Department of Economics

Research in progress seminars

Economics research in progress seminars take place each Wednesday during term time at 4pm-5.30pm. Please find a list of seminars for the current term below. The location of the seminar may change over the course of the term so please check this site for updates. Click on the seminar title for more information about each seminar and the speaker(s).

Upcoming seminars

Cereals, Appropriability and Hierarchy

Wednesday 13 December 16:00 until 17:30
TBC
Speaker: Luigi Pascali
Part of the series: Economics Research in Progress Seminars

Abstract

Conventional theory holds that hierarchies and states emerged following the Neolithic transition to agriculture as a result of increased land productivity, and that differences in land productivity explain differences in hierarchies between regions. We challenge this theory and propose that social hierarchy emerged where the elite were able to appropriate crops from farmers. In particular, we argue that cereals are easier to appropriate than most other foodstuffs. Therefore, regional variations in the suitability of land for the cultivation of different crop types can account for differences in the formation of hierarchies and states. Our empirical investigation supports such a causal effect of the cultivation of cereals on hierarchy, without finding a similar effect for land productivity.

Bio

www.upf.edu/web/luigi-pascali

Back to events list


By: Jessica Kistnasamy
Last updated: Wednesday, 13 September 2017

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Past seminars

Autumn term 2016
28th September
Corrective tax design with heterogeneous externalities and differentiated products
Rachel Griffith

Abstract

The potential for taxes to improve welfare when consumption generates externalities motivates many government interventions, including those in the alcohol market, and more recently in the soda market. Pigou (1920) taxes that price price to equal the marginal external cost of each unit consumed can achieve the first best. Diamond (1973) showed that when the marginal externality varies across consumers linear corrective taxes can only achieve the second best outcome. In reality this is often the case. Another important feature of the markets for alcohol and soda is that they consist of lots of differentiated products. This offers the opportunity to design a tax system that can better target externality-generating consumption than existing system, and can come close to achieving the first best (at least in the UK alcohol market). Intuitively, if some products are disproportionately consumed by people whose consumption has a high marginal external cost, then a tax system that sets a higher rate on these products may do better at targeting the externality, while minimising the reduction in consumer surplus, relative to a common tax rate across products.
In this paper we combine results from Diamond (1973) and Sandmo (1975) to allow for both heterogeneous consumption externalities and differentiated product markets (McFadden (1981)). We use this framework to derive formulae for tax rates that maximise the sum of consumer surplus minus the external costs of consumption. We show that, in general, the second-best tax policy is not a single rate applied to the externality-generating characteristic (e.g. ethanol in the alcohol market), but tax rates that vary across products. These tax rates depend on the correlation between consumers' demands for differentiated products and their marginal externality. We logitudinal data to infer the marginal externality of consumption at counterfactual prices using the history of past purchases. We estimate a discrete choice demand model with sufficient preference heterogeneity to capture the correlation between the individual product demands and the derived demand for the externality generating characteristic. We apply the model to the UK market for alcohol. The UK tax system reduces welfare relative to a flat-rate commodity tax that is common across products; allowing the planner to set different tax rates across products more than doubles the welfare gain of the flat-rate tax, and reduces by half the difference between the UK system and the first best.

Bio


https://www.ifs.org.uk/people/profile/37

3rd October
Back to the Past: Is Growth Reverting to Pre-Industrial Levels?
Jakob Madsen

Abstract

In his influential book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Gordon (2016) forwards the thesis that the US and, presumably, the rest of the West is entering a low growth regime and that the high growth experienced over the last one and a half centuries has been a one-time-only event. However, the growth predictions for the 21st century have been complicated by our incomplete knowledge of the factors that have driven growth since 1800 and, therefore, which growth drivers have played out their roles. This paper constructs an extensive macroeconomic panel data set for 21 OECD countries spanning 216 years and estimates the approximate determinants of growth since 1800. The regression results are used to calibrate the approximate determinants of growth since 1800 and a likely growth scenario for the 21st century.

Bio

http://monash.edu/research/explore/en/persons/jakob-madsen%281f709fe6-2392-49b1-b086-2ded3150ebb7%29.html

12th October
Land Mines and Spatial Development
Elias Papaioannou

Abstract

According to UN reports land mines are uniquely savage in the history of modern warfare not only because of their appalling individual impact but also their social and economic destruction. As minefields often remain on the ground long after the cessation of hostilities they have an enduring legacy. Despite their importance for understanding post-conflict recovery and the billions of dollars spent on clearance, little research exists on the consequences of demining. This study focuses on Mozambique which was declared land mine free in the fall of 2015; 23 years after the end of the civil war that left the country contaminated with hundreds of thousands of explosive remnants of war across its territory. After documenting the spatial distribution of land mines and the timing of their removal across 1200 Mozambican districts, we exploit time variation in demining that appears to be largely non-coordinated, to assess its impact on local economic activity. The difference-in-difference specifications reveal significant positive impacts. We then apply a "market access" approach to examine the general equilibrium consequences of these interventions. We find strong positive aggregate effects of demining via the transportation network. Finally, to improve on identification we show that the market access — development nexus is also present for districts that were not directly affected by the placement of landmines. Our results highlight the importance of coordination among development actors in presence of strong spatial externalities.

