The Intergenerational Effects of Parental Incarceration -- by Will Dobbie, Hans Groenqvist, Susan Niknami, Marten Palme, Mikael Priks
We estimate the causal effect of parental incarceration on children's medium-run outcomes using administrative data from Sweden. Our empirical strategy exploits exogenous variation in parental incarceration from the random assignment of criminal defendants to judges with different incarceration tendencies. We find that the incarceration of a parent in childhood leads to significant increases in teen crime and pregnancy and a significant decrease in early-life employment. The effects are concentrated among children from the most disadvantaged families, where teen crime increases by 18 percentage points, teen pregnancy increases by 8 percentage points, and employment at age 20 decreases by 28 percentage points. In contrast, there are no detectable effects among children from more advantaged families. These results imply that the incarceration of parents with young children may increase the intergenerational persistence of poverty and criminal behavior, even in affluent countries with extensive social safety nets.
The Welfare Effects of Encouraging Rural-Urban Migration -- by David Lagakos, Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, Michael E. Waugh
This paper studies the welfare effects of encouraging rural-urban migration in the developing world. To do so, we build a dynamic incomplete-markets model of migration in which heterogenous agents face seasonal income fluctuations, stochastic income shocks, and disutility of migration that depends on past migration experience. We calibrate the model to replicate a field experiment that subsidized migration in rural Bangladesh, leading to significant increases in both migration rates and in consumption for induced migrants. The model's welfare predictions for migration subsidies are driven by two main features of the model and data: first, induced migrants tend to be negatively selected on income and assets; second, the model's non-monetary disutility of migration is substantial, which we validate using using newly collected survey data from this same experimental sample. The average welfare gains are similar in magnitude to those obtained from an unconditional cash transfer, though migration subsidies lead to larger gains for the poorest households, which have the greatest propensity to migrate.
Value for Money? Community Targeting in Vote-Buying and Politician Accountability -- by Jessica Leight, Dana Foarta, Rohini Pande, Laura Ralston
Community targeting of vote payments -- defined as the saturation of entire neighborhoods with cash prior to elections -- is widespread in the developing world. In this paper, we utilize laboratory experiments conducted in the U.S. and Kenya to demonstrate that, relative to individual targeting, a vote-buying regime that distributes payments widely renders voters more tolerant of politician rent-seeking, and increases the level of politician rent-seeking observed in equilibrium. The most parsimonious model of preferences consistent with these patterns is a model in which both politicians and voters are characterized by multifaceted social preferences, encompassing reciprocity, altruism, and inequality aversion.
Triffin gained enormous influence by reviving the interwar story that gold scarcity threatened deflation. In particular, he held that central banks needed to accumulate claims on the United States to back money growth. But the claims would eventually surpass the US gold stock and then central banks would inevitably stage a run on it. He feared that the resulting high US interest rates would cause global deflation. However, we show that the US gold position after WWII was no worse than the UK position in 1900. Yet it took WWI to break sterling's gold link. And better and feasible US policies could have kept Bretton Woods going. This history serves as a backdrop to our critical review of two later extensions of Triffin. One holds that the dollar's reserve role required US current account deficits. This current account Triffin is popular, but anachronistic, and flawed in logic and fact. Nevertheless, it pops up in debates over the euro's and the renminbi's reserve roles. A fiscal Triffin holds that global demand for safe assets will either remain dangerously unsatisfied, or force excessive US fiscal debt. Less flawed, this story posits implausibly inflexible demand for and supply of safe assets. Thus, these stories do not convince in their own terms. Moreover, each lacks Triffin's clear cross-over point from a stable system to an unstable one. Triffin's seeming predictive success leads economists to wrap his brand around dissimilar stories. Yet Triffin's dilemma in its most general form correctly points to the conflicts and difficulties that arise when a national currency plays a role as an international public good.
We summarize a framework for the study of the implications of automation and AI on the demand for labor, wages, and employment. Our task-based framework emphasizes the displacement effect that automation creates as machines and AI replace labor in tasks that it used to perform. This displacement effect tends to reduce the demand for labor and wages. But it is counteracted by a productivity effect, resulting from the cost savings generated by automation, which increase the demand for labor in non-automated tasks. The productivity effect is complemented by additional capital accumulation and the deepening of automation (improvements of existing machinery), both of which further increase the demand for labor. These countervailing effects are incomplete. Even when they are strong, automation in- creases output per worker more than wages and reduce the share of labor in national income. The more powerful countervailing force against automation is the creation of new labor-intensive tasks, which reinstates labor in new activities and tends to increase the labor share to counterbalance the impact of automation. Our framework also highlights the constraints and imperfections that slow down the adjustment of the economy and the labor market to automation and weaken the resulting productivity gains from this transformation: a mismatch between the skill requirements of new technologies, and the possibility that automation is being introduced at an excessive rate, possibly at the expense of other productivity-enhancing technologies.
Match Quality, Search, and the Internet Market for Used Books -- by Glenn Ellison, Sara Fisher Ellison
This paper examines the effect of the Internet on markets in which match-quality is important, including an analysis of the market for used books. A model in which sellers of unusual objects wait for high-value buyers to arrive brings out match quality and competition effects through which improved search technologies may increase both price dispersion and social welfare. A reduced-form empirical analysis finds support for a number of more nuanced predictions of the model in the context of the used book market, exploiting both cross-sectional differences across books and time-series differences in the wake of Amazon's acquisition and incorporation of a large used book marketplace. The paper develops a framework for structural estimation of a model based on the theory. The estimates suggest that the shift to Internet sales substantially increased both seller profits and consumer surplus.
