment show that the reform had a significant impact on the childcare enrollment of older siblings. Using rich administrative data, we estimate intention-to-treat effects in a differences-in-differences setting, comparing infants with and without siblings of childcare age, pre- and post-reform, in municipalities that were affected the reform. We find no robust overall effects on the children's 6th grade test scores, but we find evidence of positive effects on test scores for sons of less than university educated mothers and daughters of highly educated mothers. Exploring potential pathways, we find no evidence of changes in quantity of parental time during infancy, pointing instead towards the role of improved quality of parent-child interactions as a result of less competition for parental time. We also find that improvements in physical and mental health in school age may have contributed to the positive effect for boys and a lower probability of having a younger sibling may have reduced competition for parental time further and contributed to the improved test scores for girls.
Identification and Estimation of a Dynamic Multi-Object Auction Model (C5, C7)
In this paper I develop an empirical model of bidding and entry behaviour in repeated simultaneous first-price auctions. The model is motivated by the fact that auctions rarely take place in isolation; they are often repeated over time, and multiple heterogeneous lots are regularly auctioned simultaneously. Incorrect modelling of bidders as myopic or as having additive preferences over lots can lead to inaccurate counterfactuals and welfare conclusions.
I prove non-parametric identification of primitives in this model, and introduce a computationally feasible procedure to estimate this type of game. I then use a simulation study to consider the properties of the proposed estimation procedure; I find that the procedure performs at least as well as standard approaches to estimating dynamic games, but takes only a small fraction of the time. I apply the model to data from Michigan's Department of Transport procurement auctions in order to assess the inaccuracies from estimating misspecified static or single-object models.
Identifying Always-the-Same-Rating Reviewers in a One-Sided-Review System Using Big Data Analytics (M3, D8)
In one-sided review systems (e.g., Amazon), product reviews can be written without providing personal information. Consequently, consumers, sellers, and firms have no direct way to evaluate the credibility of the reviewers, limiting the utility of unfiltered Big Data from one-sided review systems. It is therefore imperative to identify and remove potential misleading reviews before estimating and predicting product quality from online reviews. This study identifies ‘Always-the-Same-Rating’ reviewers (ASRs), reviewers that always give the same star rating for all reviewed products. ASRs can generate a self-selection bias, lessening the informativeness of average measures of product quality (e.g., average star ratings). This study identifies ASRs in twenty-nine product categories by analyzing individual 230 million reviews for 15 million products written by 102 million reviewers on Amazon. In detail, ASRs can be divided into two subgroups, ‘Always-the-same-rating reviewers in All categories’ (AiAs) and ‘Always-the-same-rating reviewers in a category’ (AiCs). Surprisingly, the vast majority (99.997%) of AiCs are found to be AiAs; 98.203% of AiA reviewers always give a five-star rating for all reviewed products. The digital music category, in particular, shows a relatively high share and volume of ASRs among all categories, making an ideal focal category for further empirical analysis of ASRs. This study empirically demonstrates that star rating, the usefulness of reviews, length of headline and review, and holiday are potential indicators of reviews written by ASRs. In addition, deep learning models effectively identify reviews written by ASRs, and the positive weighted convolutional neural network (CNN) on top of Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers (BERT) embedding shows higher performance than the unweighted one. Combining text and non-textual data shows a higher predictive performance than the text-only case. The approaches developed in this study will be useful for mitigating the effects of potential self-selection bias in online product reviews and promotional reviews.
Identifying the Heterogeneous Impact of Highly Anticipated Events: Evidence from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (G1, C3)
We develop a method for estimating the stock market impact of aggregate events. Based
on using data on both stock and options prices, our technique accounts for two important
sources of bias present in traditional methods. First, our method takes into account market
anticipation, without the need for information on specific firm characteristics. Many event
studies only measure a fraction of an event’s full value effect, so the measured market reaction at event resolution can be misleading, particularly in the case of a very high degree of market anticipation. Second, our method is robust to the possibility of the event being good news for some firms and bad for others, without prior specification of this heterogeneity.
We apply the method to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA), which exhibits both
anticipation and heterogeneity. We estimate the market anticipated the probability of passage
to be as high as 95% 30 days before the event. The full value impact of the TCJA is found to
be 12.36%, compared to 0.68% when market anticipation is ignored. The firm-level impact of
the TCJA is considerably heterogeneous, with large and innovative firms with high growth
prospects being the largest winners.
Identity Display, Group Selection and Cooperation: A Public Goods Experiment under the Chaoshan and Hakka Culture in China (C9, D7)
Culture can deeply affect economic behaviors, economists and sociologyists have expounded the relevant views for a long time. Under the background of high-level globalization, it is important to understand the relationship between cultural differences and social preferences. This paper uses the method of laboratory experiment, and compares the behavioral differences in cooperation between Chaoshan and Hakka culture in Guangdong, China. As a multi-national country, China always holds the cultural concept of "harmony in diversity". In order to promote multi-national integration and common development, this paper contributes to find an effective coordination mechanism of cooperation in the context of cultural diversity, and therefore introduces two mechanisms of identity display and group selection into the game of public goods. The experiment finds that both identity display and group selection have positive and effective effects on promoting cooperation. When social cooperation is carried out within groups with the same cultural identity, it is of great significance to display culture identity in the cooperation. While when group selection is ensured to be realized, adding a segment of group selection may further promote social cooperation. In general, under the diverse cultural background in China, we can achieve a higher level of social cooperation with the help of culture identity. This research helps to improve the system construction, as well as promote social cooperation and common development in multi-cultural areas.
Idiosyncratic Asset Return and Wage Risk of U.S. Households (E2, D3)
This paper documents the degree of idiosyncratic asset return risk, serial correlation, and correlation with wage risk for US households. Novel panel-data measures for returns on household assets are proposed. Sizeable idiosyncratic return risk is documented to exist concurrently with permanent heterogeneity in household-specific returns and exhibits negative serial correlation. On average, idiosyncratic permanent risk to wages and transitory risk to total asset returns are correlated. This arises primarily from correlated wage and capital gains to primary housing assets, and is age-dependent. The estimates inform the covariance structure of idiosyncratic asset returns and wage risk.
IMF Programs and Financial Flows to Offshore Centers (F3, H0)
This paper examines whether IMF lending is associated with increases in outflows to offshore financial centers (OFCs), known for bank secrecy and asset protection, relative to other international destinations. Using quarterly data from the BIS on bilateral bank deposits, we are unable to detect any positive and statistically significant effect of IMF loan disbursements on bank deposits in OFCs. The result holds even after restricting the sample to the duration of the IMF program, where disbursement quarters and non-disbursement quarters should be subject to similar degrees of macroeconomic stress. It is also robust to using the scheduled tranche of disbursements as an instrument for actual disbursements. While the effects vary by the type and conditionality of the IMF program, as well as the amount of lending, none of the effects are found to be positive and statistically significant. We also estimate whether the recent surge in emergency lending, during the Covid-19 crisis, is associated with an increase in outflows to OFCs but find no evidence to support this.
Impact of COVID-19 on Small Businesses in Big Cities- New Evidence from San Francisco (I1, R1)
Covid-19 has been devastating for small businesses across the nation, particularly in dense urban areas. A literature review of immediate impacts of COVID on small businesses in the US revealed that the knowledge generated using nationally representative data does not allow us to adequately capture local impacts in big cities, especially in high cost of living areas that have seen an exodus of residents and office workers due to shelter-in-place. Small businesses that supported this population have seen a drop-in clientele. Apart from public health guidelines, there have been demand-driven reasons for the hugely negative impacts on small businesses. This has had catastrophic impacts on small business owners and their families and has the potential to change the vibrancy of big cities.
To gather data to further inform the extent of impacts and influence relevant policy-making in San Francisco, we used a community-based participatory research model in which university researchers collaborated with the city’s Small Business Commission, supervisors, and other business stakeholders to come up with a survey instrument that would adequately capture local struggles, barriers, and opportunities. The survey was translated into 8 other languages to capture data from small business owners with attention to equity and social justice issues and was administered between January and February of 2021. Data was collected through merchants associations, commission, and office of workforce lists and is a representative 1% sample.
Results from the study indicate that the pandemic-related closures have negatively impacted more than 80% of businesses in the city. It has had a disproportionate impact on small businesses, particularly arts, restaurants, personal services, gyms, and salons, businesses in certain neighborhoods, owned by ethnic minorities, which might change the city for a long time to come. This study informs policymakers, not only in San Francisco but in similar cities across the nation, that local voice is important for effective policy-making during crises as well as potential ways to support and preserve our communities through this crisis.
Impacts of Teaching Modality on U.S. COVID-19 Spread in Fall 2020 Semester (I1, I2)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and its containment measures, the U.S has implemented partial or full business closures to mitigate the spread. Many U.S. colleges temporarily closed or switched to online in spring 2020, and over six out of ten colleges reopened in fall 2020 with an in-person or a combination of in-person and online teaching plans. College students mainly fall in the age cohort of 18 to 29 years, which has a lower death rate (0.4%) from COVID-19, but a greater chance of socialization than the other age-cohorts.
Given the substantial risk of spread from college campuses to the community, a policy question is whether colleges should hold in-person classes or switch to online or hybrid mode. We combine manually-collected college-level data, National Center for Educational Statistics, the U.S. census, New York Times, and HealthData.gov to predict the chance of a college adopting one of the three modes of teaching: in-person, online, and hybrid; and then estimate the average treatment effects of the modalities on county-level COVID-19 cases and deaths.
In a quasi-experimental approach, we match college and county characteristics using propensity scores, nearest neighbors, and multivariate distance and calculate the average treatment effects of three teaching modalities: in-person, online, and hybrid on COVID-19 outcomes up to two months after college reopening. In pairwise comparison, colleges reopened with in-person teaching mode were found to have about 36% point more cases within 15 days of reopening, compared to those reopened online, and the gap widens over time at a decreasing rate. Death rates follow the pattern with a time lag. However, colleges with hybrid mode catch the pattern of in-person mode after some time. We also find that greater endowment and student population, and fewer republican votes in the county are major predictors of choosing remote teaching modes over in-person.
Impacts of the Covid-19 crisis: Evidence from 2 million UK SMEs (G3, G2)
The Covid-19 pandemic materially reduced UK economic activity and small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) were hardest hit. At the start of 2020 before the pandemic took hold, UK SMEs accounted for around 60% of employment and half of total revenues. In this paper, we use a novel near real-time dataset on the universe of UK SME accounts with major banks to document the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, in terms of turnover and cash flow declines. We use linear regressions and machine learning models to study the path of these variables for SMEs of different sizes, across different regions and sectors of the economy, to document substantial heterogeneity across firms. The dataset comprises monthly information on 2 million SMEs that have current accounts or debt with 9 major banks - roughly 5 billion data points. Our main findings are: the Covid public health interventions coincided with a 30% reduction in turnover year on year for the average SME; there was significant heterogeneity across SMEs, with the biggest reductions for younger SMEs in consumer-facing sectors in Scotland and London; but cash flows did not decline on average and there was much less heterogeneity across SMEs, as a result of substantial government support. Using a probit model, we also document significant heterogeneity, with regards to firm age, turnover and location, in the usage of government guaranteed scheme loans. Our analysis provides a framework to monitor SME developments in the coming months as the corporate sector recovers from the pandemic.
Import Competition, Foreign Inputs, and Labor Adjustment in a Developing Country: Evidence from the Colombian Liberalization (J0, F1)
WWe study how import competition and foreign inputs coming from high-income countries affect employment and earnings in less-developed economies. We use administrative data from Colombia, and exploit exogenous tariff reductions that increased Colombian imports from the United States, to derive five conclusions that contrast with previous findings for high-income economies. First, import competition decreases employment in a similar magnitude that foreign inputs increase it. Second, losses in manufacturing employment are driven by substitution with foreign inputs. Third, labor market adjustment among informal workers occurs by decreased earnings rather than employment. Fourth, high-skilled workers experience significant earnings losses, whereas low-skilled do not, and the effect is focused towards the informal, high-skilled jobs. Fifth, isolated regions experience proportionally larger manufacturing losses. Our results show that international trade between countries with different levels of economic development does not create only winners in developing countries, but, instead, has highly heterogeneous responses that contrast with those found within developed economies.
Incentive Pay Prior to CEO Turnover When Effort Choices Have Lasting Effects (G3, J3)
We present a modified principal-agent model to identify a link between the anticipated likelihood of future CEO turnover and the optimal sensitivity of incentive pay to firm performance. The analysis focuses on the optimal sequence of standard one-period incentive contracts when CEO effort choices have lasting effects on firm performance. In such a model, an increase in the anticipated likelihood of turnover reduces the impact of future incentive contracts on current CEO effort, and induces a compensatory increase in the optimal sensitivity of current CEO compensation to current firm performance. We find empirical evidence in support of this prediction for a sample of over 3,000 US firms. Using an executive-specific fixed effects model, we find that among CEOs who depart within two years, the sensitivity of current incentive pay to changes in current firm performance is greater when there is a higher anticipated likelihood of CEO turnover as proxied by departures that reflect a planned succession and departures by CEOs who have reached retirement age. As expected, this increase in the sensitivity of current incentive pay to changes in firm performance is not found if the subsequent turnover is classified as unplanned, and thus not anticipated by the firm.
Indirect effect of corruption: evidence from heterogeneity in corruption experience and tax morale (H2, D9)
This paper identifies indirect effects of corruption observed in declining individual tax morale due to their corruption experience. Corruption breaks the fiscal contract between governments and taxpayers. So, it hurts the motivation to pay taxes, and thus creates dishonest citizens. To identify corruption effects, I utilize corruption experience heterogeneity, which is more exogeneous than other measures, based on newly added questions in the World Value Survey and probability of not cheating on taxes and apply multi-level hierarchical models. Potential carriers of the corruption effects are fairness in the tax system, ethnic diversity, the public shame of being exposed, and public policies. I also ruled out potential effects of peers and reduced-expected costs of cheating on taxes due to revealed corruption.
Indirect Network Effects and Policy Implication: Empirical Analysis of the Chinese Electric Vehicle Market (H2, D6)
Governments can accelerate technology adoption by directly subsidizing the technology or subsidizing
the adoption of its complements when indirect network effects exist. The optimal policy choices
depend on the scale of the indirect network effects, relative to the direct policy effects. This paper estimates the mutual indirect network effects between electric vehicles (EVs) and charging stations, and assesses the effectiveness of EV purchase subsidies and charger subsidies on EV adoption and their efficiency, applying EV sales and charger number data in China. Although the indirect network effect of chargers on EV adoption is significant, our findings suggest that EV purchase subsidies are 34.4% more effective than charger subsidies of equal-size spending in promoting EV adoption, at a lower cost of efficiency loss. Moreover, these two subsidies are different in their effects on the distributions of EV sales and consumer welfare: the recent changes in EV subsidies are in favor of high-range vehicles and their buyers while charger subsidies are in favor of low-range vehicles and their buyers.
Individual Compliance with Disease-Preventive Behavior: Experimental Evidence (I1, C9)
The rise and spread of COVID-19 has made individual compliance with disease-preventive behaviors such as wearing face coverings, social distancing, staying home when sick, hand washing, and vaccination critically important to reducing the spread and saving lives. From an economic perspective, these disease-preventive behaviors vary in terms of the private and external benefits they provide. Because of this, individual compliance may vary across behaviors, and interventions aimed at increasing compliance may be more successful for some behaviors than others. The experiments in this paper characterize a simplified version of the disease-prevention environment. Individuals face a possible loss, representative of getting sick, and are given the option to pay a small cost to decrease either their own probability of loss, others’ probabilities of loss, or both, depending on the treatment. Additionally, each decision environment is tested in three different frames, positive, negative, and neutral. In the positive frame, the positive externality created by paying the cost is emphasized in environments with an externality. In the negative frame, the negative externality created by not paying the cost is emphasized in environments with an externality. An additional treatment includes a “moral nudge”, in which subjects read the University’s mission statement to “advance the common good” prior to participating in the experiment. Initial results suggest that in baseline treatments, individual behavior is well predicted by the Nash equilibrium, which is sub-optimal for environments with an externality. Individuals do, however, choose to pay the cost more often in treatments with a positive frame on the externality, and even more often in treatments with a negative frame on the externality. Additional sessions are needed to confirm these initial results and to further investigate the “moral nudge”.