Bio

https://sites.google.com/site/papaioannouelias/

19th October 
Child Height and Intergenerational Transmission of Health: Evidence from Ethnic Indians in England
Alessandro Tarozzi

Abstract

A large literature documents a widespread prevalence of small stature among Indian children as well as adults. We show that a height gap relative to a richer population such as whites in England also exists, although substantially reduced, among adult immigrants of Indian ethnicity in England. This is despite positive height selection into migration, demonstrated by ethnic Indian adults in England being on average 6-7 centimetres taller than in India. However, the difference between natives and ethnic Indians in England disappears among their younger sons and daughters, although it re-appears among adolescents. We estimate that, conditional on age, gender and parental height, ethnic Indian children of age 2 to 4 in England are 6 to 8% taller than in India. Such degree of catch up in one generation is remarkable, also because in England children of ethnic Indians have much smaller birthweight than whites, by about 0.4 kilograms on average.

Bio

http://84.89.132.1/~tarozzi/

26th October
Redistribution of Economic Resources due to Conflict: The Maoist Uprising in Nepal
Anirban Mitra

Abstract

Nepal has seen a large reduction in poverty over the period 1995-2010. This period roughly coincides with the Maoist uprising which resulted in the abolition of the monarchy in 2008. So was the post-conflict provision of economic resources to districts related to their involvement in promoting the Maoist cause? We tackle this question combining theory and empirics. Our model predicts that poorer districts are more likely to support the Maoists and in return they get promised economic gains conditional on the Maoists prevailing post-conflict. Combining data on conflict with consumption expenditure data from the Nepal Living Standards Survey and data on foreign aid, we test these predictions. Our panel data estimates and our cross-sectional analysis consistently find strong support for our hypotheses. These are confirmed by the IV analysis that we perform at the panel level.

Bio

https://sites.google.com/site/anirbanmitraecon/home

Paper

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Papers/Economics%202016-17?preview=NepalConflict.pdf

2nd November
Managing Trade: Evidence from China and the US
Kalina Manova (Oxford)

Abstract

We combine six micro-datasets to examine the relationship between firm management practices and trade performance in the world's two largest export economies, China and the US. We find consistently similar results across both countries. First, better managed firms are more active exporters. They are systematically more likely to export, sell more products to more destination countries, and earn higher export revenues and profits. Export behavior is strongly associated with management competence even after controlling for domestic activity and measured TFP. Second, better managed exporters have higher prices, higher quality, and lower quality-adjusted prices within narrow destination-product markets. They also source more imported inputs, a wider range of inputs, more expensive inputs, and more inputs from advanced economies. These patterns are consistent with a heterogeneous-firm model in which effective management improves firm performance by increasing both production efficiency and product quality. In particular, better managed firms use more sophisticated inputs and assembly technologies to more efficiently produce goods of higher quality. Poor management practices may thus hinder trade, growth and entrepreneurship in developing countries.

Bio

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~econ0451/index.html

Paper

http://users.ox.ac.uk/~econ0451/Management.pdf

9th November
Wolves in Sheep’s clothing: Is non-profit status used to signal quality?
Carol Propper (Imperial Business School & University of Bristol)

Abstract

Why do many firms in the healthcare sector adopt non-profit status? One argument is that non-profit status serves as a signal of quality when consumers are not well informed. A testable implication is that an increase in consumer information may lead to a reduction in the number of non-profits in a market. We test this idea empirically by exploiting an exogenous increase in consumer information in the US nursing home industry. We find that the information shock led to a reduction in the share of non-profit homes, driven by a combination of home closure and sector switching. The lowest quality non-profits were the most likely to exit. Our results have important implications for the effects of reforms to increase consumer provision in a number of public services.

Bio

http://www.imperial.ac.uk/people/c.propper

Paper

JPS Nonprofit as signal of Quality [PDF 1.34MB]

Spring term 2016
17 February
One Child Policy and Household Saving
Keyu Jin (London School of Economics)

Abstract

We investigate whether the ‘one-child policy’ has contributed to the rise in China’s household
saving rate and human capital in recent decades. In a life-cycle model with endogenous fertility, intergenerational
transfers and human capital accumulation, fertility restrictions lower expected support
coming from children—- inducing parents to raise saving and education investment in their offspring.
Quantitatively, the policy can account for 30% to 60% of the rise in aggregate saving. Using the birth
of twins under the policy as an empirical out-of sample check to the theory, we find that quantitative
estimates on saving and education decisions line up well with micro-data.

Bio

http://personal.lse.ac.uk/jink/

24 February
Can there be a market for cheap-talk information?: Some experimental evidence
Antonio Cabrales (UCL)

Abstract

We study experimentally a market for a horizontally differentiated good sold via a second price auction. Before the auctions, agents choose whether or not to acquire costly information about the good and then sell, or buy, cheap talk reports over the information acquired. In equilibrium information can be acquired, and reports are also sold, though they are noisy. In the laboratory we find that few reports are sold, mainly because the agents’ reports diverge from what the theory predicts. On the one hand, agents tell the truth when the theory predicts they should be uninformative, but they also sometimes lie when they have no benefit by doing so. This latter feature is novel and we show that it is related to agents’ social preferences.

