Intergenerational Mobility between and within Canada and the United States -- by Marie Connolly, Miles Corak, Catherine Haeck
Intergenerational income mobility is lower in the United States than in Canada, but varies significantly within each country. Our sub-national analysis finds that the national border only partially distinguishes the close to one thousand regions we analyze within these two countries. The Canada-US border divides Central and Eastern Canada from the Great Lakes regions and the Northeast of the United States. At the same time some Canadian regions have more in common with the low mobility southern parts of the United States than with the rest of Canada, and the fact that these areas represent a much larger fraction of the American population also explains why mobility is lower in the United States.
Does Class Size Matter? How, and at What Cost? -- by Desire Kedagni, Kala Krishna, Rigissa Megalokonomou, Yingyan Zhao
Using high quality administrative data on Greece we show that class size has a hump shaped effect on achievement. We do so both nonparametrically and parametrically, while controlling for potential endogeneity and allowing for quantile effects. We then embed our estimates for this relationship in a dynamic structural model with costs of hiring and firing. We argue that the linear specification form used in past work may be why it found mixed results. Our work suggests that while discrete reductions in class size may have mixed effects, discrete increases are likely to have very negative effects while marginal changes in class size would have small negative effects. We find optimal class sizes around 27 in the absence of adjustment costs and achievement maximizing ones around 15, and firing costs much larger than hiring costs consistent with the presence of unions. Despite this, reducing firing costs actually reduces achievement. Reducing hiring costs raises achievement and reduces class size. We show that class size caps are costly, and more so for small schools, even when set at levels well above average.
An Empirical Total Survey Error Decomposition Using Data Combination -- by Bruce D. Meyer, Nikolas Mittag
Survey error is known to be pervasive and to bias even simple, but important estimates of means, rates, and totals, such as the poverty and the unemployment rate. To summarize and analyze the extent, sources, and consequences of survey error, we define empirical counterparts of key components of the Total Survey Error Framework that can be estimated using data combination. Specifically, we estimate total survey error and decompose it into three high level sources of error: generalized coverage error, item non-response error and measurement error. We further decompose these sources into lower level sources such as a failure to report a positive amount and errors in amounts conditional on reporting a positive value. For error in dollars paid by two large government transfer programs, we use administrative records on the universe of program payments in New York State linked to three major household surveys to estimate the error components we define. We find that total survey error is large and varies in its size and composition, but measurement error is always by far the largest source of error. Our application shows that data combination makes it possible to routinely measure total survey error and its components. The results allow survey producers to assess error reduction strategies and survey users to mitigate the consequences of survey errors or gauge the reliability of their conclusions.
Combining Administrative and Survey Data to Improve Income Measurement -- by Bruce D. Meyer, Nikolas Mittag
We describe methods of combining administrative and survey data to improve the measurement of income. We begin by decomposing the total survey error in the mean of survey reports of dollars received from a government transfer program. We decompose this error into three parts, generalized coverage error (which combines coverage and unit non-response error and any error from weighting), item non-response or imputation error, and measurement error. We then discuss these three sources of error in turn and how linked administrative and survey data can assess and reduce each of these sources. We then illustrate the potential of linked data by showing how using linked administrative variables improves the measurement of income and poverty in the Current Population Survey, focusing on the substitution of administrative for survey data for three government transfer programs. Finally, we discuss how one can examine the accuracy of the underlying links used in the combined data.
The Return to Hours Worked Within and Across Occupations: Implications for the Gender Wage Gap -- by Jeffrey T. Denning, Brian Jacob, Lars Lefgren, Christian vom Lehn
We document two empirical phenomena. First, the observational wage returns to hours worked within occupation is small, and even negative in some specifications. Second, the wage return to average hours worked across occupations is large. We develop a conceptual framework that reconciles these facts, where the key insight is that workers choose jobs as a bundle of compensation and expected hours worked. As an example, we apply this framework to the gender wage gap and show how it can explain the view expressed in recent work that hours differences between men and women represent a large and growing component of the gender wage gap.
Taxation and Migration: Evidence and Policy Implications -- by Henrik Kleven, Camille Landais, Mathilde Muñoz, Stefanie Stantcheva
In this article, we review a growing empirical literature on the effects of personal taxation on the geographic mobility of people and discuss its policy implications. We start by laying out the empirical challenges that prevented progress in this area until recently, and then discuss how recent work have made use of new data sources and quasi-experimental approaches to credibly estimate migration responses. This body of work has shown that certain segments of the labor market, especially high-income workers and professions with little location-specific human capital, may be quite responsive to taxes in their location decisions. When considering the implications for tax policy design, we distinguish between uncoordinated and coordinated tax policy. We highlight the importance of recognizing that mobility elasticities are not exogenous, structural parameters. They can vary greatly depending on the population being analyzed, the size of the tax jurisdiction, the extent of tax policy coordination, and a range of non-tax policies. While migration responses add to the efficiency costs of redistributing income, we caution against over-using the recent evidence of (sizeable) mobility responses to taxes as an argument for less redistribution in a globalized world.