Individual Prevention and Organized Screening: A Reflection on Data of the Access of Early Detection of Breast Cancer in Emilia-Romagna, and in Bologna in Particular, After the Reorganization of the Offering (I1, K3)
The data (2002-2016) from the Regional Health Service of Emilia-Romagna on the access to the mammographic services in the Local Health Authorities (AUSLs) of the region (data accessed as generalized civic access) allowed (poster at AEA Meeting 2020) to identify the different choices (YES screening; NO screening) for the early detection of breast cancer undertaken by the women in Bologna and in the other AUSLs in Emilia-Romagna after the solutions adopted after 2010 to deal with the problems of waiting lists and the control of spending for the services of early detection of breast cancer, redirecting the services toward the screening of public health(poster at AEA Meeting 2017).
To better understand what happened in the early detection of breast cancer in Bologna after 2010, women residing in the Bologna AUSL who underwent at least one mammogram in 2010 in spontaneous access or in scheduled screening were taken into consideration and the choices they made in the following years up to 2016, the last available year, were analyzed (paper at WEAI meeting March 2021).
Thus in 2016 it appears that 58,1% of women who had had one or more mammograms through spontaneous access in 2010 progressively did not have any more mammograms (at least within the National Health Service), neither in spontaneous access nor in scheduled screening.
Now in this new paper we examine in depth the different behavioral patterns of women with respect to early detection of breast cancer in Emilia-Romagna, and in particular in Bologna, and we study their different reactions to changes in the offering. We, therefore, want to compare our results with the new debate taking place in Italy (National Screening Observatory, Italian Group for Mammographic Screening, Surveillance PASSI of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità) on the early detection of breast cancer and on the organized screening.
Inflation Gap Persistence, Indeterminacy, and Monetary Policy (E3, E5)
Empirical studies have documented that the persistence of the gap between inflation and its trend declined after the Volcker disinflation. Previous research into the source of the decline has offered competing views while sidestepping the possibility of equilibrium indeterminacy. This paper examines the source by estimating a medium-scale DSGE model using a Bayesian method that allows for indeterminacy. The estimated model shows that the Fed's change from a passive to an active policy response to the inflation gap or a decrease in firms' probability of price change can fully account for the decline in inflation gap persistence by ruling out indeterminacy that induces persistent dynamics of the economy.
Inflationary Household Uncertainty Shocks (E3, D8)
I construct a novel measure of household uncertainty based on survey data for European countries. I show that household uncertainty shocks do not universally behave like negative demand shocks. Notably, household uncertainty shocks are largely inflationary in Europe. Further analysis, including a comparison of results across countries, suggest that factors related to average markups along with monetary policy play a role in the transmission of household uncertainty to inflation. These results lend support to a pricing bias mechanism as an important transmission channel.
Information Acquisition and Price Setting under Uncertainty: New Survey Evidence (E3, E0)
What makes prices sticky? While it is commonly understood that prices adjust only sluggishly to changes in economic conditions, the source of sluggish price adjustment is under-explored empirically. In this paper, we argue that sluggish information updating drives price stickiness. To this end, we use a panel dataset that contains information on both firm-level expectations and price adjustments and document the following facts: (1) there is a positive correlation between whether a firm updates its expectations and whether it adjusts prices; (2) firms update expectations more frequently and make less correlated forecast errors in downturns; (3) firms adjust prices more frequently in downturns which include both upward and downward adjustments. We then extend a Ss price-setting model with second moment shocks to allow for endogenous information acquisition by the firm. The model predicts that firms acquire information more intensively during periods of high volatility, also adjusting expectations and prices more often. It is countercyclical volatility, interacted with menu costs and information rigidity, that drives our results. This implies that the flexibility of the aggregate price level is counter-cyclical, making monetary policy less effective in recessions.
Information Integration, Coordination Failures, and Quality of Prescribing (H5, H7)
Organizations aim to improve the coordination of interdependent decisions to achieve more desirable outcomes. The difficulty for improving coordination is that information is incomplete and dispersed among decision-makers. Health care is a prominent example: a patient’s care delivery is spread across multiple physicians, and each physician has different knowledge of the patient’s health and medical history.
We analyze a public policy of health information integration in Finland. The country was one of the first ones to adopt a nationwide system for electronic prescribing (e-prescribing). Our identification approach is based on the staggered adoption of e-prescribing across all the municipalities between 2010 and 2014. Compared to individual providers’ incompatible and incomplete information systems, e-prescribing systems provide more comprehensive information on prescriptions across different physicians involved in a patient’s care. The adoption of interoperable e-prescribing system serves as a plausibly exogenous shock to the information sets of physicians, being directly relevant to their prescribing decisions and coordination.
Using our prescription-level data, we find that the adoption of e-prescribing has no statistically significant effect on the overall probability of co-prescribing harmful drug combinations. We also evaluate regional heterogeneity in the effects because there is considerable evidence of an urban-rural gap in health care provision and outcomes. Similar to the average effect, there is no statistically significant effect on the probability of harmful co-prescribing in urban regions. However, in rural regions, the measure of low-quality prescribing reduces substantially, by approximately 35 percent. The improvement in the quality of prescribing in rural regions is driven by unspecialized physicians (generalists) and by interacting prescriptions from different physicians, rather than from the same physician. Despite the underwhelming results on average, our results for rural regions still support the view that information integration has the potential to improve coordination and mitigate the harms of fragmentation in health care.
Information Pools and Insider Trading: A Snapshot of America’s Financial Elite. (G2, G3)
We document abnormal correlations between the performance of hedge funds’ managers with an elite socio-economic background. In particular, Columbia, Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, Stanford, and NYU alumni are highly correlated among themselves. We take steps toward linking this phenomenon to a shared information pool with a quasi-natural experiment: the 2009 Galleon Capital insider trading scandal. The difference-in-difference analysis shows a significant reduction in returns of the elite managers following the scandal. Finally, we present evidences suggesting that investors recognize this pool’s value, as funds with access to elite information are associated with 55% higher assets under management at launch.
Institutional Ownership and Investment by Private Companies (G3)
We examine whether institutional shareholders in established private companies promote investment by alleviating funding constraints. Our sample is derived from company share registers and is comprehensive with respect to type of institution and size of shareholding. Institutions give rise to higher levels of investment in intangible assets, and higher external finance. The effects are largest for companies with minority institutional stakes, suggesting that alleviation of constraints is a primary motive for ownership in private companies without taking control. Institutions have more impact on external equity than debt, which differs from the case of companies taken over in leveraged buyouts.
Inter-firm Patent Litigation and Innovation Competition (G3, K4)
Using novel inter-firm patent litigation data, we show a significant interplay between intellectual property rights' boundaries and product market dynamics. Instrumenting a firm's patent litigation propensity with the passage of China's National Intellectual Property Strategy reform, we find that patent litigation reduces defendant firms' innovation activity and fosters more exploitative innovations. The effects strengthen with product market overlap between litigants. We further find that patent litigation intensifies product market competition among close rivals and results in lower and more disperse innovation activities within industry, implying an industry structure where Schumpeterian effect of competition is more likely.
Interest Rates and Asset Prices under Financial Liberalization (F3, F4)
This paper constructs a general equilibrium model and studies the determination and the dynamics of the interest rates, the asset prices, and the exchange rates as the financial markets integrate globally and deepen with larger borrowing capacities. With the floating exchange rates, capital account liberalization increases the real interest rate in equilibrium, whereas financial development lowers the equilibrium real interest rate. In the fixed exchange rate regime, the equilibrium real interest rate is negative and rises as the financial market develops. The volatilities of the domestic equity price and bond price decline, and the domestic currency appreciates at the stochastic steady state with a deeper financial market and a more liberalized capital account. Faced with the uncertainty of the asset prices and the exchange rates, the design of monetary policy relies on accurate estimations of the financial volatilities. Proper reactions to the financial risks make central banks less constrained by the Mundell-Fleming trilemma and leave space for the policy rate adjustments under both exchange rate regimes.
Intergenerational Mobility in Switzerland: Evidence from Large Administrative Datasets (H0, J0)
Using large administrative datasets from Switzerland, we study the intergenerational transmission of economic status along four dimensions: income, wealth, education, and occupation status. Thanks to the linkage of i) full population census data with ii) social security earnings records dating back to 1981, iii) individual income and wealth tax data, and iv) large population surveys, we obtain precise measures of our outcomes around age 30 for all the cohorts born 1967--1982 and their parents.
Our results show that income mobility is particularly high in international comparison, exceeding the rates observed in the U.S. or even in Sweden---while at the same time educational and occupational mobility are low. However, we find that over time absolute upward income mobility has declined for cohorts born after 1975.
We further shed light on employment probabilities of women and mothers and the prevalence of entrepreneurship, given parental working histories. Mother’s occupation and education are less correlated with the respective child outcomes than father’s. This suggests that family culture matters for intergenerational transmission of economic status. Even though mothers typically spend more time with their children than fathers, their background has less of an impact on children’s economic status later in life.
We also study heterogeneity across subgroups, such as immigrants, and in regions within Switzerland. As we observe language spoken at home, we exploit the fact that Switzerland has three different language regions to understand how potential language barriers in school or local labor markets affect mobility patterns.
Internal Migration and House Prices in Australia (R1, R3)
Australia is one of the most mobile countries in the world through internal migration, which is an overlooked part of population change. This paper provides an exciting episode that has not been examined previously and explores whether, and to what extent, internal migration affects house prices across Australia. In this regard, we use the Statistical Areas Level 3 (SA3) disaggregated data set that represents the regional breakdown of Australia to study the impact of internal migration inflows on local housing prices. To address the potential endogeneity problem due to simultaneous causality between migration flow and house price changes, we confirm our results with two-stage least squares (2SLS) by a manually constructed instrumental variable that matches the shift-share instrument used in the immigration literature. We find a strong evidence that there is a local economic impact of internal migration in Australian cities; internal migration pushes up the demand for housing in migration-receiving areas and results in house price increases. According to 2SLS models, internal migration that amounts to 1% of the initial local area population is associated with point estimates of 0.62% to 0.81% increase in house prices. Put differently, as of 2019, an annual increase in the stock of migrants equal to 1% of an SA3 region's initial population leads to $4,290 to $5,605 annual increase in house prices. We have also suggestive evidence that the estimates of the OLS specification are downward biased indicating that migrants tend to move towards regional cities and/or towns in which house prices are more affordable, conditional on the local controls and the time effects. Considering that house price changes are an essential source of human capital accumulation and local economic development, internal migration and its influence on housing prices play a crucial role in fostering the sustainable development specifically in regional Australia.
International Reserves, Debt Currency Composition & Sovereign Default (E6)
We study the joint decision of accumulating international reserves and issuing debt in both foreign and local currency using a quantitative sovereign default model. In this environment the government lacks commitment to repay its debt obligations, issues long-term debt denominated in both foreign and local currency and accumulates international reserves. In addition, the government can inflate away its local currency debt using discretionary depreciation. However, inflation is costly and the government will balance this trade-off. The addition of the simultaneous decision of accumulating reserves and issuing local & foreign currency debt allows us to: i) extend the canonical sovereign default model which thus far only considered two out of three of our assets, ii) shed light on the sustainability benefits of optimal currency depreciation and iii) reconcile the canonical quantitative default model with the empirical observation that emerging economies’ governments have increased both their reserves and their local currency debt levels in the last decade. Furthermore, our analysis can also shed light on the optimal government response to a shock that hit the sovereign during exceptional financial stress episodes such as the global financial crisis or the COVID-19 pandemic.
International Spillovers of New Monetary Policy (E5, E6)
We study international spillovers of conventional and new monetary policies of a large
economy to a small open economy (SOE). Building on Sims and Wu (2020), we employ a medium-scale New Keynesian model that features all the major types of new monetary policies and the conventional monetary
policy in a unified framework. We extend their model to an open economy setting. We use our model as a measurement device to quantify the spillovers and study the economic mechanisms behind them. In our quantitative application, Canada is the SOE and the US is the large economy. Our results show that there is little difference in the spillover effects of conventional and new monetary policies on the GDP of the SOE. However, the effects on various components of GDP (consumption, investment and net exports) differ by policy.
We also simulate counterfactual monetary policy scenarios for the US and Canada around the Great Recession of 2008. Three main conclusions emerge from these simulations: (1) If the Fed had not engaged in quantitative easing (QE), the US recession in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis would have been deeper but Canada would have had better economic outcomes; (2) there are diminishing returns to QE in terms of its effects on both the US and Canadian real variables; and (3) had the Bank of Canada followed the Fed and engaged in QE of its own during the Great Recession, the real economic outcomes would have been better for Canada.
Investment Risk-taking and Benefit Adequacy under Automatic Balancing Mechanism in Public Pension System (H5, G1)
The global trend of aging populations is a cause for concern regarding the financial conditions of public pensions. Policymakers worldwide are contemplating the introduction of policies to increase the sustainability of public pensions. The Japanese government has repeatedly revised the public pension system to increase the chances of achieving financial stability. The new systems introduced by the government include a fixed contribution rate and an automatic balancing mechanism, which reduce the benefit level according to the long-term demographic and financial conditions of the system. The public pension in Japan has a large pension reserve fund for investing in stocks and bonds worldwide. However, the risk-taking of the reserve fund along with the adequacy of the benefit levels has not been intensively discussed in the literature and as a practice. Therefore, by using prediction methods for the financial verification of public pensions developed by the government, and by applying stochastic simulation methodologies, we investigate the relation between investment risk-taking on the reserve fund and future benefit levels. This study contributes to the literature by focusing on the effects of investment risk-taking on the reserve fund in terms of the sustainability of the public pension system, particularly considering several potential pension system revisions under current policy discussion, which have not been addressed by previous studies. We find that the distribution of benefit levels shifts downward when the reserve fund invests more in bonds than in the term of the current allocation levels. Furthermore, while the benefit levels increase on average, they are faced with greater downward risk when the reserve fund invests in more stocks. These results indicate that lowering investment risk does not correspond to a low risk of benefit levels because investment returns may be unsatisfactory and the automatic balancing mechanism continues for a longer duration.
Is Gender Destiny? Gender Bias and Intergenerational Educational Mobility in India (I2, J6)
Many recent studies provide evidence of gender bias against girls in India, for example, in health, education expenditure, breast feeding, and sex selection. In contrast, the gender gap in schooling has narrowed substantially over the decades. Does gender convergence in schooling attainment imply that the girls in the younger generation in India enjoy equal educational opportunities as the boys?
To analyze this question, we study intergenerational schooling persistence addressing both empirical and theoretical challenges. We incorporate gender bias against girls in the family, school and labor market in a Becker-Tomes model and derive mobility and investment equations that can be taken to data. Parents may underestimate a girl's ability, expect lower returns, and have “pure son preference”. The model delivers the widely used linear conditional expectation function (CEF) for mobility under constant returns but generates strong predictions: parental bias cannot cause gender gap in relative mobility. With diminishing returns, the CEF is concave, and parental bias affects both relative and absolute mobility.
Since coresidency causes severe underestimation of the gender gap, we use data from India Human Development Survey that includes nonresident children and parents. Evidence rejects the linear mobility CEF in favor of a concave relation (both rural and urban). The daughters of uneducated fathers face lower relative and absolute mobility irrespective of rural/urban location. We find gender equality in absolute mobility for the children of college educated fathers in urban areas, but not in villages. Theoretical insights help understand the mechanisms, suggesting underestimation of academic ability and unfavorable school environment for girls. Rural parents exhibit pure son preference. Differences in the incidence of unwanted girls and the impact of parental nonfinancial inputs explain the rural-urban differences. The standard linear model misses important heterogeneity and yields misleading conclusions such as no son preference in rural India.
Is Grass Greener in the Gray Zone? Innovation in the Cannabis Market (O3, I1)
Despite many recent developments regarding cannabis legalization, there is little evidence on how innovative activities respond to legalization within the US or globally. This paper studies research and intellectual property (IP) seeking activities in the cannabis market. A novel dataset is constructed from clinical trials, trademarks, and patent applications, which are then categorized by purposes or focused areas. Using difference-in-differences models, we find that cannabis-related US clinical trials do not react much to legalization but increase much stronger after adult-use cannabis dispensary openings. Mechanism tests suggest legalization itself does not reduce the cost barriers to access research materials. Patenting rose globally and within the US post-legalization, mainly in user-oriented downstream technologies. Trademark filings increase both globally and within the US, but are almost entirely driven by cannabis-related non-cannabis products with low value and novelty. The results suggest that the current semi-legalization status hinders progress in high-value research and product building, and increased legalization helps accelerate formal knowledge diffusion through patenting. Bacon-decomposition analyses further strengthen the main results. We are incorporating other new difference-in-differences methods with the special setting of cannabis legalization with sequential time-varying policy adjustments.