Bio

Antonio Cabrales is Professor of Economics at University College London. He holds a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of California, San Diego He has worked in a wide range of topics: the economics of networks and mechanism design, learning and evolutionary games, experimental economics, and industrial organization. He is associate editor at the Journal of Economic Theory, and formerly an editor of the Berkeley Electronic Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy and Investigaciones Económicas, as well as associate editor of the Journal of the European Economic Association and SERIEs. He has published at the American Economic Review, Journal of Political Economy, the Review of Economic Studies, Scientific Reports, PLoS One, Physical Review Letters and other scholarly journals. More information on his research and copies of his papers can be found at: http://www.ucl.ac.uk/~uctpcab/.

2 March
Teachers’ Pay for Performance in the Long-Run: The Dynamic Pattern of Treatment Effects on Students’ Educational and Labour Market Outcomes in Adulthood
Victor Lavy (Warwick)

Abstract

In this paper I examine the dynamic pattern of the effects of high-school teachers’ pay for performance experiment on long term outcomes, including university schooling, employment and earnings until age 30. On the results show that university schooling increased gradually and picked at age 30, with a 5 percent increase in enrolment and 0.25 gain in years of university schooling. The effect on earnings is negative at first as treated students have higher schooling rate and lower employment rate. However after school completion the treatment effect on earnings is positive, reaching a 4% increase at age 28-30. These gains are largely mediated by the overall improvements in high school outcomes caused by the teachers’ intervention. There are no effects observed on marriage and fertility.

Bio

Victor Lavy CV

Paper

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Papers/Economics%202015-16

9 March
The Optimal Timing of Unemployment Benefits: Theory and Evidence from Sweden
Johannes Spinnewijn (LSE)

Abstract

This paper provides a simple, yet robust framework to evaluate the time profile of benefits paid during an unemployment spell. We derive sufficient-statistics formulae capturing the marginal insurance value and incentive costs of unemployment benefits paid at different times during a spell. Our approach allows to revisit separate arguments for inclining or declining profiles put forward in the theoretical literature and to identify welfare-improving changes in the benefit profile that account for all relevant arguments jointly. For the empirical implementation, we use administrative data on unemployment, linked to data on consumption, income and wealth in Sweden. First, we exploit duration-dependent kinks in the replacement rate and find that, if anything, the moral hazard cost of benefits is larger when paid earlier in the spell. Second, we find that the drop in consumption affecting the insurance value of benefits is large from the start of the spell, but further increases throughout the spell. In trading off insurance and incentives, our analysis suggest that the flat benefit profile in Sweden has been too generous overall. However, both from the insurance and the incentives side, we find no evidence to support the recent introduction of a declining tilt in the profile.

Bio

Johannes Spinnewijn

Paper

The Optimal Timing of Unemployment Benefits: Theory and Evidence from Sweden

16 March
Insiders and Outsiders: Local Ethnic Politics and Public Good Provision" (with Kaivan Munshi).
Mark Rosenzweig (Yale)

Abstract

A large and growing literature has taken the position that ethnic politics plays a major role in both limiting the supply of public goods and distorting their allocation in many developing countries. We examine the role of local ethnic politics in supplying public goods within a framework that incorporates two aspects of ethnic groups: an inclusionary aspect associated with internal cooperation and an exclusionary aspect associated with the disregard for others. The inclusionary aspect of ethnic politics results in the selection of more competent political representatives who exert more effort, resulting in an increased supply of public goods that are non-excludable at the local level. The exclusionary aspect of ethnic politics results in the capture of targetable public resources by insiders; i.e. the representative's own group, at the expense of outsiders. Using newly available Indian data, covering all the major states over three election terms at the most local (ward) level, we provide empirical evidence that is consistent with both aspects of ethnic politics, with positive and negative consequences, respectively, for public good provision. Counterfactual simulations using structural estimates of the model quantify the impact of alternative policies that, based on our theory and the empirical results, would be expected to increase the supply of public goods when ethnic politics is salient.

Bio

Mark R. Rosenzweig is the Frank Altschul Professor of International Economics and Director of the Economic Growth Center at Yale. Before that he served as the Director of the Center for International Devlopment at Harvard University. He is a development economist who pioneered in the use of microeconometric methods for studying the causes and consequences of economic development and the role of human capital. Rosenzweig was Co-Editor of the Handbook of Family and Population Economics and of the newest Handbook of Development Economics. Rosenzweig also recently served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Development Economics. He is a Fellow of the Econometric Society, a Fellow of the Society of Labor Economists, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a Yangtze River Scholar. Rosenzweig earned B.A., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from Columbia University.

6 April
Adverse Selection On Maturity: Evidence From On-Line Consumer - ANDREW HERTZBERG, ANDRES LIBERMAN AND DANIEL PARAVISINI
Daniel Paravisini (LSE)

Abstract

We provide evidence of adverse selection on maturity in consumer credit. Our estimation compares two groups of observationally equivalent borrowers that took identical 36-month loans, but where only one of the groups is selected on maturity: borrowers chose the 36-month loan when a 60-month maturity option was also available. Borrowers who self-select into short maturity loans default less a year after origination, and have future credit ratings that are higher and less volatile. Consistent with the insurance role of long term credit, the findings suggest borrowers self-select on their exposure to shocks to their future ability to repay.