We document three new facts about entrepreneurship. First, a majority of male entrepreneurs start a firm in the same or a closely related industry as their fathers' industry of employment. Second, this tendency is correlated with intelligence: higher-IQ entrepreneurs are less likely to follow their fathers. Third, an entrepreneur that starts a firm in the same 5-digit industry as where his father was employed tends to outperform entrepreneurs in the same industry whose fathers did not work in that industry. We consider various explanations for these facts and conclude that "dinner table human capital", where children obtain industry knowledge through their parents, is an important factor behind what type of firm is started and how well it performs.
Misallocation Measures: The Distortion That Ate the Residual -- by John Haltiwanger, Robert Kulick, Chad Syverson
A large literature on misallocation and productivity has arisen in recent years, with Hsieh and Klenow (2009; hereafter HK) as its standard empirical framework. The framework's usefulness and theoretical founding make it a valuable starting point for analyzing misallocations. However, we show that the empirical lynchpin of this approach can be very sensitive to model misspecification. The condition in the HK model that maps from observed production behaviors to the misallocative wedges/distortions holds in a single theoretical case, with strict assumptions required on both the demand and supply sides. We demonstrate that applying the HK methodology when there is any deviation from these assumptions will mean that the "distortions" recovered from the data may not be signs of inefficiency. Rather, they may simply reflect demand shifts or movements of the firm along its marginal cost curve, quite possibly in directions related to higher profits for the business. The framework may then not just spuriously identify inefficiencies; it might be more likely to do so precisely for businesses better in some fundamental way than their competitors. Empirical tests in our data, which allow us to separate price and quantity and as such directly test the model's assumptions, suggest the framework's necessary conditions do not hold. We empirically investigate two of the possible sources of departures from the HK assumptions and implications and find support for both. We also find that measures of distortions that emerge from this approach are in fact strongly positively related with survival, suggesting they embody favorable profit conditions for the business. At the same time, however, once we condition on demand and supply fundamentals, the distortion measure becomes inversely related with survival. This suggests the measure may contain a distortionary component, but it is empirically swamped by other factors.
Statistical Discrimination and Duration Dependence in the Job Finding Rate -- by Gregor Jarosch, Laura Pilossoph
This paper models a frictional labor market where employers endogenously discriminate against the long term unemployed. The estimated model replicates recent experimental evidence which documents that interview invitations for observationally equivalent workers fall sharply as unemployment duration progresses. We use the model to quantitatively assess the consequences of such employer behavior for job finding rates and long term unemployment and find only modest effects given the large decline in callbacks. Interviews lost to duration impact individual job-finding rates solely if they would have led to jobs. We show that such instances are rare when firms discriminate in anticipation of an ultimately unsuccessful application. Discrimination in callbacks is thus largely a response to dynamic selection, with limited consequences for structural duration dependence and long term unemployment.
Bureaucratic Competence and Procurement Outcomes -- by Francesco Decarolis, Leonardo M. Giuffrida, Elisabetta Iossa, Vincenzo Mollisi, Giancarlo Spagnolo
To what extent does a more competent public workforce contribute to better economic outcomes? We analyze this question in the context of the US federal procurement by combining data on office-level competencies, federal workforce characteristics, and procurement performance. Using an instrumental variable strategy, we find that the effects of competence heterogeneity across bureaus are quantitatively important: if all federal bureaus were to obtain NASA's high level of competence (corresponding to the top 10 percent of competence), delays in contract execution would decline by 7.2 million days and price renegotiations would drop by $13.5 billion over the 2010-2015 period analyzed. Cooperation within the office appears to be a key driver of the findings.
The Introduction of Tasers and Police Use of Force: Evidence from the Chicago Police Department -- by Bocar Ba, Jeffrey Grogger
In March 2010, the Chicago Police Department changed its Taser policy, issuing the weapons to patrol officers instead of largely restricting their use to sergeants. We used that policy change to obtain difference-in-difference estimates of how the availability of Tasers affected the types of force employed by police, the total number of use-of-force incidents, injury rates per incident, the total number of injuries, and the race distribution of civilians involved in use-of-force incidents. The policy change initially led to a large increase in the use of Tasers, with limited substitution from other types of force. After a period of re-training, substitution between Tasers and other types of force, both greater and lesser, increased. Police injuries fell, but neither injury rates nor the number of injuries to civilians were affected. There is no evidence that Tasers led to a reduction in police use of firearms.
Do School Spending Cuts Matter? Evidence from the Great Recession -- by C. Kirabo Jackson, Cora Wigger, Heyu Xiong
Audits of public school budgets routinely find evidence of waste. Also, recent evidence finds that when school budgets are strained, public schools can employ cost-saving measures with no ill-effect on students. We theorize that if budget cuts induce schools to eliminate wasteful spending, the effects of spending cuts may be small (and even zero). To explore this empirically, we examine how student performance responded to school spending cuts induced by the Great Recession. We link nationally representative test score and survey data to school spending data and isolate variation in recessionary spending cuts that were unrelated to changes in economic conditions. Consistent with the theory, districts that faced large revenue cuts disproportionately reduced spending on non-core operations. However, they still reduced core operational spending to some extent. A 10 percent school spending cut reduced test scores by about 7.8 percent of a standard deviation. Moreover, a 10 percent spending reduction during all four high-school years was associated with 2.6 percentage points lower graduation rates. While our estimates are smaller than some in the literature, spending cuts do matter.