Is This Time Different for Monetary Policy? (E5, E3)
The improving health picture, alongside the robust response from policymakers, has materially changed expectations on the outlook. With the stage set for a rapid economic rebound, analysts are wondering if this time is different for monetary policy. Particularly, is this the end of the declining Fed Funds Rate (FFR) trend? That is, in each business cycle over the past 30 years, every peak in the FFR is lower than the past cycle. In addition, the FOMC offered larger incentives and for a longer duration in a recession relative to the past cycle. Therefore, each recession drained the FOMC’s resources and left the Committee with “less ammunition” to fight the next recession.
Does the current cycle indicate a break in the past declining FFR trend? Does the FOMC deviate from the past tradition of offering larger incentives for a longer duration?
This study develops a new framework to estimate the likely path of the FFR, particularly, the likely peak value for the FFR in the near future. Using the historical relationship between the FFR and the 10-year Treasury yields, our framework suggests that the FFR may follow the past declining trend in the near future. That is, the near-term peak in the FFR may be lower than the past cycle’s peak value.
Another application of our framework suggests that the estimated duration of monetary stimulus for the current cycle may be shorter than the past cycle. However, the estimated magnitude of the current monetary stimulus has already crossed the previous cycle’s bar.
Therefore, our work suggests, in terms of the past declining FFR trend and size of the monetary incentives, this time may not be different for monetary policy. Duration of the offered incentives may be different (shorter) for the present cycle.
Is Women’s Competitiveness Expressed through their Husband’s Income? (J0, D1)
We test for the influence of heterosexual individual’s own and cohabiting partner’s competitiveness on their own and partner’s income using a recently validated measure of competitiveness, incorporated in 2017 within a large representative sample survey, with income data from 2015-2021. First, we show that in aggregate, the past (before 2017) and future (after 2017) income levels of men and women increase with their own competitiveness when we do not control for contemporaneous (2017) income. When we control for contemporaneous income to eliminate the potential influence of past success on surveyed competitiveness, we find that only the future income of single men and women increases on own competitiveness, but not that of cohabiting men or women. Remarkably, only men’s female partner’s competitiveness, not their own, increases their future income. Women’s competitiveness also increases household income, while men’s does not increase their female partner’s nor household income. Inconsistent with women’ s competitiveness increasing men’s income by increasing women’s specialization in household production, women’s competitiveness does not increase men’s work hours. However, men’s own competitiveness does increase their work hours, but evidently, longer hours do not increase their income. Our findings suggest that women’s competitiveness may, paradoxically, be contributing to gender and household income inequalities.
Job Mobility Within and Across Occupations (J6, J3)
This paper assesses the impact of occupational mobility on life cycle wage inequality. I develop a model of job mobility which attributes differential returns to occupations to occupationally heterogeneous labor market frictions, compensating differentials, and non-pecuniary job switching costs. I estimate the structural model on linked Hungarian administrative data and use it to quantify the relative importance of each of these mechanisms. High-skill occupations offer higher wages and more stable employment; in turn, low-skill occupations feature higher non-wage amenities but larger non-pecuniary costs of switching to high-skill jobs. As a result, workers who start their careers in the bottom 10 percent of the wage distribution in a high-skill occupation surpass those who start in the top 5 percent of a low-skill occupation in 5 years. I find that occupationally heterogeneous labor market frictions are the key drivers of these ex ante wage profiles. These results indicate that occupational heterogeneity in the sources of wage inequality is instrumental to fully account for life cycle wage dynamics.
Just Do IT? An Assessment of Inflation Targeting in a Global Comparative Case Study (E5, E3)
The literature on the effects of inflation targeting (IT) remains open to question. Putting aside panel regression analyses, the literature has mostly used difference-in-differences estimators to evaluate the causal effects of IT. This paper addresses the concerns with those techniques using synthetic control methods for causal inference in a (large) sample of advanced economies (AEs) and emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs). First, we find that IT was relatively effective in reducing the inflation rate in advanced economies that pursued lower inflation, with falls lower than 1 percent over the first five years of the post-intervention period. Among EMDEs, the average reduction in inflation fluctuates around 2 percent per year. That said, these gains are statistically significant only in a few AEs (Canada, UK) and EMDEs (Colombia, Philippines, Poland, and South Africa). Interestingly, IT contributed to fight deflation in Japan and raise its inflation rate compared with its estimated counterfactual. Second, IT countries were able to cushion the external shocks related to the high commodity prices and the global financial crisis. During the 2007-09 period, the gains in lower inflation are almost negligible in AEs. In contrast, EMDEs achieved inflation rates about 3 percent lower than the average rate of the comparison group. Third, we find that the IT effectiveness---measured by the dynamic treatment effect---is statistically associated with proxies of the degree of central bank independence. Among AEs, policy formulation attributions seem to play an important role. In contrast, the central bank's ability on lending to the public sector appears as a statistically relevant covariate in EMDEs.
Kid-Cession: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Parents’ Labor Force Participation and Welfare (J1, G5)
Prior work has shown that the COVID-19 pandemic has especially harmed the labor market outcomes of women with children. A likely explanation is the closure of schools and childcare resources due to the pandemic, along with differentials in time spent on child care between men and women. In this paper, we use administrative banking data and geographic data on school closures to calculate several measures of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women with children. First, we document differential trends in labor income, bank balances, and spending across households’ family structure (e.g., children vs. no children), gender, and whether schools were in person or virtual in the fall of 2020. Second, we use industry-specific unemployment rates—based on UI and PUA receipt into a customer’s checking account—to detect involuntary job separations (i.e., layoffs) vs. voluntary separations (i.e., quitting to take care of children). We then document resulting effects on household consumption caused by voluntary separations.
Land Prices and the Persistent Effects of Wealth Inequality (O4, E2)
We show how, in theory, wealth inequality can have long-run effects on an economy’s output. We develop and solve an endogenous growth model in which land enters both the preferences of households (via housing) and the production function for research and development.
When preferences over consumption and housing are non-homothetic, the cross-sectional distribution of wealth affects the fraction of national income devoted to housing relative to all other goods, reducing the demand for new products. This affects the profits accruing to producers of new varieties, which affects the incentives for firms to innovate, and so permanently affects output. The model therefore presents a simple mechanism linking together features of the United States economy observed over the last four decades: declining economic growth and firm entry, rising inequality, and the increasing role of housing in national income.
Land-Use Regulation and Economic Development: Evidence from the Farmland Red Line Policy in China (R1, R5)
Many countries have land-use regulations to preserve farmland from urban sprawl, such as greenbelts, urban growth boundary, and agricultural zoning. In this paper, I show that such regulations can distort economic activity across sectors and locations at a substantial cost to aggregate welfare in developing countries during urbanization. I study a major policy restricting farm-to-urban land conversion in China - the Farmland Red Line Policy - to provide causal evidence on the impact of land-use regulation on local development measured by GDP and population growth. The policy imposes an additional cost on urban land development, which depends on exogenous local geographical features. I show that a greater additional cost driven by the geographical features significantly reduces urban land supply, lowers GDP, and decreases population. To understand the aggregate impact of the policy, I develop a quantitative spatial equilibrium model that features endogenous land-use decisions. According to the model, the policy causes an excess supply of farmland and an under-supply of urban land, and the extent of such land misallocation varies across locations due to their local geographical features. In the constrained equilibrium, the spatial and sectoral mobility of workers implies that land misallocation leads to labor misallocation. The calibrated model reveals that the welfare of workers would have been 6% higher in 2010 if the policy had not been implemented. Moreover, a cap-and-trade system that achieved the same aggregate level of farmland would have been far less costly in terms of welfare. The results suggest that fast-growing economies in developing countries need to design land-use policies carefully, as the welfare costs of poorly designed policies can be substantial.
Latinx High School Mathematics Achievement in Gentrifying School Zones (I2, H4)
This project investigates high school mathematics achievement of Latinx students in schools that are located in gentrifying areas. As the rate of gentrification has increased in many inner cities that have traditionally been the home of Black and Latinx people across the country, it is important to investigate the impact that these demographic shifts have on student outcomes. As Latinos become a larger portion of the student population in K-12 public schools, it is important that we increase the enrollment of these groups not only to ensure that they are doing well economically but the country as well.
School Attendance Boundary data are merged onto the HSLS:09 data. HSLS:09 followed a nationally representative cohort of children from ninth grade through three years after their expected high school graduation year. This study focuses on students who are present in the first three waves of the HSLS data set who attended public high school and student high school transcript data was available for all four years. These selection criteria result in 10,810 students representing 767 high schools across the United States.
Multilevel models with random intercepts are used to estimate the relationship between gentrification, school diversity, and Latinx mathematics academic achievement and account for the nested nature of the data. This study shows that in the majority of gentrified secondary public schools became more diverse which attributed to the lower mathematics achievement for Latinx students. This study provides evidence that gentrification may be negatively impacting students who are not displaced because of educational redlining in the short term. This study not only adds to the current literature, but lays the groundwork for future research looking at the impact of gentrification on public secondary schools across the country.
Learning and the Anatomy of the Profitability Premium (G1, E2)
I introduce imperfect information and learning for unobservable long-run productivity into a dynamic asset pricing model and provide an explanation for the profitability premium. Firms with high profitability have greater information precision and face greater exposure to updated long-run productivity shocks through the learning mechanism. Deviating from the existing models without learning, my framework provides a unified explanation for a wide set of empirical facts: firms with high cash-based operating profitability (1) have higher information precision and capital allocation efficiency; (2) are more exposed to aggregate productivity shocks and, hence, earn higher expected returns; and (3) exhibit shorter cash-flow duration.
Leasing as a Mitigation Channel of Capital Misallocation (G1, E0)
Leased capital accounts for about 20\% of the total productive physical assets used by U.S. publicly listed firms, and this proportion is even higher among small and financially constrained firms - over 40\%. In this paper, we argue that leasing is an important alternative way of capital reallocation, complementary to directly purchasing capital from the reallocation market, and it significantly mitigates credit-constraint-induced capital misallocation. However, in the existing literature, leased capital is an ``unmeasured'' capital in quantifying capital misallocation. Empirically, we show that neglecting leased capital and overlooking its mitigation effect lead to significant overestimations of both the capital misallocation (Hsieh and Klenow, 2009) and the cyclicality of capital reallocation (Eisfeldt and Rampini, 2006). Theoretically, we develop a general equilibrium model with heterogeneous firms, collateral constraint and an explicit buy versus lease decision to demonstrate this novel mechanism: the possibility for firms to rent capital when they are financially constrained mitigates capital misallocation.
Leasing as a Risk-Sharing Mechanism (G1, E2)
This paper argues leasing is a risk-sharing mechanism: risk-tolerant lessors (capital owners) provide insurance to financially constrained risk-averse lessees (capital borrowers) against systematic capital price fluctuations. We provide strong empirical evidence to support this novel risk premium channel. Among financially constrained stocks, firms with a high leased capital ratio earn average returns 7.35% lower than firms with a low leased capital ratio, which we call it the negative leased capital premium. We develop a general equilibrium model with heterogeneous firms and financial frictions to quantify this channel. Our study also provides a caveat to the recent leasing accounting change of IFRS 16: lease induced liability and financial debt should not be treated equally on firms' balance sheet, as their implications for firms' equity risks and cost of equity are opposite.
Leveraging on Human Capital: Labor Rigidities and Sorting over the Business Cycle (E2, E3)
This paper analyzes the scarring effects on workers and hysteresis effects on the whole real economy of business cycle fluctuations. We introduce a structural model of the labor market that features worker and rm heterogeneity, whereby workers accumulate human capital and search on the job. Wages are set through an optimal dynamic contract, with downward wage rigidity arising endogenously through limited commitment on the firm side. In this setting aggregate fluctuations alter the sorting between workers and firms and distort incentives to accumulate human capital. We show that contractual rigidities, together with limits to the intensity of investment in human capital, generate long term costs of business cycle fluctuations. Scarring effects for workers arise in absence of demand externalities or informational frictions, as a direct result of physical constraints to investment and limited commitment by workers. Once inefficiently separated, workers that look for employment in bad times direct their search towards less productive firms, a fact which has long lasting consequences for their working career. The consequence is an ensuing hysteresis in firms' productivity distribution, which tends to persist long after aggregate productivity reverted back to trend. Using administrative data on the universe of Italian labor contracts provided by the social security administration (INPS), we provide empirical evidence of these mechanisms.
Liquidity and Monetary Transmission: A Quasi-Experimental Approach (E5, G2)
In the face of lower real interest rates, central bank balance sheets are likely to remain larger relative to pre-crisis levels, resulting in greater banking system liquidity. However, there is little evidence on the impact of higher liquidity on credit supply and the monetary transmission mechanism in the ‘new normal'. We exploit a novel dataset on bank liquidity positions arising from a unique regulatory regime and combine it with a highly-detailed, loan-level administrative dataset on UK mortgages. Using the design of quantitative easing auctions as an instrument for liquidity to address endogeneity, we find that more liquid banks charge slightly higher mortgage interest rates, and pass on significantly less changes in risk-free rates. We explain this through bank behaviour that attempts to preserve net interest margins in the face of holding low-yielding liquidity. Consistent with this, we find excess liquidity leads to reaching-for-yield responses in banks' mortgage risk-taking. Additionally, the results shed light on the optimal mix between (un)conventional monetary policy tools. Policies that boost bank net interest margins are more likely to help the transmission of risk-free rates to lending rates.
Liquidity Provision and Co-insurance in Bank Syndicates (G2)
We study the capacity of the banking system to provide liquidity to the corporate sector in times of stress and how changes in this capacity affect corporate liquidity management. We show that the contractual arrangements among banks in loan syndicates co-insure liquidity risks of credit line drawdowns and generate a network of interbank exposures. We develop a simple model and simulate the liquidity and insurance capacity of the banking network. We find that the liquidity capacity of large banks has significantly increased following the introduction of liquidity regulation, and that the liquidity co-insurance function in loan syndicates is economically important. We also find that borrowers with higher reliance on credit lines in their liquidity management have become more likely to obtain credit lines from syndicates with higher liquidity. The assortative matching on liquidity characteristics has strengthened the role of banks as liquidity providers to the corporate sector.
Liquidity Traps in a Monetary Union (F3, F4)
The closed economy macro literature has shown that a liquidity trap can result from the self-fulfilling expectation that future inflation and output will be low. This paper investigates expectations-driven liquidity traps in a two-country New Keynesian model of a monetary union. In the model here, a rise in government purchases in an individual country has a weak effect on GDP in the rest of the union. The results here cast doubt on the view that, in the current era of ultra-low interest rates, a rise in fiscal spending by Euro Area (EA) core countries would significantly boost GDP in the EA periphery.
Paper published in: Oxford Economic Papers, October 2021, Vol. 73(4), 2021, 1581–1603; doi: 10.1093/oep/gpab019
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Liquidity Traps in a World Economy (F3, F4)
This paper studies a New Keynesian model of a two-country world with a zero lower bound (ZLB) constraint for nominal interest rates. A floating exchange rate regime is assumed. The presence of the ZLB generates multiple equilibria. The two countries can experience recurrent liquidity traps induced by the self-fulfilling expectation that future inflation will be low. These “expectations-driven” liquidity traps can be synchronized or unsynchronized across countries. In an expectations-driven liquidity trap, the domestic and international transmission of persistent shocks to productivity and government purchases differs markedly from shock transmission in a “fundamentals-driven”liquidity trap.
Paper published in: Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Vol. 132, November 2021, 104206
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Lone Stars or Constellations? The Impact of Performance Related Pay on Matching Assortativeness in Academia (M5, O3)
The effects of performance pay on effort and sorting have been studied extensively, but the effect performance pay may have on workforce composition in general, and the degree of matching assortativeness in particular, is much less understood. Yet if complementarities in worker skill exist, we would expect performance pay to increase positive matching assortativeness and this may greatly affect total productivity, particularly in industries with strong complementarities, such as academia (Kremer (1993), Legros and Newman (2002)).
This paper studies the effect of performance related pay on the distribution of academics across universities in a hedonic coalition formation model and provides empirical evidence that performance pay increases the clustering of similarly productive academics, giving rise to a less homogeneous distribution of academic stars across universities. To do so, the paper exploits the introduction of performance pay in German academia as a natural experiment and employs a newly constructed data set that encompasses the affiliations and publication records of the universe of academics in the country.
Using plausibly exogenous variation in the productivity of new hires by exploiting mandated professorial retirement rules as an instrument, I find evidence of positive spillovers or complementarities between co-located academics. These are larger in fields with larger co-author teams and when relatively more productive academics are co-located with relatively less productive academics. The latter suggests the academic production function is submodular.
I then test whether the introduction of performance related pay increases clustering of similarly productive academics in a difference-in-differences framework, using the strength of complementarities in academic fields as continuous measure of treatment intensity. I find that performance pay significantly increases positive matching assortativeness. With a submodular production function, however, such an increased clustering of similarly skilled workers is not optimal, and a more equal distribution of academic stars could increase total research output.