Bio

Daniel Paravisini

Paper

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Papers/Economics%202015-16

13 April
Learning More With Every Year: School Year Productivity and International Learning Divergence
Abhijeet Singh (Oxford)

Abstract

Can differences in the productivity of primary schooling explain international differences in human capital? I use a unique child-level panel dataset from Ethiopia, India, Peru and Vietnam to document that, although cross-country gaps in test scores are evident already at preschool ages, they grow substantially in the first years of schooling. Value-added and RD/IV estimates indicate sizable cross-country differences in school-year productivity. Equalizing productivity to Vietnamese levels, leaving other inputs including learning at 5 years unchanged, closes the entire achievement gapbetween Vietnam and Peru, and 70% of the gap between Vietnam and India, at 8 years of age.

Bio

Abhijeet Singh

Paper

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Papers/Economics%202015-16

20 April
Compliance Behavior in Networks: Evidence from a Field Experiment
Friederike Mengel (Department of Economics, University of Essex)

Abstract

This paper studies the spread of compliance behavior in neighborhood networks involving over 500,000 households in Austria. We exploit random variation from a field experiment which varied the content of mailings sent to potential evaders of TV license fees. Our data reveal a strong treatment spillover: 'untreated' households, who were not part of the experimental sample, are more likely to switch from evasion to compliance in response to the mailings received by their network neighbors. We analyze the spillover within a model of communication in networks based on DeGroot (1974). Consistent with the model, we find that (i) the spillover increases with the treated households' eigenvector centrality and that (ii) local concentration of equally treated households produces a lower spillover. These findings carry important implications for enforcement policies.

Bio

Friederike Mengel

Paper

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Papers/Economics%202015-16

27 April
Bride Price and Female Education
Alessandra Voena (U of Chicago/Yale)

Abstract

Traditional cultural practices can play an important role in development, but can also inspire condemnation. The custom of bride price, prevalent throughout sub-Saharan Africa and in parts of Asia as a payment of the groom to the family of the bride, is one example. In this paper, we show a surprising economic consequence of this practice. We revisit one of the best studied historical development projects, the INPRES school construction program in Indonesia, and show that previously found small effects on female enrolment mask heterogeneity by bride price tradition. Ethnic groups that traditionally engage in bride price payments at marriage increased female enrolment in response to the program. Within these ethnic groups, higher female education at marriage is associated with a higher bride price payment received, providing a greater incentive for parents to invest in girls’ education and take advantage of the increased supply of schools. For those girls belonging to ethnic groups that do not practice bride price, we see no increase in education following school construction. We replicate these same findings in Zambia, where we exploit a similar school expansion program that took place in the early 2000s. While there may be significant downsides to a bride price tradition, our results suggest that any change to this cultural custom should likely be considered alongside additional policies to promote female education.

Bio

TBC

Paper

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1GQp599Vy9jp7YBatmL88PMMh67dqp8-lqgL4CyM_yf4/edit#gid=1430883177

4 May
Dust and Death: Evidence from the West African Harmattan - Achyuta Adhvaryu, Prashant Bharadwaj, James Fenske Anant Nyshadham, Richard Stanley
James Fenske (Oxford)

Abstract

Dust pollution in West Africa increases infant and child mortality. Employing differences in differences, we make three contributions. First, using data from 12 poor countries, we highlight the vulnerability of people with few resources, fragile health, and limited capacity to adopt avoidance behaviour. Second, we examine prenatal and post-natal parental investment responses, and show evidence consistent with compensating behaviours. However, despite these efforts, the health of surviving children is still adversely affected. Third, we investigate differential impacts over time and across countries. We find declining effects over time, implying in the absence of reductions in dust itself that societies are adapting in some way. Using national-level measures of macroeconomic conditions and public health resources, we find suggestive evidence that both economic development and public health improvements have contributed to this adaptation, with health improvements seemingly playing a stronger role. 

Bio

James Fenske

Paper

https://www.dropbox.com/home/Papers/Economics%202015-16

Autumn term 2015
28 September
The Role of Trade in Ending Poverty
Paul Brenton (World Bank)

Abstract

Trade is a key part of the strategy of the World Bank and other development agencies to eliminate extreme poverty. This seminar will discuss what we do, and what we do not know, about the linkages between trade and poverty and the analytical and research gaps that need to be filled if the commitment to end extreme poverty is to be achieved. Following on from a recent Joint World Bank-WTO report on The Role of Trade in Ending Poverty the seminar will discuss research issues around four key characteristics of the poor, which limit their ability to benefit from trade: rurality, informality, fragility and gender.

Bio

Paul Brenton is Lead Economist in the Africa Region of the World Bank and is co-editor of the recently released book De-Fragmenting Africa: Deepening Regional Trade Integration in Goods and Services. Paul joined the Bank in 2002, having been Senior Research Fellow and Head of the Trade Policy Unit at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels.