Trade, Technology, and the Great Divergence -- by Kevin Hjortshøj O'Rourke, Ahmed Rahman, Alan M. Taylor
Why did per capita income divergence occur so dramatically during the 19th Century, rather than at the outset of the Industrial Revolution? How were some countries able to reverse this trend during the globalization of the late 20th Century? To answer these questions, this paper develops a trade-and-growth model that captures the key features of the Industrial Revolution and Great Divergence between a core industrializing region and a peripheral and potentially lagging region. The model includes both endogenous biased technological change and intercontinental trade. An Industrial Revolution begins as a sequence of more unskilled-labor-intensive innovations in both regions. We show that the subsequent co-evolution of trade and directed technologies can create a delayed but inevitable divergence in demographics and living standards—the peripheral region increasingly specializes in production that worsens its terms of trade and spurs even greater fertility increases and educational declines. Allowing for technological diffusion between regions can mitigate and even reverse divergence, spurring a reversal of fortune for peripheral regions.
We introduce, validate, and provide a public database of a new measure of the knowledge inventors draw on: scientific references in patent specifications. These references are common and algorithmically extractable. Critically, they are very different from the “front page” prior art commonly used to proxy for inventor knowledge. Only 24% of front page citations to academic articles are in the patent text, and 31% of in-text citations are on the front page. We explain these differences by describing the legal rules and practice governing citation. Empirical validations suggest that in-text citations appear to more accurately measure real knowledge flows, consistent with their legal role.
Some International Evidence for Keynesian Economics without the Phillips Curve -- by Roger Farmer, Giovanni Nicolò
Farmer and Nicolò (2018) show that the Farmer Monetary (FM)-Model outperforms the three-equation New-Keynesian (NK)-model in post-war U.S. data. In this paper, we compare the marginal data density of the FM-model with marginal data densities for determinate and indeterminate versions of the NK-model for three separate samples using U.S., U.K. and Canadian data. We estimate versions of both models that restrict the parameters of the private sector equations to be the same for all three countries. Our preferred specification is the constrained version of the FM-model which has a marginal data density that is more than 30 log points higher than the NK alternative. Our findings also demonstrate that cross-country macroeconomic differences are well explained by the different shocks that hit each economy and by differences in the ways in which national central banks reacted to those shocks.
Five Facts About Beliefs and Portfolios -- by Stefano Giglio, Matteo Maggiori, Johannes Stroebel, Stephen Utkus
We administer a newly-designed survey to a large panel of retail investors who have substantial wealth invested in financial markets. The survey elicits beliefs that are crucial for macroeconomics and finance, and matches respondents with administrative data on their portfolio composition and their trading activity. We establish five facts in this data: (1) Beliefs are reflected in portfolio allocations. The sensitivity of portfolios to beliefs is small on average, but varies significantly with investor wealth, attention, trading frequency, and confidence. (2) It is hard to predict when investors trade, but conditional on trading, belief changes affect both the direction and the magnitude of trades. (3) Beliefs are mostly characterized by large and persistent individual heterogeneity; demographic characteristics explain only a small part of why some individuals are optimistic and some are pessimistic. (4) Investors who expect higher cash flow growth also expect higher returns and lower long-term price-dividend ratios. (5) Expected returns and the subjective probability of rare disasters are negatively related, both within and across investors. These five facts challenge the rational expectation framework for macro-finance, and provide important guidance for the design of behavioral models.
Tax Professionals: Tax-Evasion Facilitators or Information Hubs? -- by Marco Battaglini, Luigi Guiso, Chiara Lacava, Eleonora Patacchini
To study the role of tax professionals, we merge tax records of 2.5 million taxpayers in Italy with the respective audit files from the tax revenue agency. Our data covers the entire population of sole proprietorship taxpayers in seven regions, followed over seven fiscal years. We first document that tax evasion is systematically correlated with the average evasion of other customers of the same tax professional. We then exploit the unique structure of our dataset to study the channels through which these social spillover effects are generated. Guided by an equilibrium model of tax compliance with tax professionals and auditing, we highlight two mechanisms that may be behind this phenomenon: self-selection of taxpayers who sort themselves into professionals of heterogeneous tolerance for tax evasion; and informational externalities generated by the tax professional activities. We provide evidence supporting the simultaneous presence of both mechanisms.
Economic agents face many different types of economic incentives when making financial and moral decisions. We provide experimental data from a population that uniquely responds to incentives to lie compared to previously studied populations. We conduct a standard 6-sided die rolling lying study within a population that believes that God has knowledge of all their actions. Within this population, we find that those who attend church frequently appear to refrain from lying while those that do not frequently attend church do lie, but do not disguise their lies like more secular populations. We further explain how our data fits into the theoretical work on lying.