Lying Aversion and Vague Communication: An Experimental Study (C9, D9)
An agent may benefit from misleading the audience's belief about the state of the world. While a more blatantly misleading message may be more effective than a vaguely misleading message, however, they may affect one's internal cost of dishonesty and social identity of honesty differently. Thus, a sophisticated agent must balance the degree of truthfulness and vagueness of the message.
We explore the extent to which these two types of lying costs affect people's sophisticated use of vague messages in communication and vice versa in a simple experimental setting. To this end, we introduce a novel experiment design that isolates the internal cost of lying and the social identity cost of appearing dishonest. In particular, the design varies the relevance of the social identity concern across anonymous and non-anonymous treatments. Our setup extends the framework of Fischbacher and Föllmi-heusi (2013) by implementing a richer message space with vagueness.
The experimental data shows that subjects employ more vague messages in treatments in which the social identity concern is relevant. In treatments in which the social identity concern is irrelevant, on the other hand, we find that most subjects exploit vagueness so as to be consistent with the truth, yet at the same time leveraging the imprecision to their own benefit in a more undisguised manner. We also find a smaller but non-trivial-sized group of truth-tellers who do not take advantage of vague messages even against potential opportunities for monetary gain. The result opens a new set of questions on the motivations behind the preferences for truth-telling.
Macroeconomic Dynamics of the Russian Federation: Econometric Model - 2020 (E1, C3)
The article presents the results of the new version of the author's econometric model of the Russian economy. This version consists of 24 equations and 66 identities that describe the relationships between 90 variables (14 exogenous and 76 endogenous).
The new version implemented the following innovations: a) the share of cash in the money mass and mandatory reserve ratio were included; b) the parameters were re-estimated due to new quarterly data from 1999 to 2019 (by OLS and ML – ARCH); c) the specification of the equations was improved due to new estimates.
The elasticities in equations and impulse multipliers estimated show the continuing stagnation of total factor productivity, the strong dependence of the Russian economy on demographic and international factors, and low efficiency of fiscal and monetary policies.
The forecast for 2020 - 2023 obtained on the basis of the model in the base case shows the GDP growth rate equal to -0.5% per year, while inflation will be 3-4% per year. Nevertheless, a noticeable acceleration of growth rates is possible at high (3% per year) growth rates of the world economy.
These results do not take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic (which will change these results for the worse in both the global economy and the Russian economy). But they can provide a useful picture of the development of the Russian economy after the consequences of the pandemic is overcome.
Macroeconomic Effects of the COVID-19 Public Health Crisis (C6, E6)
This paper proposes a dynamic cascade model to investigate the systemic risk posed by sector-level disruption in input. We then use this model to study the effect of the challenge presented by COVID-19 on the U.S. economy. We construct a weighted digraph G = (V; E; W) using the industry-by-industry total requirements table for 2018, provided by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In this graph, the nodes Vi represent sector level industries, an edge Eij represents a commodity flow from industry i to industry j, and a weight Wij captures this commodity's value. We impose an initial shock that disrupts one or more industries' production capacity, and we calculate the propagation of production shortage with a modified Cobb-Douglas production function. The initial shock is modeled based on the spike in unemployment between March and April 2020, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The industries within the network are assigned a resilience r that determines an industry's ability to absorb input losses. If the input loss rate exceeds the resilience r, the industry fails, and its outputs go to zero. We observe a critical resilience rc, such that below this critical value, the network experiences a catastrophic cascade resulting in total network collapse.
Macroprudential Policy and Credit Spreads (E4, E3)
After the 2008 global financial crisis, there is a focus on macroprudential and banking policies to create a sound financial system in which financial problems are not spilled over to the real economy. Macroprudential authorities need to use indicators to assess the sustainability of credit growth and the level of system-wide risk and take the right policy-making decisions. We propose a countercyclical macroprudential rule, which responds not only to the credit growth but also to credit spreads. First, we empirically test the validity of this additional variable by providing evidence on the correlation of credit spreads with credit booms. Then, we explicitly introduce this variable into a Dynamic General Equilibrium (DSGE) model. We use our model to determine to which extent, having macroprudential measures responding to credit spreads may be welfare improving. Our results show the optimal weight that the rule should attach to this indicator so that we can give relevant policy recommendations to this respect.
Macroprudential Regulation of Investment Funds in a DSGE Framework (G2, E4)
The size of the investment fund sector is increasing rapidly and the real economy is becoming more reliant on investment fund intermediation. This paper builds a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with banks and funds that allocate credit to firms. Banks grant loans and issue liquid deposits, while funds hold bonds, store deposits at banks, and issue shares that expose them to periodic redemptions. In the market solution, funds hold too little deposits and are forced to sell bonds when hit by large redemptions. Forced sales restrict investment funds' ability to finance the real economy. We show that a macroprudential minimum liquidity buffer improves upon the market solution. Regulation trades off the mitigation of forced asset sales against a reduction in deposits available to households. By addressing the liquidity risks inherent in fund intermediation, regulation can avoid the amplification of financial sector shocks as experienced in March 2020.
Making News Salient (G0)
CEOs have incentives to communicate with their investors after news releases if the market misinterprets the news. I examine how CEOs communicate with the market through their trading patterns. I find that CEOs are more likely to purchase shares after positive and negative news releases, suggesting that they want to confirm their positive news if the market underreacts to it and want to mitigate the market overreaction to their negative news by purchasing shares. These patterns vary conditional on the information environment, institutional ownership, and news categories. My results suggest that CEOs can make the news salient via their trading pattern.
Managerial Attention, Employee Attrition, and Productivity: Evidence from a Field Experiment (M5, J2)
What is the causal impact of managerial attention on employee attrition, productivity, and well-being? How should firms strategically allocate managerial attention among workers? We formulate a theory that illustrates how different attention allocation strategies influence workers’ updated beliefs about the manager’s type, and, in turn, employee performance. To test the theoretical predictions of the model, we conduct a 6-month randomized control trial at a leading multi-national spa chain with 157 stores and more than 10,000 workers in China. In the experiment, managers are given a weekly list of employees with whom they are required to have a standardized, private conversation. We compare the random allocation method, where attention allocation is uncorrelated with any employee characteristics, to the directed allocation method, where managers focus on employees with more negative emotions and therefore higher attrition probabilities. We document significant causal effects of managerial attention on employee attrition and well-being. Consistent with the theory, we find that random allocation of managerial attention is more effective than directed allocation in reducing turnover.
Managing COVID Policy Uncertainty: A Behavioural Macroeconomic Policy Model (E7, E6)
The COVID pandemic has triggered unprecedented macroeconomic shocks. Large fiscal deficits, historically low interest rates and fluctuations in cash hoarding, alongside long-term trends away from fiat currency towards electronic transactions and crypto-currencies, have magnified policy uncertainty and loosened policy-makers' control of the monetary transmission mechanism. On the real side, a complex nexus of demand- and supply-side shocks have catalysed the inflationary pressures now building around the world.
In analysing the monetary policy implications of these COVID trends, this research contrasts behavioural economic insights about present bias with rational expectations models of time-inconsistent monetary policy and explores the implications for control of inflation. Preliminary theoretical analysis shows that policy uncertainty is magnified when policy-makers' loss functions embed present bias in the form of quasi-hyperbolic discounting relative to a scenario in which policy-makers and private agents form forward-looking rational expectations using exponential discounting.
In identifying some of the empirical associations, policy uncertainty data from Baker et al. (2020) (downloaded from policyuncertainty.com) is used in an econometric analysis of price pressures. These analyses suggest that policy uncertainty increases with the market volatility associated with the spread of infectious disease. The policy implications in the context of the ongoing COVID pandemic and its fallout are profound if the extent and complexity of policy uncertainty are magnified by policy-makers' susceptibility to present bias, thus limiting their ability to control macroeconomic outcomes.
Mandating Public Annuity Purchase and Banning Gender-Based Pricing May Unintentionally Lead to Advantageous Selection (H5, G5)
A well-known solution to adverse selection in insurance markets is to mandate that everyone buy insurance. This paper revisits this solution when gender-based pricing is banned in a mandatory public annuity program with the partial waiver. In a simple model with these two policy features and the assumptions of positive health-wealth correlation and gender gaps in health and wealth, we introduce a measure of the severity of adverse selection and decompose this measure into the within-group and between-group effects when the gender-neutral pricing is adopted. A surprising result is that the severity of adverse selection may be zero and may even be negative (meaning that advantageous selection is present) if the between-group effect is stronger. Our analysis suggests that advantageous selection may arise from the interaction of gender-neutral pricing and the exemption clause of the mandatory public annuity program. This provides an alternative mechanism to the idea emphasized in models with multidimensional private information.
Marginal Tax Changes with Risky Investment (E6, H2)
Using an estimated life-cycle model, we quantify the role of heterogeneity in wealth returns for the response of income to marginal tax changes. In our economy, agents who are sufficiently productive can obtain higher returns by choosing to be entrepreneurs. Return heterogeneity amplifies the responsiveness of total income to marginal tax changes along the entire income distribution with the top 1 percent displaying the highest elasticities. Return heterogeneity increases the incentives to invest for the richest, high-return entrepreneurs, thus amplifying their income responses to marginal tax changes. This reallocation of capital increases aggregate productivity, generating a larger boost in equilibrium wages. This in turn strengthens the income response of the bottom 90 percent, but nevertheless, their response is smaller than at the top.
Mark My Words: The Transmission of Central Bank Communication to the General Public via the Print Media (E5, C8)
Central banks need to influence wage and price-setters' expectations to fulfil their objectives. Despite its importance, communication to the general public is far less studied than communication to financial markets. This paper posits that a key channel through which the general public receives central bank communication is through the print media. We examine which features of central bank text are associated with increased newspaper reporting of central bank communication. We write down a model of news production and consumption in which news generation is endogenous. We use our model to show that standard econometric techniques will likely (i) provide biased estimates and (ii) fail to deal with the high-dimensionality of the estimation problem. We use computational linguistics to measure the the extent of news coverage a central bank communication receives, and the textual features that might cause a communication to be more (or less) likely to be considered newsworthy. We apply our model to the case of the Bank of England, and utilise machine learning techniques designed for high-dimensional equations to estimate the relationship between news coverage and central bank communication. We find that the interaction between the state of the economy and the way in which the Bank of England writes its communication is important for determining news coverage. Content and the state of the economy on their own do not seem to have an effect on news coverage. We provide concrete suggestions for ways in which central bank communication can increase its news coverage by improving readability in line with our results.
Market Power in Product and Labor Markets and Average Stock Returns (G1, E1)
In this paper, we analyze the asset pricing implications of market power in product and labor markets. To investigate the effect of these changes in labor and product market power on firms' asset prices, we first construct a real business cycle (RBC) model where firms have oligopoly and oligopsony power in product and labor markets, respectively, and show that the presence of market power in either market is associated with a lower equity premium. We then provide empirical support for the above results using univariate and multivariate portfolio analysis along with firm-level panel regressions. Our results suggest that investors demand a premium for holding stocks that are in low labor market concentration industries. In addition, we show a negative and significant relationship between labor market concentration and future returns even after controlling for other systematic factors such as market risk, size, value, and momentum.
Marriage and Development: Cross-Country Evidence (O4, J1)
Marriage is an important economic subject because it matters not only for labor supply decisions but also for fertility and child-raising decisions. In this paper, we draw microdata from 92 countries to document that marriage rates decrease with development: one log point increase in GDP per capita is associated with a decrease of 5 percentage points in marriage rates for adults above age 22 for both genders. Over the life cycle from age 15 to 89, marriage rates for males are always higher in low- than in middle-, and high-income countries. In low-income countries, the male marriage rate is 73% on average across all 5-year age bins, which is 7 and 13 percentage points higher than that in middle- and high-income countries, respectively. For females, the average marriage rate in low-income countries is 8 and 17 percentage points higher than in middle- and high-income countries before age 50, although it becomes lower than that in high-income countries during age 50 and 75. Furthermore, we show that variations in desired fertility and demographic compositions including distributions of age, education, and urban status can account for at most one third of the decreasing marriage rates with GDP per capita. Finally, we propose a framework to quantitatively decompose the contributions from the declining gender education gaps and changing social norms with development.
Marriage Market Signaling and Women’s Occupation Choice (J1, J3)
Despite the general closure of gender disparities in the labor market over the past half century,
occupational segregation has been stubbornly persistent. I develop a new model that explains these
occupational outcomes through marriage market signaling. Vertically differentiated men have preference
over women’s unobservable caregiving ability. Heterogenous women choose caregiving occupations
to signal their ability to be caregivers. My model generates unique predictions on the influence of
marriage market conditions on women’s occupational choices. I find empirical support for these
predictions using longitudinal data on marriage rates, policy shocks to divorce laws, and shocks to
the marriage market sex ratio driven by waves of immigration.
Mass Shootings and Infant Health in the United States (I1, I3)
We study the causal effect of mass shooting incidents during pregnancy on infant health outcomes. Our identification strategy exploits the spatial and temporal variation of mass shooting incidents across counties of the United States. We find that increased severity of mass shooting incidents leads to lower average birth weight, increased incidence of low birth weight (less than 2500 grams), and higher infant mortality rates. Further, we use the exogenous variation in the media coverage of mass shooting incidents due to competing international newsworthy events to show that the effects are exacerbated by the coverage of mass shooting events. Our findings suggest that the adverse effects on health might be due to psychological stress from exposure to news coverage of shooting incidents.
Measures of Model Risk for Continuous-time Finance Models (C5, G1)
Measuring model risk is required by regulators on financial and insurance markets. We separate model risk into parameter estimation risk and model specification risk, and we propose expected shortfall type model risk measures applied to L´evy jump models and affine jump-diffusion models. We investigate the impact of parameter estimation risk and model specification risk on the models’ ability to capture the joint dynamics of stock and option prices. We estimate the parameters using Markov chain Monte Carlo techniques, under the risk-neutral probability measure and the real-world probability measure jointly. We find strong evidence supporting modeling of price jumps.
Measuring Interdependence of Inflation Uncertainty (E3, C1)
The unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy responses during the COVID-19 crisis has increased uncertainty about inflation. During crises periods, the strength of the transmission of inflation uncertainty shocks from one country to another tends to intensify. This paper examines empirical methodologies to measure the strength of the interdependence of inflation uncertainty between the UK and the euro area. We first estimate inflation uncertainty by ex post forecast errors from a bivariate VAR GARCH model. The interdependence of uncertainty is estimated using a probability model. The results imply that the spillover of uncertainty is stronger for uncertainty about distant future than near future. The evidence from quantile regressions shows that such empirical method could suffer from bias if endogeneity is not properly addressed. To identify structural parameters in an endogeneity representation of interdependence, we exploit heteroskedasticity in the data across different regimes determined by the ratio of variances. The results no longer exhibit stronger interdependence at longer horizons. Estimated by different sample periods, the strength of the propagation of inflation uncertainty intensifies during the Global Financial Crisis while the interdependence significantly weakens during the post-crisis period.
Measuring Systemic Financial Stress and Its Risk for Growth (G0, E3)
This paper proposes a general statistical framework for systemic financial stress indexes rooted in standard definitions of systemic risk. We consider systemic stress as an ex post measure of systemic risk. Our statistical framework defines systemic stress as a state of the financial system in which a representative set of individual stress measures is considered extremely high and strongly co-dependent. The composite indicator results from a matrix association index that combines two matrices quantifying the extremeness and the co-dependence hypotheses. We demonstrate that several indicators from the financial stress and systemic risk literatures can be represented as special cases of our general framework. The paper also introduces a daily enhanced variant of the ECB’s composite indicator of systemic stress (CISS) for the US and the euro area. The CISS aggregates index components using their time-varying cross-correlations as co-dependence measures, thereby putting more weight on situations in which stress becomes widespread and thus systemic. From a statistical point of view, the various design steps are geared towards delivering a composite indicator which does not suffer from look-ahead bias, is sufficiently robust to outliers and largely unaffected by differing distributional properties of the underlying raw data. We develop a bootstrap algorithm to test critical levels of the CISS. The final part runs a quantile vector autoregression model for the CISS, the PMI and annual real GDP growth. The results confirm the CISS as a significant driver of economic activity, but mainly in the lower tails of the growth distributions in line with the recent growth-at-risk literature. Conditional forecast exercises and variance decompositions suggest a dominant role of financial stress in explaining the severe recession during the financial crisis in 2008/9. This is different from the Covid-19 crisis in which financial stress shocks only play a minor role compared to aggregate output shocks.