5 October
Religion, Division of Labor and Conflict: Evidence over Seven Centuries
Sascha Becker (Warwick)

Abstract

Anti-Semitism continues to be a widespread societal problem, rooted
deeply in history. Using novel city-level and county-level data from
Germany, we study the role of economic incentives in shaping the
co-existence of Jews, Catholics and Protestants. The ban on usury
practiced by Catholics gave Jews a specific advantage in the
money-lending sector. Following the Protestant Reformation in 1517,
German regions split between Catholics and Protestants. 

Protestant views on usury were less restrictive. Hence, while in Catholic areas,
complementarities between Catholics and Jews persisted, in Protestant
areas Jews lost their prerogative in the money-lending sector. We
document the change in the economic geography of Jewish activities, and
in the geography of Anti-Semitism.

Bio

TBA

12 October
title TBA
Speaker TBA

Abstract

TBA

Bio

TBA

19 October
title TBA
Michela Tincani (UCL)

Abstract

TBA

Bio

TBA

26 October
The Impact of Loan Modifications on Repayment, Bankruptcy, and Labor Supply: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment
Will Dobbie (Princeton)

Abstract

This paper describes a large randomized field experiment that offered distressed borrowers more than $50 million in debt forgiveness and over 27,500 additional months to repay their debts. A large non-profit credit counseling organization and eleven unsecured creditors offered ex-post loan modifications to a random subset of borrowers in 2005 and 2006. Merging information from the experiment to administrative tax and bankruptcy data, we find that borrowers offered a lower interest rate were more likely to repay their debts and less likely to file for bankruptcy in the five years following the experiment. For the most heavily indebted borrowers, lower interest rates also increased the probability of being employed. In contrast, there was little impact of a longer repayment period on repayment, bankruptcy, or employment

Bio

TBA

2 November
Management as a technology?
John Van Reenen (LSE/CEP)

Abstract

TBA

Bio

TBA

9 November
title TBA
Orazio Attanasio (UCL)

Abstract

Are some management practices akin to a technology that can explain company and national

productivity, or are do they simply reect alternative styles? We collect panel data on core

management practices in over 10,000 firms in 35 countries. We find large cross country differences, with the US having the highest size-weighted average management score. About one fifth of these cross-country management differences are due to stronger reallocation effects which rewards better managed firms with greater market share. We present a formal model of management and structurally estimate it on our panel data to recover parameters including the

depreciation rate and adjustment costs of managerial capital (which are both slightly larger

than for tangible capital). Our model also predicts (i) a positive effect of management on firm

performance; (ii) a positive effect of product market competition on average management quality and its covariance with firm size; and (iii) a rise (fall) in the level (dispersion) of management with firm age. These are not moments we use in the structural estimation and we find empirical support for these predictions in new data. Finally, building on our model we find that differences in management practices explain about one quarter of cross-country productivity differences.

 

Bio

TBA

16 November
Does degree class act as a signal of graduate ability?
Robin Naylor (Warwick)

Abstract

TBA

Bio

TBA

23 November
title TBA
Beata Javorcik (Oxford)

Abstract

TBA

Bio

TBA

30 November, 15:00pm-16:30pm
Family Size, Sibling Rivalry and Migration: evidence from Mexico
Mariapia Mendola(Università di Milano Bicocca)

Abstract

This paper examines the effects of the childhood family on offspring’s international migration. We use rich survey data from Mexico to estimate the impact of sibship size, birth order and sibling composition on teenagers’ and young adults’ migration outcomes. We find little evidence that high fertility drives migration. The positive correlation between sibship size and migration disappears when endogeneity of family size is addressed using biological fertility (miscarriages) and infertility shocks. Yet, the chances to migrate are not equally distributed across children within the family. Older siblings, especially firstborns, are more likely to migrate, while having more sisters than brothers may increase the chances of migration, especially among girls.

Location

CHICHESTER 3, Room 3R241,

7 December
The Economics of Lotto Design: Habits, Addicition, and Problem Gambling
Ian Walker (Lancaster)

Abstract

Lotto demand models in the economics literature typically estimate how sales respond to variations in the effective price (the cost of entry minus the expected winnings) and a small subset of it deals with the endogeneity of this price by instrumenting with the time variation in the value of the jackpot prize pool due to rollovers. We argue that rollovers do not make valid instruments because of their correlation with lagged sales and propose an alternative identification strategy which exploits two specific features of the UK lotto game (and many others). UK lotto sales are found to be responsive to the prize distribution beyond the impact of the mean (i.e. the effective price) and we develop the model to simulate a variety of design changes.

Summer term 2015
June 1st
The Life Cycle Effects of Academic and Vocational Education: Evidence from Two British Cohorts
Giorgio Brunello (padua)

Abstract

Several commentators have argued that vocational education provides a smoother school to work transition. In the long - run, however, these skills depreciate faster and individuals with a vocational education are less capable to adapt to technical
changes. Because of this, the short – term employment benefits trade off with expected long-term costs. Using longitudinal UK data, that allow us to follow individuals from age 23 to age 55, we investigate whether this view has empirical support
but find little evidence that a a trade off exists, both for employment and for wages. We distinguish between dominant and non-dominant vocational education to account for the different bundles of skills held by individuals, and find that those
with a more balanced bundle tend to have higher employment probabilities over the life cycle. When we compare two cohorts born twelve years apart, we find evidence of a relative improvement in employment and wages for the younger
cohort with higher academic education, and of a relative deterioration of both outcomes for those with lower academic skills.