Measuring the Natural Rate of Real Interest for Chinese Economy (E4, E5)
In this paper, we deliver several measures of the natural rate of real interest for Chinese economy and assess their reliabilities as the indicators of Chinese monetary policy conducts. First, we use the simple univariate methods including the historical average level and filtering techniques to quantify the natural real rate. Second, a VAR/VECM model based on Taylor rule is built up to calculate the natural real interest rate. Third, also as a robustness check, we quantify the natural real rate using a New Keynesian system and then evaluate all the estimates. The empirical results suggest that the natural real rate varies over time with a countercyclical pattern, and the estimate in terms of the Taylor rule is most efficient and successful for indicating the stance of monetary policy in China. Our study provides new insights to investigate the monetary policy operation and its effects on the business cycle in China.
Medicaid Expansion's Effect on Self-Employment Reporting (H2, J4)
This paper tests whether the expansion of Medicaid following the Affordable Care Act impacted the supply of labor toward work which does not offer employer supplied health insurance. I find a reduction in engagement in self-employment in states which expanded Medicaid, with roughly 350,000 to 700,000 fewer individuals reporting earnings from nonemployer establishments among states which expanded Medicaid. This represents approximately an 18.9% - 37.7% reduction in comparison to the expected number of self-employed. Using data on the deployment of Uber, I test whether this effect is driven by an employment lock effect, or if instead it is evidence of tax evasion through a reduction in declared self-employment income. I find evidence that the reduction in declared self-employment is biased by tax evasion. This result supports previous work on reported earnings from self-employment being manipulated in reference to means-tested programs (Andreoni, Erard and Feinstein, 1998; Saez, 2010; Chetty et al., 2012;Chetty, Friedman and Saez, 2013).
Medical Loss Ratio Regulation and Insurer Pricing (I1, L5)
The Affordable Care Act Medical Loss Ratio (MLR) regulation limits each insurers' profit by setting a minimum requirement on the ratio of medical spending to premium revenue. This regulation may undermine the incentives for insurers to bargain for lower prices when negotiating with health care providers. I build a bargaining model of how MLR constraint affects price negotiation between insurers and providers. This model illustrates the insurer trade-off between lower premiums and higher service prices and reveals how bargaining for lower prices is reduced. Predictions from the model are tested in a structural model of MLR regulation on negotiated prices and insurers' costs using data from the individual Health Insurance Exchange Marketplace. Welfare calculations using estimated demand, cost, and bargaining parameters suggest that, with the presence of insurer-provider price negotiation, the MLR regulation led to higher health service prices and consumer welfare loss. The counterfactual analysis suggests that either a health service price regulation or a well-designed public insurance option could make health services and health insurance plans more affordable and further improve consumer welfare.
Migration Workers and Their Left-Behind Children’s Mental Health (I1, J1)
Following massive flows of internal migration of rural population in China, a large quantity of literature has emerged to explore the income gains and the subsequent welfare improvement. However, only a few studies examine the problems related to left-behind children’s mental health (or, noncognitive ability development). In this paper, we develop a theoretical framework a la Cunha, Heckman and Schennach (2010) and analyze the effect of parents’ migration on children’s mental health, using the China Family Panel Survey (CFPS) 2012-2018 panel dataset. We use factor analysis to measure the noncognitive ability of children of age between 10 and 15 in three dimensions: depression, self-esteem, and self-control. Our OLS regression analysis shows that, on average, left-behind children are more depressed (by an increase of 0.0472 standard deviations) and less self-esteemed (by a decline of 0.023 standard deviations), while their self-control ability is not significantly different from others. The negative impact on mental health is particularly more profound to young children (10-12 years old). All our results are robust to using IV and DID models. We explain this impact with two possible transmission channels: the company channel and the communication channel. For the first channel, we find that the rise of income in a low- and middle-income family due to parents’ off-farm work compensates for the lack of parents’ company in children’s noncognitive skill development. This leads to an insignificant impact on the left-behind children from low- or middle-income families, while this impact is significant for the left-behind children from high-income families. For the second channel, we find that the parents’ migration results in deterioration in parent-child relationships due to lack of communication, which contributes to a worsening of children’s mental health.
Minority-Owned Startups: Discrimination in Access to Capital and Industry Selection (E2, J7)
We use multiple micro-data sources (Survey of Small Business Finances and Kauffman Firm Survey) to document three key facts regarding the impact of racial inequalities in accessing startup financing on firm outcomes. First, Black-owned firms generally have lower capital-labor ratios than White-owned firms, and they also typically start and stay smaller over time. Second, Black-owned firms have lower average revenue products of capital (ARPK) than White-owned firms. Finally, Black-owned firms have lower average revenue products of labor (ARPL) than White-owned firms. We argue that our findings present a puzzle for the extant literature on racial inequalities in startup financing. Our first fact is consistent with a long literature documenting discrimination against Black entrepreneurs in startup financing. However, viewed through the lens of a standard investment model, our second fact is mutually inconsistent with our first fact. In standard investment models where returns to capital is globally decreasing, financially constrained firms employ lower capital-labor ratios since capital is scarce, but enjoy higher internal returns to capital, that is, higher ARPK. To resolve this puzzle, we propose an alternative model of entrepreneurial choice and production with two key ingredients: (1) an extensive margin of selection where financially constrained entrepreneurs potentially selective negatively into sectors with lower implicit costs of capital, and (2) a production function with locally increasing returns to scale. We use our model to match our three facts above, and then further study the macroeconomic impacts of discrimination in startup financing.
Modelling Yield Curve in Less Liquid Markets (G1, C4)
Less liquid markets for government bonds (LLMs) are characterized by many well recognized challenges which reduce the reliability of the classic Nelson-Siegel-Svensson NSS parsimonious approach. We document key stylized facts about government bond markets concerning liquidity, diversity of maturities available, bid-ask spread in price quotes, as well as price distortion in the very short end of the curve due to switch auctions. Based on these facts, we augment the NSS approach with model- and data-driven endogenous system of weights which permits reliable estimation of yield curves in LLMs. We apply our approach to the data for one of the largest European emerging markets: Poland. Through a battery of sensitivity analyses we show that there exists a class of weights that systematically gives better results than the classic NSS approach. The best fit weights have at least the same weight for the short end of the curve as a sum for all other tenors of bonds. It proves that inferring from the liquidity in particular maturities raises the information content and quality of yield curve estimation, which links our results to the pure expectation hypothesis (PEH).
Monetary Instruments and Inflation in Nigeria: A Revisit of FAVAR (E5, C5)
This paper revisits the potency of the Factor Augment Vector Autoregression (FAVAR) model to trace the impact of notable monetary policy instruments on inflation in Nigeria. Having identified the latent information from the unobserved variables using the factor analysis approach, we retained the variables with higher communality and eliminate those with higher uniqueness. Our results show no immediate evidence of "price and liquidity puzzles", contrary to Bernake et al (2005) and other notable authors. The estimated factors improve the inflation forecast for Nigeria. Our results further show that there exists a high impact of monetary policy rate on Inflation, and the persistent increase in the unobserved information of short-term interest rates and monetary aggregates serves as an effective monetary channel or transmission mechanism of the Nigerian monetary system. Moreover, we find that inflation is mostly driven by food consumer price indices and a good FAVAR estimation should not only involve increasing the selected factors but also eliminate variables whose variance contributes least to the variances shared by the common factor. Consequently, for Monetary Policy Rate (MPR), Treasury Bill Rate (TBR), and Cash Reserve Ratio (CRR) to be an effective policy instrument, they need to be anchored on efficient operating and monetary targets.
Monetary Policy in a Small Open Economy with Multiple Monetary Assets (E4, E5)
To examine the impact of openness on the volatility of macroeconomic variables in a small and open economy, we revisit the issues of money measurement. I compare the behavior of different money measures in the context of the New Keynesian framework with sticky price. I introduce the banking sector into the model, which allows the accommodation of multiple monetary assets like currency and interest-bearing-deposits. The central bank conducts its monetary policy via a simple interest rate rule. I explore the responses of different money measures, namely simple-sum, monetary base, and Divisia quantity aggregate with respect to domestic and foreign shocks and compare these responses with those from a theoretical benchmark. I find that Divisia tracks the movement of money most closely to the benchmark, followed by monetary base, while simple sum often does not match the correct trend. I analyze the impact of openness, which has an inverse relation with home-bias in consumption, on the volatility of macroeconomic variables. I find that as a small economy becomes more open, domestic inflation and nominal interest rate are more volatile while term of trade and exchange rate become more stable. Among the different money measures, monetary base and Divisia follow the monetary aggregate benchmark to become less volatile as consumption becomes less home-biased, while simple-sum, again, does not.
Monetary Policy Interactions: The Policy Rate, Asset Purchases, and Optimal Policy with an Interest Rate Peg (E5, E4)
We study monetary policy in a New Keynesian model with a variable term premium and scope for central bank asset purchases to matter. A version of the Divine Coincidence holds with both the short-term rate and balance sheet as available policy tools. Active balance sheet management can support a determinate rational expectations equilibrium under a permanent interest rate peg. Fixing the policy rate is four times more costly than fixing the balance sheet with the optimal monetary policy under commitment. A textbook treatment of optimal interest rate policy shows that the central bank's loss function directly penalizes term premium fluctuations.
Monetary Policy, Excess Reserves and Credit Supply: Old-Style versus New-Style Central Banking (E5, E4)
The operational framework in the U.S. changed in 2008 as a consequence of the unconventional policies implemented to mitigate the Great Financial Crisis. This change in the operational framework at the Fed can be summarized as a switch from a “corridor” to a “floor” system.
In this paper I examine the effects of this switch on the monetary transmission mechanism. Concretely, I analyze if the bank-lending channel changed due to the alterations in the operational system.
To this end, I develop a regime-switching two-agent New-Keynesian (TANK) model with an interbank market to compare both systems. Monetary policy is implemented via Open-Market Operations and thus, the model is able to capture both dimensions of conventional policy, i.e. the interbank target (or Federal Funds) rate and the central bank's balance sheet size.
I find that under a corridor system real activity declines after a monetary contraction in line with Bernanke and Blinder (1988). However, under a floor system, monetary tightening stimulates credit supply, and hence aggregate demand. The reason for this counterintuitive result is that, without a binding reserve requirement constraint, a fall in reserves reduces a friction introduced by the presence of liquidity management costs. A smaller friction enables banks to obtain more deposits, and thus to increase credit supply.
Additional simulations support the Fed’s decision to keep a floor system, since a run on the non-bank money market participants has no consequences for aggregate demand under the new operational framework. Finally, I assess the Fed’s 2019 plan to increase the level of excess reserves and conclude with a word of caution: under the new system, monetary expansion could affect real economic activity in a contractionary manner.
Monetary-Fiscal Policy Interactions in an Era of Unconventional Policies (E6, E5)
This article assesses whether the introduction of unconventional monetary policy has helped the Bank of Japan respond actively to the inflation rate. Then we address what roles monetary and fiscal policy stances play on the behavior of inflation in Japan. A Markov switching dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with changes in monetary/fiscal policy interaction is estimated. The special feature is to integrate the shadow interest rate in our model, which can be interpreted as an aggregate that captures the overall effect of unconventional monetary policies as well as conventional monetary policy. Focusing in particular on the prolonged deflation observed in Japan, we find that Japan's policy regime was characterized by the combination of passive monetary and passive fiscal policy. We quantitatively clarify that this combination played a substantial role in propagating negative demand shocks, leading to prolonged deflation. But, after the introduction of unconventional monetary policy, monetary policy then has switched from a passive regime to an active regime. We show that the policy regime change has helped to push up inflation.
Moral Hazard under Contagion (C7, L2)
We study dynamic partnerships where the output evolves stochastically, each player can exit at any time, and players who have exited continue to enjoy some benefits if the remaining players keep contributing to the partnership. Players can free-ride on their partners’ contributions, knowing that it may trigger subsequent defections of their partners. The unique equilibrium features a curse of productivity: An increase in the output of a partnership may strictly harm all the players by exacerbating free-riding. Another main finding is that a partnership’s ability to sustain cooperation is non-monotonic in its group size.
More than Just Babies: Paid Family Leave and Caregiver Outcomes (J1, J4)
The large and rapidly growing paid family leave literature primarily focuses on health and labor outcomes for new parents and children, overlooking the 20 percent of claims for caregiving. As the Baby Boomer generation ages, an increasing share of the labor force will be older workers, and many of these older workers (particularly women) will also have caregiving responsibilities for their older parents and in-laws. The availability of paid leave allows caregivers to take a short leave to care for a family member and return to the labor force rather than exiting entirely to provide the necessary care. This project utilizes Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) data to estimate the impact of state paid family leave programs (primarily California Paid Family Leave implemented in 2004) on extensive and intensive measures of employment rates and retirement among caregivers. Preliminary findings show no significant changes along the extensive margin of currently working or currently retired. Along the intensive margin, however, those eligible for paid family leave work 7 more hours per week and 5 more weeks per year. Additionally, they are 8 percentage points less likely to be partially retired and the average age at retirement increased by about 1 year. This research elucidates the burdens aging women face balancing work and caregiving to inform future policy to support this generation.
Move On Up: Electrification and Internal Migration (H4, J6)
This study uses the large scale roll-out of electric transmission infrastructure in Nigeria during the years 2010 to 2015 to quantify the effect of electrification on agricultural productivity and internal migration. I combine household panel data on agricultural production and migration of household members with remote-sensing data on observed cropland area at grid cell level. The estimation strategy relies on spatio-temporal variation in distance to the electric transmission grid. To address endogenous grid location, I create a hypothetical grid based on least construction costs and condition on distance to the closest electric substation. Results show an increase in agricultural production, wages and land inputs following the construction of new transmission lines, while agricultural labor demand does not increase. In addition, transmission lines increase the migration propensity of household members, in particular children aged 13-18. Analysis of origin-destination data using a gravity model reveales that electrification accelerates rural to urban migration. Results are robust to the inclusion of numerous economic and political control variables, the inclusion of changes in road infrastructure and placebo tests using data on planned future grid.
Moved to Poverty? A Legacy of Apartheid in South Africa (I0, N0)
This paper examines the consequences of the homeland system set up by the apartheid government in South Africa. This system forced Black people to live in homelands and as consequence several million individuals were moved to such areas during the 1960s and 1970s, resulting in one of history’s largest segregation policy experiments. We examine how and why relocation to the homelands affected human capital attainment. We exploit the staggered timing of homeland establishment in a cross-cohort identification strategy that compares migrants and homeland natives. Our basic finding is that moving to the homelands during childhood significantly reduces educational attainment. The magnitude of this effect is particularly pronounced for early childhood exposure, consistent with the importance of events and circumstances during critical periods of child development. The policy also had important consequences on individual success in the labor market: exposed cohorts are significantly less likely to work and have lower income in adulthood. Our examination of possible mechanisms suggests an important role for place effects. Moving to the homelands at earlier ages implies greater childhood exposure to poorer neighborhoods and it disproportionally reduces human capital attainment. The findings of this paper illustrate how discriminatory policies against specific ethnic groups can have long-lasting consequences and increase ethnic inequality.
Mutual Risk Sharing and Fintech: The Case of Xiang Hu Bao (O3, G5)
Xiang Hu Bao (XHB), meaning "mutual protection" in Chinese, is a novel online platform operated by Alibaba's Ant Financial to facilitate mutual risk sharing of critical illness exposures. XHB reached nearly 100 million members in less than one year since its launch and so far has offered its members critical illness protections at significantly lower cost than traditional critical illness insurance. There are three major distinctions between XHB and traditional insurance products. First, XHB leverages the tech giant's platform and digital technology to lower enrollment and claim processing costs. Second, different from insurance applying sophisticated actuarial pricing models, XHB collects no premiums ex ante from members, but instead equally allocates indemnities and administrative costs among participants after each claims period. Third, XHB limits coverage amount, often below critical illness insurance products, particularly for older participants. We show this restriction potentially leads to separating equilibrium, a la Rothschild-Stiglitz, where low-risk individuals enroll in XHB while high-risk individuals purchase critical illness insurance. Data shows that the incidence rate of the covered illness among XHB members is well below that of comparable critical illness insurance. Our findings further suggest the role of advantageous selection in explaining the cost advantages of the Fintech-based mutual protection programs.