Spring term 2015
28 January 
Age, cohort, and co-authorship 
Dan Hammermesh (Austin/RH)

Please note: This seminar will take place on Wednesday and is in Jubilee room 144 at 4pm.

Abstract

The previously documented trend toward more co- and multi-authored research in economics is partly due to different research styles of scholars in different birth cohorts (of different ages). Older scholars show greater variation in their research styles than younger ones, who use similar numbers of co-authors in each published paper; but there are no differences across cohorts in scholars’ willingness to work with different coauthors. There are only small differences in the impacts of age by gender. Using evidence on the changing productivity of top publishers, credit given for co-authored articles today should be less than previously; and the appropriate divisor for assigning credit approaches the number of authors. I offer advice to aging economists on aiding their junior coauthors.

23 February 
Urbanisation and development: building the monocentric city
Tony Venables (Oxford) 

Abstract

TBC

2 March 
The labour demand shock from hell: The protestant reformation and human capital investments
Jeremiah Dittmar (LSE) 

Abstract

TBC

9 March
Estimating marginal utilities using disaggregate expenditures 
Ethan Ligon (Berkley)

Abstract 

TBC

16 March 
The exporter wage premium when firms and workers are heterogeneous
Udo Kreickemeier (University of Tuebingen)

The seminar will exceptionally take place in Arts A071 from 16:00-17:30

Abstract 

We formulate a structural empirical model to estimate the distributional effects of international trade in a setting with heterogeneous populations of both workers and firms. Distributional effects are driven by the fact that in the open economy high-ability workers in demand by exporting firms with high productivity command a wage premium, and therefore in our model wage inequality is necessarily higher in the open economy than in autarky. We quantify the size of the exporter wage premium and the effect of trade on inequality using a matched employer-employee data set for Germany.

Bio 

Full Bio located here

23 March
Grade configuration, segregation and pupils' outcomes
Helena Holmlund (Uppsala/Stockholm) 

Abstract

This paper studies the effect of schools’ organization on pupil outcomes. Specifically, we study a reform that affected grade configuration in Swedish schools, which implied that pupils instead of moving from elementary to middle school in grade 7, attended the same school through grade 1 to 9. We show that this shift in grade configuration reduced the size of the affected pupils’ peer group, increased sorting, and improved GPA for disadvantaged pupils. We discuss several possible mechanisms for this result, such as class size and schools’ social environment.

30 March
Norms of Allocation within Nuclear and Extended-Family Households
Zaki Wahhaj (University of Kent)  

Abstract

In many parts of Africa, traditional household structures consisting of an extended family headed by a patriarch are giving way to other types of households -- e.g. nuclear families, female-headed households -- as a result of migration, urbanisation and population pressures on land. In this paper, we explore whether traditional norms which determine how resources are allocated within the household are affected by the evolution of household structures. We show that the allocation of resources, for production and consumption, are closer to being efficient in nuclear family households as compared to extended family households. The findings are consistent with the hypothesis that individuals belonging to the same nuclear family have stronger ties, enabling them to commit to more efficient contracts infeasible for those connected through an extended family relation.

Autumn term 2014
6 October
The effects of terrorism on birth outcomes in Spain
Climent Quintana-Domeque (Oxford)

Abstract

We study the effects of terrorism in Spain on birth outcomes, focusing on terrorism perpetrated by ETA (Euskadi ta Askatasuna or Basque Homeland and Freedom), combining information on the number of ETA casualties from The Victims of ETA Dataset with the individual birth records from the national registry of live births in Spain, elaborated by the Instituto Nacional de Estadística. We focus on live births conceived between January 1980 and February 2003 and find that in utero exposure to terrorism early in pregnancy (1st trimester), as measured by the number of ETA-bomb casualties, has detrimental effects on birth outcomes: in terms of average birth weight (lower), the prevalence of low birth weight (higher) and the fraction of normal babies (lower). Our results are robust to a battery of robustness checks (e.g., measuring exposure to terrorism using date of birth instead of estimated conception date). Crucially, and in support of our identification strategy, the number of ETA-bomb casualties after birth does not predict any of the birth outcomes under analysis, and virtually the same estimates are obtained when controlling for economic conditions (as captured by unemployment rates) in each of the trimester of pregnancy.

13 October
What happens when employers are free to discriminate? Evidence from the English Barclays premier fantasy football league
Arnaud Chevalier (RH/IZA, Bonn) 

Abstract

Research on employers’ hiring discrimination is limited by the unlawfulness of such activity. Consequently, researchers have focused on the intention to hire. Instead, we rely on a virtual labour market, the Fantasy Football Premier League, where employers can freely exercise their taste for racial discrimination in terms of hiring and firing. The setting allows us to eliminate co-worker, consumer-based and statistical discrimination as potential sources of discrimination, thus isolating the effect of taste-based discrimination. We find no evidence of racial discrimination, either in initial hiring or through the season, in a context where employers are fully aware of current and prospective workers’ productivity.