New Economics of Regulation: Financial Stability as a Social Dilemma (H4, G1)
This article is an exploratory essay on financial regulation and stability in the light of the 2007-2008 turmoil. It seeks to bring forth the major characteristics of the regulatory environment that let the crisis dynamics develop in spite of numerous warning signs that became apparent from the years 2005. In this vein, I draw upon the New Economics of Regulation (Laffont, 1994).I then suggest a non-cooperative communication game between an extra-market (a public) regulator and the market players (the regulatees) and study the rules that could lead to a relevant incentives mechanism. These rules should perform in their communication and coordination role by allowing financial institutions to undertake activities that are consistent with systemic stability. Compared with the literature developed on this issue, the article offers an alternative perspective to financial stability. It assumes that systemic stability is a public good that decentralized market mechanisms cannot provide. I borrow from the analysis of Ostrom (1998) on the commons and collective action and argue that financial regulation takes on systemic importance since a smooth functioning of markets requires continuous and sustainable provision of financial stability. The implementation of the model rests on a comparison between two alternative communication processes: a binding mediation-based revelation model and a low-constraints-based cheap talk process. The optimal framework is a function of a given environment. Each alternative reveals to be relevant only under a set of specific conditions. The relevance of a regulatory framework then rests on the consistency of an institutional environment with regard to the institutional characteristics of the economy. A possible implementation of the results can be considered in all areas of public choice that partially involve market mechanisms and that have to face coordination problems in order to respond to societal shocks such as the current Covid pandemic.
New Evidence on Monetary Transmission: Interest Rate versus Inflation Target Shocks (E5, E4)
This paper presents new empirical evidence on monetary transmission by incorporating two types of shocks -- a standard temporary interest rate shock and a persistent inflation target shock. In an estimated DSGE model under imperfect information, in which we address the concern that agents, in reality, may not be able to distinguish between these two types, we find delayed Neo-Fisherian behavior in response to the persistent shock: interest rate and inflation increase, but with a lag. In an empirical VAR model that accounts for such uncertainty in identifying assumptions, we similarly find evidence for positive co-movement of interest rates and inflation in the short aftermath of the persistent shock, however, not on impact. This finding suggests that agents need time to learn the nature of the monetary shock and adjust their expectations, consistent with the predictions of the DSGE model under imperfect information.
New Products (O3, L2)
We introduce a new measure of innovation based on important product launches by public firms in the US. Our measure is based on stock-market reactions to media articles – classified by a convolutional neural network approach as referring to new product introductions – and has two distinct advantages. First, it covers the entire spectrum of industries and is not limited to products sold by retail firms. Second, we rely on collective wisdom about product value expressed through financial markets. This lends a forward-looking aspect to our measure, and helps avoid issues associated with valuing new types of output in a changing economy. Using our measure, we derive a few stylized facts. We show that product innovations are highly persistent, both at the firm- and at the industry-level. Firms that launch more new products are larger, and they typically operate in industries that are more competitive.
Newborns during the Crisis: Evidence from the 1980s’ Farm Crisis (I1, G5)
This paper overcomes an identification challenge in the literature of wealth-health relationship by proposing a novel research design. By studying an interest rate shock that triggered a severe farm credit crisis in the 1980s, I analyze the health effect of wealth losses due to the crisis on infant birth outcomes. To address the endogeneity concern about wealth losses, I construct an instrument using the interaction of land specialization and starting time of the shock. The variation of land specialization stems from the difference in geo-climatic condition suitable for agricultural production, which is exogeneous to local economic condition. I find that great wealth losses were detrimental to the well-being of newborns. A ten percent increase in net wealth raised the low-birth weight rate by 0.1 percentage points and reduced the actual birth weight by 3 grams. I also present evidence that household expenditure reductions in food and health care might be the main contributor to worse infant health outcomes. Households living in areas having more wealth losses also reduced more food consumption and prenatal care visits.
News and Networks: Using Text Analytics to Assess Bank Networks During COVID-19 Crisis (G2, C0)
We study the 'interconnectedness' of stress-tested banks by exploiting how they are mentioned together in the context of financial news. We start by constructing weekly co-occurrence network matrices following Ronnqvist and Sarlin (2015) text-to-network approach. Using the COVID-19 pandemic as an external shock, we examine how bank networks behave during high stress periods. We find that banks become more interconnected during peaks of COVID-19 induced stress. We put forth a new measure of systemic risk that utilizes text-based eigenvector centrality. This measure provides a more stable ranking system than the traditional SRISK measure during both high and low stress periods.
No going back: COVID-19 disease threat perceptions and migrants’ willingness to return to work in India (J6, I1)
In this paper, we explore the link between the likelihood of re-migration to cities and the perceived threat of contracting COVID-19 using data on reverse migrant workers in India collected using a telephonic survey. We find that individuals who perceive a significant chance of contracting COVID-19 have significantly lower stated likelihood to return to their urban work centres. We observe heterogeneity with respect to duration of migration as longer-term migrants perceive a lower disease threat than short-term migrants. With respect to socio-demographics, we find that having dependents and owning more land increases the threat perception of COVID-19. Moreover, bigger landowners and married individuals display lower projected likelihood of return to urban work centres. We also find that a rising number of unique sources of information accessed and a lower recall of preventive measures are associated with a higher COVID-19 threat perception. Finally, we find that loss-averse individuals display lower disease threat perception, whereas more impatient individuals have higher COVID-19 risk perception. Thus, a key policy takeaway from our results is that along with standard economic incentives, behavioural factors and access to information regarding COVID-19 crucially determine migrants' potential return to urban workplaces.
Nonparametric Analysis of Financial Development and Consumption (G2, E2)
In this paper we analyze the effect of financial development on consumption using nonparametric regression methods for panel data.
In high-income countries, financial development has a positive impact on consumption. However, the responsiveness of consumption to financial development decreases as the level of financial development rises.
In low-income countries, intermediate levels of financial development appear to be associated with lower consumption, while variations in the level of financial development in the tails appear not to affect consumption.
The response of consumption to the remaining regressors has a magnitude and sign along the lines of what previous literature on the subject has found. However, the results suggest that these responses are nonlinear, depending not only on the level of the regressor, but also on the level of financial development.
Not that way! An Exploration of the Social Free-rider Problem as Cause of the Boomerang Effect from Social Norm Information (C9, D8)
Social norm information is often used to nudge people towards prosocial behavior, yet in some instances a boomerang effect may occur that can potentially cause unintended harm. While there have been several explanations for why boomerang effects occur, the standard literature does not provide explanations based in economic theory. As these nudges are often used in campaigns of societal importance, it is valuable to understand under what circumstances the boomerang effect will occur. One cause of a boomerang effect that we explore is a free-rider problem whereby the social norm information acts as a mechanism of updating prior probabilities on the actions of others. In this study, we explore the free-rider problem in the context of the boomerang effect from social norm information and estimate its effects in a laboratory experiment through a modified dictator game with the option for punishment. We find evidence that social norm information may result in boomeranged behavior in this context, particularly for females.
Objectified Housing Sales and Rent Prices in Representative Household Surveys: the Impact on Macroeconomic Statistics (E5, G1)
Reliable macro-economic housing and wealth statistics as well as counterfactual analyses across housing tenure status require hypothetical sales and rent price estimates reflecting current market conditions and representing the housing stock. We replace subjectively estimated values by participants in the Luxembourg Household Finance and Consumption Survey by objectified values imputed via hedonic models estimated on observable market transactions. We characterise survey participants who tend to under- or over-report, respectively, and find strong correlations with tenure length, tenure type, type of dwelling, as well as household income and wealth.
We find structural shifts in the wealth distribution, detect large regional variation in price-to-rent, price-to-income and rent-to-income ratios as well as stark affordability concerns: only 15\% of all renting households could theoretically afford and would economically benefit from purchasing their inhabited dwelling given current market conditions. Renters that could afford such a purchase are typically below 35, placed at the top of the wealth and income distribution and reside outside of Luxembourg City.
On Optimal Currency Areas and Common Cycles: Are the Acceding Countries Ready to Join the Euro? (F3, E3)
The former EU president Jean-Claude Junker has proposed that all countries of the European Union should also adopt the euro as their currency and recent research has shown that countries currently pursuing this goal indeed fulfill the classical Optimal Currency Area (OCA) criterion of positively correlated shocks with the European Monetary Union (EMU). We illustrate, however, that not only the correlation of shocks but also a common impulse response pattern over time is needed for a currency area to be optimal. We test this additional OCA criterion using the concept of a common serial correlation test. The test clearly rejects the notion that the potentially acceding countries share a common cyclical response pattern with the EMU aggregate – except for Sweden. Instead, the business cycles in most of the other countries exhibit only a very weak form of codependence.
On the Macroeconomic Effects of Shadow Banking Development (E3, O4)
We build and estimate a dynamic stochastic general equilibrium model with risky innovation and shadow credits to study the macroeconomic implications of shadow banking (SB), particularly on productivity. Our analysis is motivated by negative relationships between SB development and innovation outcome or total factor productivity (TFP) growth. In our model, information asymmetry associated with technology utilisation leads to an agency problem in which shadow intermediation reduces banks’ incentives to screen project quality. An SB boom crowd-out traditional financial services, decreases innovation quality and technology efficiency, and thereby reduces TFP. In the light of model mechanisms, we analyse cross-country differences and deliver important implications of SB. SB development mainly driven by financial factors (e.g., the US case) leads to significant loss on TFP while that relatively prompted by real-sided factors (e.g., China and the EA cases), could be less harmful.
On the Origin of Cognition: How Childhood Conditions Shape Cognitive Function at Older Age (J1, I1)
The paper examines the long-term impact of early childhood conditions on the cognitive function at older age. Using a unique data from a longitudinal survey of Chinese elderly aged 65 and above, we find the old people who experienced poorer nutrition and medical conditions during their childhood and whose fathers were uneducated tend to have lower cognitive ability. In addition, poor nutrition in childhood and the uneducated father or mother predict significant faster deterioration in cognition at older age. We also find significant gender differences in the association. Girls suffer more in cognitive development in late life due to worse childhood conditions than boys. Further mechanism analyses suggest educational attainment accounts for about 20 to 30 percent of the associations between early life circumstances and both the level and the speed of decline of cognitive function at older age.
Opacity, Signaling, and Bail-ins (G2, E4)
Should banks be transparent in the presence of bail-ins? Banks experiencing losses may bail-in creditors to allocate resources efficiently. However, if banks privately learn the losses, bail-ins may signal the asset quality. When bail-ins do not signal the quality, banks immediately bail-in creditors and sell assets at a pooled price, insuring creditors against asset risks. When bail-ins signal the quality, banks attempt to delay bail-ins to sell assets at a higher price. Such incentives can cause excessive short-term repayments. To avoid costly signaling, banks choose to be transparent or opaque so that they will not know asset qualities privately.
Optimal corporate leverage and speculative cycles: an empirical estimation (C5, G3)
This paper develops an empirical model of corporate capital structure and overleveraging.
Motivated by the Stein (2012) model for optimal debt this paper extends the analysis into
the corporate sector for a sample of 89 corporations across six leading industries:
technology, financial, pharmaceutical, auto, airline and energy. Calculated for each firm,
the model allows to infer an industry specific default risk measuring overleveraging as the
difference between actual and optimal debt. The results from the above estimations
suggest that the estimated corporate excess debt has largely been moving up, spiking
around the crisis period, i.e., the global financial crisis and then continuing into recovery.
This trend is consistent with an increase in the actual debt across industries, though the
average excess debt ratios vary by sector. These results are informative for more applied
future outlook studies assessing the pandemic scenarios. More broadly, the results of this
paper also conform to the general Kaleckian-Minskyan analytical framework suggesting
a possibility of rising speculative bubble in the economy over the medium term.
Optimal Sample Allocation in Experimental Studies Probing Mediation Effects (C9, C6)
Experimental studies investigating main treatment effects have been widely used in economics, psychology, education, and other social sciences to evaluate whether a treatment works or not. Meanwhile, mediation analysis can probe the mechanisms through which an intervention impacts an outcome. Experimental studies employing mediation analyses to investigate the mechanisms through which a treatment operates on an outcome often lay the cornerstone for the critical development and iterative improvement of a specific treatment.
A key consideration in designing experimental studies probing main and mediation effects is to determine an efficient sampling plan such that the design will use the minimum resource to achieve an adequate statistical power (e.g., 80%). However, the literature has rarely provided guidance on how to design efficient and well-powered experiments that aim to assess both main and mediation effects. In this paper, we developed a flexible optimal design framework for experimental studies investing both main and mediation effects by leveraging and modeling the cost of sampling in a power analysis framework.
In our derivation, we considered two inferential tests of mediation (e.g., Sobel test, joint significance test) and the inclusion of covariates. The results suggest that the proposed framework can identify efficient sampling plans and is robust to misspecifications of concomitant design parameters (e.g., cost structures of sampling). To facilitate end-user calculations, we have implemented these formulas in the R package odr.
Outmigration and Tax Rates: Will the Wealthy Leave? (H7, J6)
Are wealthy people likely to move where tax rates are lower? I show that differences in real estate tax rates between two counties influence the migration of people at different income levels. I exploit variation in outmigration and real estate tax rates at the county-level from the IRS’s Statistics of Income (SOI) and Zillow's Home Value Index. I find that real estate tax rates matter for migration except for the wealthy upper 25%.
Overborrowing & Shadow Banking (G2, G1)
In this paper I show that the existence of unregulated financial institutions (“shadow banks”) generates overborrowing (relative to the socially optimal level) in competitive equilibrium. This is because borrowers fail to internalize that an additional unit of borrowing, when the financial sector is well functioning, has adverse effects on the credit conditions they will face if a crisis arises. The social planner therefore has a motive to intervene to reduce borrowing in good times so as to limit the severity of a crisis. The discretionary planner’s optimal allocation can be decentralized either using borrower based instruments or via regulation of financial intermediaries. The optimal regulation of commercial banks is pro-cyclical.
Paid Family Leave and Unpaid Eldercare (J1, I1)
As the size of the older population in the U.S. grows, informal care provided by family and friends remains an important source of long-term care. In addition to demographic transitions, COVID-19 has drastically increased eldercare needs by disproportionately impacting elderly individuals. However, informal caregiving is associated with a reduction in labor force attachment for caregivers of working age. As a measure to support employed caregivers, some states have implemented paid family leave (PFL) policies for increased flexibility of work for caregivers. This paper evaluates the impact of PFL in California, New Jersey, and Rhode Island on the labor and health outcomes of middle-aged individuals with parents or spouse in need of eldercare using rich panel data. I analyze heterogeneous effects by gender and class of the caregiver. Findings suggest that a parent or spouse's health shock decreases potential caregivers' labor force participation, increases their retirement probability, but does not impact their self-reported physical or mental health. State-level paid family leave did not offset the negative impact of care needs on labor outcomes. This study contributes to policymakers designing leave policies to address increasing eldercare needs due to aging populations and the pandemic by discussing the differential impacts of paid leave policy on unpaid caregivers’ outcomes.
Pandemic Babies: The Effects of Medical Procedure Delays on Infant and Maternal Health (I1, J1)
This paper studies the extent to which delaying or skipping medical care affects infant and maternal health, using medical procedure delay executive orders issued by more than thirty US states at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and a nationwide large claims dataset. Fuzzy RD estimates suggest that infants born after the orders are issued are more likely to experience postponed emergency room or urgent care visits, miss immunizations, have health issues related to the perinatal period, and show delayed physiological development, particularly among those less than four months old. Moreover, difference-in-difference results show delayed medical care threatens infant health through maternal health. Newborns delivered by women with pregnancy exposure to procedure delay orders are more likely to be low birth weight, and women are more likely to develop pregnancy-related health problems after procedure delay orders.
Parental Inputs and Child Outcomes (I0, J0)
This paper exploits the introduction of a Swedish “daddy-month” reform in a
difference-in-discontinuities design to study how fathers’ parental leave affects children’s
human capital. Results show that the reform improved average compulsory
school-leaving GPAs of sons of college educated fathers by 0.06 standard deviations,
while GPAs of sons of non-college educated fathers declined by 0.05 standard
deviations. We estimate that the reform increased intergenerational persistence of
human capital by ten percent for boys with no corresponding effects for girls. We
provide suggestive evidence that these results are linked to asymmetric impacts on
family stability and role model effects.
Parents in a Pandemic Labor Market (J1, D0)
Gender gaps in labor market outcomes during the pandemic are largely due to differences across parents: Employment and labor force participation fell much less for fathers as compared to women and non-parent men at the onset of the pandemic; the recovery has been more pronounced for men and women without children, and; the labor force participation rate of mothers has resumed declining following the start of the school year. The latter is partially offset in states with limited school re-openings. Evidence suggests flexibility in setting work schedules offsets some of the adverse impact of the pandemic on mothers’ employment, while the ability to work from home does not. We additionally find that employment and labor force participation fell more for black and Hispanic mothers, and that their recovery took longer than that of white mothers. Preliminary results using a matched sample show that the distinction between part-time and full-time employment prior to the pandemic have an effect on rates of exiting the labor force, with part-time workers leaving at greater rates than full-time workers.
Passive Investing and Price Efficiency (G1, G2)
This paper studies how falling fees for delegated investments affect price efficiency in a theoretical framework, in which the investors’ allocations, management fees, and asset prices are all determined in a general equilibrium. Importantly, investors optimally decide whether to participate in the financial market or simply hold the safe asset, and active managers trade strategically, adjusting the traded quantities according to market liquidity. Perhaps surprisingly, and in contrast to the broad theoretical literature, prices of the index fund become more efficient as passive fees decrease and more investors choose the uninformed index fund. Prices can become more efficient even when the inflow to passive funds comes at the expense of the outflow from active funds, as has been the case more recently since 2007. Combined with the observed downward trend in fees, the finding is consistent with recent empirical evidence that prices, especially those of S&P 500, have become more informative over time.
Patent Boxes and the Success Rate of Applications (H2, O3)
Patent boxes significantly reduce the corporate tax rate applied to income earned from a patent. This incentivizes firms to increase the likelihood of a patent application being granted by creating more novel research and using more successful legal representation when filing the application. Conversely, it supports submitting applications for marginally novel innovations that otherwise would not have been submitted, lowering the probability of success. We use data from applications to the European Patent Office from 1978 to 2019 and find that the introduction of a patent box increases the average success rate of applications from large, corporate innovators by 6.9 percent- age points. This impact only materializes two years after a patent box takes effect, suggesting that improved research effort is the dominant response by firms. Therefore patent boxes may help to increase innovation novelty and improve the overall quality of research.
Pattern Making and Pattern Breaking: Measuring Novelty in Brazilian Economics (O3, Z1)
How do new ideas emerge in academic contexts and what forces determine which ideas get selected and which are forgotten? We analyze more than 1,600 papers presented at the ANPEC Brazilian Economics Meetings from 2013 to 2019 using topic modeling and relative entropy measures. In contrast to simply counting citations or reference combinations, these methods explore the information in the actual texts to detect the rise of new patterns and whether these patterns persist once they have been established. We find that novelty is highly correlated with transience so that most new ideas are quickly forgotten. However, of the ideas that persist those that are more novel have a higher impact. We show that our text-based measure of impact is correlated with subsequent citations. Our results provide a metric to compare the nature of research at the level of Brazilian Economics departments as well as for individual researchers. Finally, we analyze how the selection procedures for the ANPEC meetings affect the incentives for economists to pursue more novel or conventional research.
Paying Interest on Reserves to Promote Liquidity (E5, G2)
Liquidity regulation is the conventional policy deployed to correct insufficient liquid-asset holdings by banks. In a standard banking model in which under laissez faire banks hold excessively illiquid asset porfolios, I find that payment of interest on reserves, by strengthening banks’ incentive to hold liquid assets, equivalently corrects this distortion. In fact, it is the optimal policy intervention, since it does not act as a tax on banks and thus, unlike liquidity regulation, avoids financial disintermediation. In an extension, I show that payment of interest on reserves has a fiscal cost and therefore distortionary taxation implies a lower optimal level of interest on reserves.
Perception and Reality. Evaluation of Elite Football Women’s and Men’s Performance (C9, Z2)
Societies are conditioned to provide consumers almost exclusively with male sports.1 Research commonly assumes that one main reason why female sports are underrepresented is because of performance differences between females and males.2 While physiological differences are unquestionable, it is unknown if consumers are able to distinguish between female and male sports. Thus, we use videos of professional women and men soccer players to test this hypothesis, blurring the players to conceal their gender. Here we show, that consumers are unable to distinguish between female and male soccer when the gender is invisible. Participants prefer men’s soccer videos when the gender of the players is visible. These findings reveal a bias in the evaluation of men’s and women’s soccer. Our results demonstrate that not performance differences but other factors, e.g., social expectations, have an important influence how consumers evaluate female sports.
Political Action Committee Activity and the Elasticity of Demand (H0, E6)
Considerable attention is paid to the amount of money in politics, including the role of Political Action Committees (PACs). It is generally assumed the money raised is spent to pursue political ends. This makes sense on the face. However, that does not seem to sufficiently explain the variations in activity among political committees. This work examines the amount raised and spent by PACs from different economic sectors. The author will then incorporate the price elasticity of demand as the independent variable to explain PACs' activity better.
The research incorporates the aggregation of PAC dollars across five election cycles, according to public records, and will draw from existing studies of the price elasticity of demand for specific goods. Not surprisingly, many PACs are distributed by sector and good.
This work is influenced by political science research which suggests that corporate donations have minimal influence on policy outcomes. (Hansen, Rocca, & Ortiz) Also, Acemoglu et al. look at the effect of the price elasticity of demand on other political events and argue a “key parameter determining the incentives for war is the elasticity of demand.”
This paper is part of a broader research agenda that looks at the influence the collective demand for goods has on politics.
Political Repression, Media Propaganda, and Nation Building (N4, D7)
In the conquest of China in the mid-17th century, the Manchu-led Qing government oppressed the Han Chinese, the native population of China. Two and a half centuries later, when modern newspaper technology became available, revolutionary propagandists took advantage of a retelling of the political repression and resistance to fan the flames of discontent. Applying machine learning to analyze 0.3 million newspaper article titles, I examine the interaction between the anti-Manchu propaganda and the historical repression and resistance. I find that prefectures with repression and resistance responded more to the anti-Manchu propaganda and produced more revolutionaries. After the revolution, revolutionaries strove to build a modern nation-state by organizing the Kuomintang party, army, and government. The results indicate that propaganda utilizing repression and resistance shaped the political identity and played a pivotal role in the political transformation of modern China.
Polygyny, Inequality, and Social Unrest (J1, D7)
Is polygyny related to social unrest? We propose three theoretical mechanisms related to different dimensions of grievance-inducing and greed-related inequality, which may occur in polygynous societies:
(i) Economic, reproductive and social inequality resulting in relative deprivation among non-elite men (‘vertical inequality’ where polygyny implies a monopolization of women by the elite).
(ii) Inequality within elites when it comes to the distribution of resources and inheritance, both related to the relative position of dependent family members in a clan (‘horizontal inequality’ where the polygynous elite itself may fall victim of instability and internal violence).
(iii) Gender inequality in general, since highly patriarchal structures and inequality between sexes make up the core of polygynous family structures. In order to earn the bride price, women are ‘sold’ into marriages by their families, thereby reinforcing the dominant role of males and foregoing the benefits of more gender-diverse societal and political structures, such as women’s more peaceful strategies of conflict resolution.
Using data for 41 African countries from 1990-2014, we provide evidence for these mechanisms and their relationship to four different types of social unrest. We find that medium levels of polygyny, gender inequality and vertical economic inequality are positively associated with both the intensity and incidence of all four types of social unrest under consideration. For horizontal inequality, the feasibility of mobilization seems to be particularly important. Countries with higher average incomes and high levels of inequality within polygynous families have a higher probability of unrest compared to similar countries without horizontal inequality.
The robustness of our results is tested through alternative and complementary hypotheses such as strategic behavior of elites, population growth that relaxes tight marriage markets, and an excess of male deaths that could possibly be balanced by polygynous marriages (implying possible reverse causation), all of which we are able to reject.
Positive Public Financing Shocks could Increase Local Racial Disparity (I2)
This paper shows that a positive local financial shock has heterogeneous effects on academic achievement. White students show meaningful improvement, but Black and Hispanic students do not. Consequently, the achievement racial gap widens following the shock. Changes in school funding are not responsible for this phenomenon; rather, it is explained by heterogeneous outcomes in household Socioeconomic Status (SES). Consistent with racial segregation hindering the even distribution of economic gains, the achievement racial gap widens more in more racially segregated areas. These results highlight the possibility that a credit shock induced increase in government spending could perversely increase local racial disparity.
Practice the Purpose Preach: Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Corporate Purpose on Workers’ Willingness to Go the Extra Mile (M0, M5)
Academics and business leaders increasingly call for a (re)definition of corporate purpose beyond profit-maximization to create value by contributing to the welfare of society and planet. In this context, the present paper employs a two-phase natural field experiment to investigate whether, when and how the communication of a corporate purpose influences workers’ willingness to complete unrequired extra work. The main findings show that receiving information about an employer’s corporate purpose causes workers to complete more extra work. Workers whose personal preferences match with the organization’s purpose are most responsive. For those workers the communication of a corporate purpose in combination with an authentic purpose practice further increases their additional work performance, whereas a non-authentic purpose practice backfires. Furthermore, we find evidence that the underlaying mechanism is primarily driven through an increase in workers’ meaning of work. In a broader context, the findings that workers are willing to go the extra mile working for an organization with purpose provide some empirical indications in support of the theoretically proposed business case of purpose.
Preschool and Child Health: Evidence from China’s Subsidized Child Care Program (I2, H5)
Early childhood education programs have been found to be effective for promoting children’s social and cognitive development. However, less research has investigated the health impacts associated with these programs. Using a quasi-experiment of the first universal child care program in China from 2010, this paper aims to identify whether preschool attendance together with nutrition and health services at school produces any short-term effects on health-related outcomes of preschoolers. I exploit the variation in the number of subsidized preschools across provinces and implement difference-in-differences and triple-difference strategies. Results confirm the effectiveness of this program by showing a strong and positive impact on preschool attendance. This study then documents the benefits to alleviating undernutrition. Specifically, a preschooler from high-intensity provinces is 5 percentage points less likely to be underweight than their counterparts from low-intensity provinces. Estimates show a larger effect in rural areas, suggesting a result of narrowing the rural-urban gap in education access and undernutrition preventions. However, I find no impact on overweight probability. There is also evidence showing that the program has encouraged caregivers of preschoolers to refer kids to a doctor when kids get sick, instead of finding medicines by themselves.
Present-Biased Households and Monetary Policy (E7, E5)
We build a behavioral New Keynesian model with present-biased households’ and show that the natural interest rate and the present bias are positively related. The higher (weaker) the bias, the higher (lower) the natural interest rate in the economy. Our present bias endogenization demonstrates that higher present bias is likely to occur under lower macro volatilities, higher cognitive costs, and higher relative risk aversion. Using Bayesian estimation, our empirical results elucidate key behavioral mechanisms driving the decline in natural interest rates during crises. High volatilities characterizing crises tend to increase the agents’ awareness and weaken their present bias, which in turn lowers the natural interest rate. This mechanism increases the likelihood of the Zero Lower Bound occurrence during crises. We also study optimal monetary policy and show that present-bias introduces a new channel through which monetary policy stance could change abruptly following a disturbance.
Price Pressure and the Turn-of-the-month Effect: Evidence from Retirement Accounts (G1)
One popular explanation behind the turn-of-the-month (ToM) effect – the fact that stock returns are higher on days surrounding the turn of calendar months – is that people typically get their salaries at this time, and their investment in equities creates price pressure around those days. We test this hypothesis using a hand-collected comprehensive sample of mutual funds contained in 401K retirement accounts in the US, which constitute a substantial chunk of equity investments of the salaried. We find no evidence to support this hypothesis. While the ToM effect is still present in the data, stocks held by retirement funds which get large inflows of capital at ends-of-month do not exhibit a stronger ToM effect. On the other hand, we find evidence that stocks heavily held by retirement account funds have significantly higher returns in the middle-of-the-month. Evidence from Target date funds corroborates both these results.
Pricing Protest: The Response of Financial Markets to Social Unrest (E7, G1)
Using a new daily index of social unrest, we provide systematic evidence on the negative impact of social unrest on stock market performance. An average social unrest episode in a typical country causes a 1.4 percentage point drop in cumulative abnormal returns over the two-week event window. This drop is more pronounced for events that last longer and for events that happen in emerging markets. Stronger institutions, particularly better governance and more democratic systems, mitigate the adverse impact of social unrest on stock market returns.
Product Recalls, Market Size, and Innovation in the Pharmaceutical Industry (I1, O3)
The idea that research investments respond to market rewards is well established in the literature on markets for innovation (Schmookler, 1966; Acemoglu Linn, 2004; Bryan Williams, 2021). Empirical evidence tells us that a change in market size, such as the one measured by demographical shifts, is associated with an increase in the number of new drugs available (Acemoglu Linn, 2004; Dubois et al., 2015). However, the debate about potential reverse causality is still open (Cerda et al., 2007). In this paper, we analyze market size’s effect on innovation as measured by active clinical trials. The idea is to exploit product recalls, an innovative instrument, tested to be sharp, strong, and unexpected. The work analyses the relationship between US market size and innovation at the ATC-3 level through an original dataset and the two-step IV methodology proposed by Wooldridge et al. (2019). The results reveal a robust and significantly positive response of the number of active trials to market size. The first stage results display a negative and significant (Huber-White robust standard errors) impact of recalls and their lag on the log of sales at the market level. Such findings are enforced by analyzing abnormal values, which display the strong negative impact of recalls on sales. As measured by the impact of log sales on innovation, the second stage's outcomes reveal a robust and significantly positive response of active trials to market size. According to our estimates, an increase of 10% in market size leads to an increase of almost 6.3 % of active clinical trials. The effect of control variables (i.e., the share of generics, scientific production) aligns with theory.
Profit Shifting and Equilibrium Principles of International Taxation (H2, F1)
We study the choice between source-based and destination-based corporate taxes in a two-country model, allowing multinational firms to use transfer pricing to allocate profits across tax jurisdictions. We show that source-based taxation is a Nash equilibrium for tax revenue maximizing jurisdictions if domestic and foreign firms generate large revenues. We also show that destination-based taxes are a Nash equilibrium when firms generate low revenues, which implies the presence of multiple equilibria. Both the source and the destination principle coexist in equilibrium when domestic and foreign corporate revenues are intermediate. However, the source principle always tax-dominates the destination principle.
Progressing towards Efficiency: The Role for Labor Tax Progression in Privatizing Social Security (E2, H3)
We show that labor tax progression can effectively substitute for the insurance implicit in redistributive social security, challenging the existing view in the literature that linking pensions to individual incomes wages reduces distortions associated with social security, but severely reduces welfare due to removing insurance. Our study shows that privatizing social security can deliver aggregate welfare gains if alternative channels of providing insurance are implemented.
We develop a stylized theoretical model. The agents participate in fully redistributive social security and pay a progressive labor income tax. In this setup, both the pension benefits and labor taxation provide insurance against income uncertainty. Then, we introduce a pension benefit proportional to individual contributions of each agent. In this setup, income shocks from the working period carry over to retirement, and the only source of redistribution is labor tax progressivity. We replace redistributive social security, where benefits partially pool between idiosyncratic income shocks with an arrangement where the individual pension benefit depends solely on individual contributions. We complement this change with an increase in redistribution through labor tax progressivity in during the working period. We show that there exist changes in labor income taxes accompanying such social security reform, which are fiscally neutral and at the same time raise welfare.
We take the intuitions derived from this stylized setup to a calibrated general equilibrium setup, replicating the features of the US economy. We characterize the conditions under which disincentives from redistributive social security may be reduced without loss of welfare. We compensate insurance loss of insurance from privatizing social security through greater progression in the instantaneous labor taxation. We find that for plausible calibrations of Frisch elasticity, privatizing social security coupled with labor tax progression may deliver aggregate welfare gains.
Promoting Student Diversity in the European Higher Education Area: Lessons Learned from a Good Practice in Germany (I2, H5)
The European Higher Education Area (EHEA) originates in the 1999 Bologna Declaration signed by education ministers from 29 European countries. Meanwhile, the supra-national network encompasses 49 member countries. Consistent with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, the EHEA now gives strategic priority to the social dimension of higher education. Specifically, policies of social inclusion and campus diversity are of great interest. Understanding which mechanisms lead to wider participation and success in higher education is essential for the optimal design and effectiveness of such policies. The purpose of our research is to add to the understanding of widening participation in the EHEA.
Inspired by evidence in Germany for a growing success of historically underrepresented groups in higher education, we contribute a country-specific study and provide novel insights on diverse communities of learners at universities.
Our empirical study shows that a non-traditional educational practice of state provided upper secondary schooling that prepares for fully fledged access to university contributes to alleviating remaining disadvantages in the achievements of minorities. Striving to promote equal educational opportunities, associated full-time public schools substitute for the standard pre-university graduation track offered by traditional high-track schools. This paper examines the capability of the non-traditional, specialized, high track to establish an important entry channel to higher education. Using a representative survey of first year university students in Germany, we reveal supportive evidence that the specialized high track contributes a good educational practice to promote equal opportunities and student diversity in higher education. Specifically, second-generation immigrants are ceteris paribus 14 percentage points more likely to benefit from the good practice. Likewise, students from less educated family backgrounds are between 7 and 8 percentage points more likely to enter university using the entry channel enabled by the specialized schools. Students from academic households, however, are generally drawn to the traditional route to university. These findings allow to draw policy implications for purposeful action to put forward one of the EHEA’s major goals.