20 October
Airports and Economic Development in China
Steve Gibbons (LSE)

Abstract

This paper estimates the effect of new airports on the local economic performance of counties in China. To estimate the causal effect of airport supply, we implement a fuzzy regression discontinuity design based on China's 2006 airport plan. This plan dictated that new airports were to be located no closer than 200km road driving distance from existing airports. Comparing counties on either side of this 200km threshold, we find that an improvement in accessibility via air due to new airports leads to higher GDP per capita and employment. Additional empirical results suggest sectoral shifts towards services in treated counties.

27 October
Consumer search frictions on an internet platform
Gregory Joliviet (Bristol)

Abstract

We study consumers' search and purchase decisions on an Internet platform. Using a unique data set on all adverts posted and transactions made on a major French Internet platform (PriceMinister), we show evidence of substantial price dispersion between adverts for the same product. We also show that consumers do not necessarily choose the cheapest advert available and sometimes even choose an advert that is dominated in price and non-price characteristics (such as seller's reputation) by another available advert. To explain the transactions observed on the platform, we derive and estimate a sequential directed search model where consumers can observe all advert prices but have to pay a search cost to see the other advert characteristics. We allow for full heterogeneity in consumers' preferences and search costs. We derive tractable identification conditions for our model and estimate sets of parameters that can rationalize each transaction. Our model can predict a wide range of consumer search strategies and fits almost all transactions observed in our sample. We find empirical evidence of positive and substantially large search costs as well as consumer marginal willingness to pay for advert hedonic characteristics.

3 November
Seminar cancelled 
Apologies for any inconvenience
10 November
Growth volatility, institutions and FDI
Tim Besley (LSE)

Abstract

Countries with strong executive constraints have lower growth volatility but similar average growth to those with weak constraints. This paper argues that this may explain a strong reduced-form correlation between executive constraints and inflows of foreign investment. It uses a a novel dataset of Dutch sector-level investments between 1983 and 2010 to explore this issue. It formulates an economic model of investment and uses data on the mean and variance of productivity growth to explain the relationship between investment inflows and executive constraints. The model can account for the aggregate change in inflows when strong executive constraints are adopted in terms of the reduction in the volatility in productivity growth. The data and model together suggest a natural way of thinking about country-specific heterogeneity in investment inflows following the adoption of strong executive constraints

17 November
Contracting and the division of the gains from trade
Dr Swati Dingra (LSE)

Abstract

This paper examines the microstructure of import markets and the division of the gains from trade among consumers, importers and exporters. When exporters and importers transact through anonymous markets, double marginalization and business stealing among competing importers lead to lower profits. Trading parties can overcome these inefficiencies by investing in richer contractual arrangements such as bilateral contracts that eliminate double marginalization and joint ventures that internalize business stealing. Introducing these contractual choices into a trade model with heterogeneous exporters and importers, we show that trade liberalization increases the incentive to form joint ventures, thus raising the profits of exporters and importers at the expense of consumer welfare. We examine the implications of the model for prices, quantities and exporter-importer matches in Colombian import markets before and after the US-Colombia free trade agreement. US exporters that started to enjoy duty-free access were more likely to increase their average import price, decrease their quantity exported and reduce the number of import partners.

24 November
Title TBC
David Maddison (Birmingham)

Abstract

TBC

1 December
Title TBC
Douglas Gollin (Oxford)

Abstract

TBC

8 December
The agricultural roots of industrial development: forward linkages in reform era China
Samuel Marden (LSE).

Abstract

A classic literature argues that improvements in agricultural productivity result in higher non-agricultural output, particularly at low levels of development. The proposed mechanisms for these 'forward linkages' vary, but centre on either increases in the supply of factors, especially labour and capital, or demand externalities in product market. Regardless of the mechanism, the empirical evidence for substantial forward linkages is limited. In this paper, I show that in reform-era China there were substantial forward linkages. I exploit the fact that China's 1978-84 agricultural reforms were more beneficial to farmers with land suited to cash crops to provide plausibly exogenous variation in agricultural productivity. Then using a newly digitised panel of economic data for 561 counties, I trace the growth of agricultural and non-agricultural output over forty years. Higher agricultural output was associated with significantly faster subsequent growth in non-agricultural output. I estimate 15 and 25 year elasticities of 1.2 and 0.8. I am able to identify these linkages because China is subject to substantial geographic capital and labour market frictions. These frictions limit the equalisation of prices across space and keep local shocks local. I use the predictions of a simple two sector model, which nests the possibility of linkages through demand externalities and the supply of capital or labour, to provide evidence that the linkages identified were primarily due to higher agricultural surpluses increasing the supply of capital to non-state firms.