We conclude that keeping young adults in compulsory education sufficiently long and, at the same time, encouraging them to upgrade school tracks off the standard trail creates social innovation that helps to put forward the goal of social inclusion in the EHEA. The good practice examined in this paper might, therefore, be considered for a rollout experiment across other EHEA countries.
Public Sector Balance Sheet Strength and the Macro Economy (H6, H5)
This paper introduces concepts of public sector balance sheet (PSBS) strength, taking into account different aspects of what governments own in addition to what they owe. It develops measures of PSBS strength and investigates their macroeconomic implications. Empirical estimations show that in their pricing of sovereign bonds, financial markets account for government assets and net worth in addition to their liabilities. Furthermore, economies with stronger public sector balance sheets experience shallower recessions and recover faster in the aftermath of economic downturns. This faster return to growth can be explained by the greater space for countercyclical fiscal policy in countries with stronger balance sheets.
Public Support and Enterprise Performance: Evidence from Firm-Level Data in Ethiopia (M2, J0)
The purpose of this study is to evaluate the impact of public contract to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) on their performance. We use a rich firm-level dataset from the World Bank Enterprise Surveys and apply quasi-experimental approaches (endogenous treatment effect and propensity scores weighted difference-in-difference) to test the effect of public contract awards on SMEs sales and employment growth. Our results indicate that public contracts enhance SMEs sales and employment. The results highlight the positive role of public contracts as a promotion strategy to improve firm performance and address the unemployment. Further, our results have implications for government supports to businesses in the era of COVID-19 crisis that affected businesses with demand shock. We conclude by providing policymakers advice to diagnose the challenges that firms face in low-income countries and craft a more targeted support policy to address the unemployment and firms’ growth issues in developing countries like Ethiopia.
Pulp Friction: Long-Term Contracts as Quantity Insurance (L2, D8)
In decentralized markets for homogeneous goods, firms often trade using long-term contracts even though spot trade is more flexible to changing market conditions. We argue that long-term contracts are valuable in decentralized markets with frictions because they provide informal quantity insurance from the risk of being matched with low value trading partners -- buyers and sellers become endogenously risk averse with respect to quantity. Using proprietary invoice and production data from a large seller, we estimate a model of long-term contracts and spot trade in the pulp and paper industry to size the value of long-term contracts and the costs of inflexibility. We find that eliminating long-term contracts would decrease median surplus by 70%, while absent any trading frictions it would increase it by 139%.
Quantile Connectedness of the U.S. Interbank Liquidity Risk Network: a Bayesian Nuclear Norm Estimation Approach (G2, C1)
Understanding the connectedness of financial networks is central to the study of shocks transmission and systemic risk.
Many studies investigate the connectedness of various financial networks, focusing on financial assets connectedness among financial institutions, at the conditional mean.
In contrast, we study the quantile-dependent U.S. interbank liquidity risk network based on a non-publicly available supervisory dataset.
Both methodological and empirical contributions are new to the literature.
We first propose a new Bayesian nuclear norm estimation method that automatically estimates the quantile connectedness of the network.
We employ a common factor structure to deal with unobserved heterogeneity that may exhibit endogeneity within the network.
Together with a quantile vector autoregressive model with common factors, we then apply the proposed Bayesian method to the supervisory dataset to study the quantile-dependent liquidity risk network among large U.S. bank holding companies between April 2017 and December 2020.
We find that the liquidity risk network varies across quantiles and has changed substantially during the COVID-19 pandemic relative to the pre-pandemic period.
The estimated quantile liquidity network connectedness measures could be useful for bank supervision and financial stability monitoring by providing leading indicators of the system-wide liquidity risk connectedness not only at the median but also at the tails, as well as identifying systemically important banks and vulnerable banks in the liquidity risk transmission of the U.S. banking system.
Quantitative Forward Guidance through Interest Rate Projections (E5, G1)
We assess the effectiveness of quantitative forward guidance through interest rate projections along four key dimensions: (i) predictability, (ii) credibility, (iii) consistency and (iv) non-redundancy. Based on data for the Reserve Bank of New Zealand, the Norges Bank, the Swedish Riksbank and the Federal Reserve we find that the interest rate projections released by these four central banks are predictable and credible. Market expectations of the future path of interest rates anticipate changes in the central bank projection path and adjust to path surprises. The adjustment is, however, not one to one and decreases with the projection horizon. Moreover, high uncertainty around the projection path reduces the impact of path surprises. We also find the interest rate projections to be consistent with the macro projections that are released by the four central banks in parallel as these projections are empirically linked by a stabilising Taylor rule. Finally, interest rate projections are not redundant as they impact market expectations also when controlling for the effects of macro projections.
Rainy Day Liquidity (G1, G2)
Insurance firms are a key player in the corporate bond market. In this study, we consider the role of life insurers as "rainy day" liquidity providers who improve liquidity in stressful conditions due to persistent activity of buy-and-hold investing for long-term horizon. To this end, we present evidence that insurers' corporate bond purchases improve bond liquidity during the financial crisis and among downgraded bonds facing selling pressure. Life insurers are net purchasers of downgraded bonds within investment grades. Downgraded bonds that life insurers purchase in larger amounts are significantly better priced.
Raising the Inflation Target: What Are the Effective Gains in Policy Room? (E4, E3)
The return of the zero lower bound on interest rates poses a serious challenge for central banks because it leaves them without their main instrument. This situation is prompting policymakers to consider raising their inflation target to regain policy room. We show that the gains generated by this strategy are not one-to-one: Because a higher inflation target leads to a steeper Phillips curve, to get, for instance, 2 percentage points of extra room, policymakers need to raise their inflation target from 2\% to 5\%. Moreover, taking this mechanism into consideration raises the optimal inflation target by 1 pp.
Re-estimating Potential GDP: New Evidence on Output Hysteresis (E3, E4)
We propose a simple structural method to estimate potential (or flexible-price) output. Our baseline method is derived from a New Keynesian model with wage rigidities, yet it is consistent with a wide range of assumptions on technology, preferences, policy rules and expectation formation. Our approach has two main advantages over existing methods. First, it provides an unbiased estimate of potential GDP that is not subject to the Lucas Critique. Second, unlike other model-based approaches, our method does not require prior knowledge of all deep parameters and it does not resort to Bayesian estimation or calibration of the underlying model. Hence, our estimates are consistent with a large set of possible parametrizations. We compute potential GDP for the US and find that the output gap implied by our method is highly correlated with the one computed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a widely used estimate. However, there is a stark difference between the two series during and after the Great Recession. We also use our potential GDP estimates to contribute to the debate on the effects of demand shocks on aggregate supply. We show evidence supporting hysteresis hypotheses claiming that demand shocks can affect potential GDP
Reading between the Lines − Using Text Analysis to Estimate the Loss Function of the ECB (E5, E3)
We apply textual analysis to extract the tone (sentiment) from the introductory statements to the ECB’s press conferences regarding economic outlook. By combining this information with Eurosystem/ECB staff macroeconomic projections, we are able to directly estimate the Governing Council’s loss function. Our analysis suggests that prior to the new monetary policy strategy announced in July 2021, the de facto inflation aim of the ECB may have been considerably below 2%. We also find evidence that the loss function has been asymmetric, which would mean that the ECB has been more averse to inflation above 2% than below 2%. The ECB’s new definition of price stability implies a symmetric loss function with a bliss point at 2.0%. Hence our results indicate that the new strategy will bring about a clear change in the Governing Council’s policy preferences.
Reading Between the Lines: Quantitative Text Analysis of Banking Crises (G2, C4)
This paper develops five indicators based on a large corpus of economic news articles to forecast financial crises. The methodological approaches feature the identification of key topics within a large volume of texts, as well as the measurement of similarity between texts. A Banking Crisis Lexicon Index and Sentiment Index are developed through analysing a vast amount of economic articles to detect the evolution of banking sector discourse. Findings from Granger causality highlight leading indicators status and receiver operating characteristics suggest robust forecasting performance strength of the Banking Crisis Lexicon Index, globally and for developed economies up to two years preceding a crisis. While the aggregated Sentiment Index constitutes a coincidental indicator, for developed economies it is a short-term leading indicator. A combined lexicon and sentiment index exhibit solid forecasting performance. Statistical models Wordscores and Wordfish are introduced to study banking crises and underscore crisis classification strength. A hand-coding approach is used to verify the veracity of the indices and provides credence to the vital contribution of published deliberations in understanding and detecting banking sector frailties. In reading between the lines, this paper contributes to the literature on quantitative text analyses in constructing text-based latent banking crisis indicators.
Redistribution of Return Inequality (H3, E6)
Wealthier households obtain higher returns on their investments than poorer ones. How should the tax system account for this return inequality? I study capital taxation in an economy in which return rates correlate with ability types and wealth, giving rise to type and scale dependence. Whereas an increase in type dependence ceteris paribus raises optimal capital taxes, more scale dependence provides a rationale for lower taxes, making the policy implications of return inequality non-trivial. The intuition is that, aside from amplifying capital inequality, scale dependence generates an inequality multiplier effect between wealth and its pre-tax return rate. This effect scales up standard elasticity measures that determine the responsiveness of capital to taxes. In a financial market microfoundation, in addition to type and scale dependence, I identify general equilibrium effects that call for more redistribution relative to the partial equilibrium. Finally, I provide macro and micro estimates of the novel sufficient statistics and demonstrate their quantitative importance for capital taxation.
Reinforcement Learning for Household Finance: Designing Optimal Policy for Mortgage Market (G5, C6)
We apply reinforcement learning (RL) techniques from machine learning (ML) to improve efficiency of residential mortgage market in a dynamic setting which consists of three agents: the borrower (household), lender (financial institution that loans the money) and servicer (intermediary that sends mortgage statements). Our objective is to understand intertemporal choice of the borrower on the one hand and pricing, investment and portfolio allocation, transaction costs, tax consequences of the issuer/lender on the other. To attain this objective, we optimize the hedging of contingent claims (cashflow from different plausible paths that a loan take) by the servicer. By implementing the optimal policy, the servicer can preempt moral hazard from the borrower's behavior and increase the mortgage market efficiency. Our approach differs from the conventional (adhoc) approach which depends on the qualitative legal and industry expert judgement. RL is a model-agnostic methodology of solving dynamic optimization problems, adding action space on top of state space used in classical approaches.
Relational Contracts in Frictional Markets with Rematching (C7, L1)
How do market opportunities affect the value and dynamics of long-term relationships? This paper studies a matching market in which matched principals and agents interact via relational contracts, and unmatched principals and agents can randomly and anonymously rematch with each other. Market characteristics like search frictions and market thickness affect the probability of matching a new partner and forming a new relationship. I show that a high rematching probability leads to non-stationary and less productive relationships, while a low rematching probability leads to stationary and productive relationships. Welfare is non-monotonic in the rematching probability, as a lower rematching probability facilitates incentive provision but hinders relationship formation.
Relationship between Students’ and Families Growth Mindset with Students’ Academic Performance in Math: The Case of the Dominican Republic (I2, I3)
Recent academic literature on education, psychology, and education of economics has widely documented a strong significant relationship between growth mindset - the belief that intelligence is not fixed and can be developed - and students’ academic achievement, particularly when these two variables are controlled by students’ socioeconomic background. Current findings in the Latin America region suggest that student growth mindset can temper the effects of poverty on academic achievement, but our best knowledge no study has considered the interplay between students’ and their families’ growth mindset on academic achievement. We use a novel database of 9th graders students and their families in the Dominican Republic (N=110,000). Preliminary results show that families’ growth mindset strongly predicts students’ growth mindset, and also their math academic achievement. Multilevel regression analysis depicts differences in math scores ranging from 0.1 to 0.4 standard deviations. These findings suggest that students’ mindset are highly influenced by families’ mindset and may be a mechanism to elicit explicit academic behaviors, especially in under-privileged students’ and families
Reluctant Savers and Mortgage Subsidies (E7, E6)
The Mortgage Interest Deduction (MID) ranks among the largest tax expenditures in the US tax code. Despite the many proposals aiming to revise the MID, the ultimate effects of modifying it are still ambiguous and controversial. One argument against this policy points to its regressivity, as it mostly benefits wealthy homeowners. On the other hand, the MID could alleviate self-control problems by promoting savings in an illiquid asset. This paper focuses on this interaction between progressivity and self-control, by studying the effects of eliminating the status-quo MID within a heterogeneous agents model with incomplete markets and Gul-Pesendorfer preferences. Ignoring self-control issues can lead to underestimating the average welfare gains associated with the MID repeal. Crucially, MID tax savings constitute a liquid form of income which exacerbates self-control costs of the losers from the policy reform.
Resource Allocation in Post-Conflict Power Sharing Arrangements – Evidence from Lebanon (H1, L3)
Post-conflict power-sharing arrangements not only allocate political power but also economic re-sources among powerful elites. This article investigates the mechanisms of rent allocation of a major source of such resources: Public procurement of large infrastructure projects. We analyze a new da-taset of all infrastructure procurement contracts awarded between 2008 and 2018 by Lebanon’s Council of Development and Reconstruction (CDR), the major state institution to implement large infrastructure projects after the country’s civil war (1975-1990). We qualify the extent to which polit-ically connected firms capture larger contract values by differentiating the “quality” of their connec-tions. We find that connected firms capture larger project values, however, only those firms that are connected directly to the board of CDR and their political protégés, rather than the wider set of pow-erful political elites. We argue that the arrangements to share economic resources are based on collu-sive networks, upheld by norms of power-sharing behavior.
Retirement, Housing Mobility, Downsizing and Neighbourhood Quality-A Causal Investigation (J1, R2)
This paper provides the first causal evidence on the impact of retirement on housing choices. Our empirical strategy exploits the discontinuity in the eligibility ages for state pension as an instrument for the endogenous retirement decision and controls for time-invariant individual characteristics. The results show that retirement leads to a statistically significant and sizable increase in the probability of making a residential move or the likelihood of becoming outright homeowners. We also find that individuals downsize both physically and financially and tend to move to better neighbourhoods or closer to the coast upon retirement. We additionally discover that some housing adjustments take place up to 6 years before retirement. Moreover, our results reveal significant heterogeneity in the retirement impact by gender, marital status, education, housing tenue, income and wealth. Within coupled households, housing mobility choices are primarily influenced by the wife’s retirement while housing downsizing decisions are only affected by the husband’s retirement. The results suggest that failing to address the endogeneity of retirement often under-states the retirement impact on such housing arrangements. From a policy perspective, our findings suggest that policies to increase retirement ages would also postpone the retirement attributable housing adjustments among older people. The evidence of the substantial housing mobility and downsizing around retirement may be useful input to housing or fiscal policies as it demonstrates that the unleashing of accumulated housing equity occurs well before some major life course events identified in the current literature.
Retiring from Unemployment: The Role of Personal Finances (I3, J6)
Happiness studies find that unemployed individuals’ life satisfaction (LS) increases after they retire, and use social identity to explain the positive effects of retirement. The explanation is widely accepted in academia.
This paper, however, suggests that LS increases are due to financial situation changes. As in Hetschko, Knabe, and Schöb (2014), this paper uses a difference-in-differences (DiD) estimation to compare the retirement transition of employed and unemployed individuals based on the German Socio-Economic Panel (SOEP). The innovation of this paper is to combine the DiD with a matching approach based on entropy balancing. Moreover, in the matching process, two procedures are utilized for control variable selection: manual selection and automated selection based on the state-of-the-art machining learning methods Lasso.
Using the above empirical strategy, this paper first shows that for the employed, the retirement transition substantially decreases income. By contrast, the unemployed experience an increase in income after retirement. The transition from unemployment is associated with a greater LS increase. This paper then conducts a heterogeneity analysis, which demonstrate that the LS increase is largely concentrated on those whose financial status is better.
This paper makes three contributions. First, to the authors’ knowledge, this paper is the first to suggest that the LS increase during retirement from unemployment is due to financial improvement. Second, novel empirical methods, including entropy balancing matching and Lasso feature selection, are utilized. Third, this paper also contributes to the literature on unemployment and happiness.
Explaining why LS increases during retirement from unemployment is important for policy recommendations. Nonmaterial-based explanations suggest that finding a job is the most important consideration in fighting against unemployment, regardless of job quality or wage. Material-based explanations, by contrast, emphasize a decent living standard. This suggestion poses more challenges to policy makers.
Reward, Punishment and Children’s Cooperation Preference (C7, J1)