Summer term 2014
DateSpeakerTitle
12 May Hunt Alcott (NYU) Dutch Disease or Agglomeration? The Local Economic Effects of Natural Resource Booms in Modern America
19 May Adnan Khan (LSE)

Tax Farming Redux: Experimental Evidence on Incentive Pay for Tax Inspectors

27 May Jacob Weisdorf (Copenhagen) The Wages of Women in England, 1260-1850
02 June Ghazala Azmat (QMUL)

The Distribution of Talent across Contests

09 June Andy Tremayne (Liverpool)
TBA
16 June Gani Aldashev (University of Namur, Belgium) 

Kinship networks and technology adoption: Evidence from colonial Kazakhstan

Spring Term 2014
DateSpeakerTitle
27 January Holger Breinlich (Essex) Heterogeneous Firm-Level Responses to Trade Liberalization: A Test Using Stock Price Reactions?
3 February Mirko Draca (Warwick) The Changing Returns to Crime: Product-Level Evidence from the UK
10 February Gabriella Conti (UCL) The Health Effects of Early Childhood Interventions
17 February Joao Santos Silva (Essex) Mode Regression: An overview, current research, and an application to intergenerational income mobility
24 February  Vincent Sterk (LSE)
 -
3 March Olivier Marie (Maastricht) Economic Uncertainty, Parental Selection, and the Criminal Activity of the ‘Children of the Wall’ (with Arnaud Chevalier)
10 March Uta Shoenberg (UCL)  -
17 March Edwin Louven (Oslo) Optimal Peer Grouping in University
24 March Guy Michaels (LSE)  TBC
31 March Sandra McNally (Surrey) Student Awareness of Costs and Benefits of Educational Decisions:
Effects of an Information Campaign and Media Exposure
07 April  Daniel Sturm (LSE) Please note that this seminar is now cancelled due to illness; apologies for any inconvenience caused 

Autumn term 2013
DateSpeakerTitle
28 October  Pierre-Louis Vezina (Oxford) Migrant networks and trade: The vietnamese boat people as a natural experiment 
04 November Esteban Aucejo (LSE) Explaining Cross-Racial Differences in the Educational Gender Gap
11 November  Sergio P. Firpo (EESP) Information, Market incentives and Student performance 
18 November  Peter Neary (Oxford) TBA
25 November  Sarah Smith (Bristol) Getting a healthy start? Using targeted benfits to promote healthy eating 
2 December  Richard Blundell (UCL) 

Female labour supply, human capital and welfare reform 

9 December  Nick Hanley (Stirling) Testing economic indicators of sustainable development 
16 December John Morrow (LSE) Productivity as if space mattered: An application to factor markets across china 
Summer term 2013
DateSpeakerTitle
17 June Eric Maurin (PSE)   
10 June Julien Grenet (PSE/CNRS)   
3 June Ralf Martin (LSE/Imperial)  
20 May Beata Javorcik (Oxford)   
13 May Oriana Bandiera (LSE)   
29 April Anthony Heyes (Ottawa)

NGO's as 'shiners of light'

Spring term 2013
DateSpeakerTitle
15 April Steve Machin (UCL)  
8 April Rick van der Ploeg (Oxford) Climate Tipping and Economic Growth
25 March Sambit Bhattacharyya (Sussex)  
18 March Monique de Haan (Amsterdam)  
11 March Marcelo Olarreaga (Geneva)  
4 March Tim Barmby (Aberdeen)  
25 February Magne Mogstad (UCL)  
18 February Guy Michaels (LSE)  
11 February Koen Decancq (Antwerp) Multidimensional Poverty Measurement
4 February Helena Skyt Nielsen (Aarhus) School starting age and crime
28 January Jean Francois Maystadt (IFPRI) Refugees in Kagera (Tanzania)
21 January Fabian Waldinger (Warwick) Bombs, brains and science: the role of human and physical capital for the creation of scientific knowledge
Autumn term 2012
DateSpeakerTitle
10 December Carol Alexander (Sussex) A General Approach to Real Option Valuation with Applications to Real Estate Investments
3 December Mike Elsby (Edinburgh) TBC 
26 November Peter Dolton (Sussex) 'Making it Count': Evidence from a Field Experiment on Assessment Rules, Study Incentives and Student Performance.
19 November Alexander Moradi (Sussex) Colonial Investments and African Development: Evidence from Ghanaian Railways (with Remi Jedwab)
12 November Esteban Jaimovich (Surrey) When Warm Glow Burns: Motivational (mis)allocation in the non-profit sector"(with Gani Aldashev and Thierry Verdier)
5 November Karthik Muralidharan
(UCSD)
TBC
29 October Erlend Berg (Oxford) Motivating Knowledge Agents: Financial Incentives versus Social Proximity
22 October Florian Ploeckl (Oxford) It's all in the Mail: The Economic Geography of the German Empire
15 October Paddy Carter (Bristol) Aid Allocation Rules
Summer term 2012
DateSpeakerTitle
18 Jun Ferdinand Rauch
(Oxford)
Advertising Expenditures and Consumer Prices
11 Jun Peter Dolton
(Sussex)

Two Tribes go to War: Identifying the effect of the Minimum Wage

4 Jun No seminar (bank holiday) -
28 May Gaia Narcisco
(Trinity College Dublin) 
The Effect of Mafia on Public Transfers
21 May Hylke Vandenbussche
(Louvain)
Verti-zontal Differentiation in Monopolistic Competition
14 May No seminar -
7 May No seminar (bank holiday) -
30 Apr Ian Bateman
(University of East Anglia)
Economic Analysis for the UK Ecosystem Assessment
23 Apr Sambit Bhattacharyya (Sussex) How effective are Rural Public Works in Influencing Agricultural Wages? Evidence from India
16 Apr Peter Neary (Oxford) Selection Effects with Heterogeneous Firms