The Drug Crisis and the Living Arrangements of Children -- by Kasey Buckles, William N. Evans, Ethan M.J. Lieber
We examine the impact of the drug crisis that has unfolded over the last three decades in the United States on children’s living arrangements and environments. Because the current living arrangement could be a result of events that occurred at any point in a child’s life, we measure children’s exposure to the crisis with the cumulative drug-related mortality of likely parents. A potential omitted variables bias complicates the analysis, as the factors that may have led parents to abuse drugs could also have altered the living arrangements of their children. Within a 2SLS framework, we instrument for the cumulative mortality of likely parents with a child’s years of exposure to a non-triplicate prescription pad environment. Previous work by Alpert et al. (2019) demonstrates that pharmaceutical advertising was much more extensive in non-triplicate states and fostered the development of the drug crisis. Our results indicate that OLS and 2SLS estimates are nearly identical and the crisis increased both the fraction of children living away from a parent and in a household headed by a grandparent. We estimate that if drug abuse had remained at 1996 levels, 1.5 million fewer children aged 0-16 would have lived away from a parent in 2015.
The Economic Consequences of R̂ = 1: Towards a Workable Behavioural Epidemiological Model of Pandemics -- by Joshua S. Gans
This paper reviews the literature on incorporating behavioural elements into epidemiological models of pandemics. While modelling behaviour by forward-looking rational agents can provide some insight into the time paths of pandemics, the non-stationary nature of Susceptible-Infected-Removed (SIR) models of viral spread makes characterisation of resulting equilibria difficult. Here I posit a shortcut that can be deployed to allow for a tractable equilibrium model of pandemics with intuitive comparative statics and also a clear prediction that effective reproduction numbers (that is, R) will tend towards 1 in equilibrium. This motivates taking R̂=1 as an equilibrium starting point for analyses of pandemics with behavioural agents. The implications of this for the analysis of widespread testing, tracing, isolation and mask-use is discussed.
We analyze persuasion in a model in which each receiver can buy a direct access to the sender's signal or rely on her network connections to get it. For the sender, a higher bias increases the impact per direct receiver, yet diminishes the willingness of agents to receive information. Contrary to naive intuition, the optimal propaganda might target peripheral, rather than centrally-located agents, and is at its maximum levels when the probability that information flows between agents is close to zero or one, but not in-between. The impact of network density depends on this probability as well.
Self-Harming Trade Policy? Protectionism and Production Networks -- by Alessandro Barattieri, Matteo Cacciatore
Using monthly data on temporary trade barriers (TTBs), we estimate the dynamic employment effects of protectionism through vertical production linkages. First, exploiting procedural details of TTBs and high-frequency data, we identify movements in protectionism exogenous to economic fundamentals. We then use input-output tables to construct measures of protectionism affecting downstream producers. Finally, we estimate panel local projections using the identified trade-policy shocks. Protectionism has small and insignificant beneficial effects in protected industries. In contrast, the effects in downstream industries are negative, sizable, and significant. The employment decline follows an increase in intermediate-inputs and final goods prices.
Small Business Survival Capabilities and Policy Effectiveness: Evidence from Oakland -- by Robert P. Bartlett III, Adair Morse
Using unique City of Oakland data during COVID-19, we document that small business survival capabilities vary by firm size as a function of revenue resiliency, labor flexibility, and committed costs. Nonemployer businesses rely on low cost structures to survive 73% declines in own-store foot traffic. Microbusinesses (1-to-5 employees) depend on 14% greater revenue resiliency. Enterprises (6-to-50 employees) have twice-as-much labor flexibility, but face 11%-to-22% higher residual closure risk from committed costs. Finally, inconsistent with the spirit of Chetty-Friedman-Hendren-Sterner (2020) and Granja-Makridis-Yannelis-Zwick (2020), PPP application success increased medium-run survival probability by 20.5%, but only for microbusinesses, arguing for size-targeting of policies.
Window Dressing in the Public Sector: A Case Study of China’s Compulsory Education Promotion Program -- by Hanming Fang, Chang Liu, Li-An Zhou
We examine window dressing phenomenon in the public sector by studying the strategic responses of Chinese local officials to the compulsory education promotion program launched by the central government in the 1990s. According to this program, the Chinese counties should receive inspections on whether the compulsory educational targets were achieved on pre-scheduled time by provincial governments; and failing to pass the inspection would have severe negative career consequences for the county leaders. We find that county-level educational expenditures saw a sustained increase before the inspection, but a sharp drop immediately after the inspection. Local officials who were more likely to be inspected within their tenures window-dressed more aggressively. As a result, middle school enrollment rates declined significantly after the inspection, and rural girls bore the blunt of the decline in school enrollment.
Understanding the German Criticism of the Target System and the Role of Central Bank capital -- by Roberto Perotti
Criticism of the Target system by a group of central European scholars has become a widespread argument against the policies of the European Central Bank and even the integrity of the monetary union, and even standard fare in the media and in the political debate in Germany. Most academics and practitioners that have participated in the debate have been dismissive of the German preoccupations. In this paper, I first try and clarify the many remaining misunderstandings about the workings and implications of the Target system. I propose a unified, systematic and simple approach to the study of the workings of the Target system in response to different shocks and in comparison with different alternative regimes. I then argue that the German criticism of the Target system is not so unfounded after all, and should be taken seriously, both on theoretical grounds and for its political implications.
Do State Earned Income Tax Credits Increase Participation in the Federal EITC? -- by David Neumark, Katherine E. Williams
In recent years, many states and some local governments implemented or expanded their own supplemental Earned Income Tax Credits (EITCs). The expansion of state EITCs may have stemmed in large part from wanting to provide a more generous program than the federal program, because state EITCs increase transfer payments to low-income recipients who qualify. However, state and local governments can also benefit from maximizing participation of their constituents in the federal EITC, and there are several reasons why state or local EITCs could increase participation in the federal EITC program. We find some evidence suggesting that state EITCs may increase federal EITC program participation among low-skilled single filers with children.
Can greater investment in infrastructure raise U.S. long-run output? Are infrastructure projects a good short-run stimulus to the economy? This paper uses insights from the macroeconomics literature to address these questions. I begin by analyzing the effects of government investment in both a stylized neoclassical model and a medium-scale New Keynesian model, highlighting the economic mechanisms that govern the strength of the short-run and long-run impacts. The analysis confirms earlier findings that the implementation delays inherent in infrastructure projects reduce short-run multipliers in most cases. In contrast, long-run multipliers can be sizable when government capital is productive. Moreover, these multipliers are greater if the economy starts from a point below the socially optimal amount of public capital. Turning to empirical estimation, I use the theoretical model to explain the econometric challenges to estimating the elasticity of output to public infrastructure. Using both artificial data generated by simulations of the model and extensions of existing empirical work, I demonstrate how both general equilibrium effects and optimal choice of public capital are likely to impart upward biases to output elasticity estimates. Finally, I review and extend some empirical estimates of the short-run effects, focusing on infrastructure spending in the ARRA.
Information Frictions and Access to the Paycheck Protection Program -- by Christopher Neilson, John Eric Humphries, Gabriel Ulyssea
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) extended 669 billion dollars of forgivable loans in an unprecedented effort to support small businesses affected by the COVID-19 crisis. This paper provides evidence that information frictions and the “first-come, first-served” design of the PPP program skewed its resources towards larger firms and may have permanently reduced its effectiveness. Using new daily survey data on small businesses in the U.S., we show that the smallest businesses were less aware of the PPP and less likely to apply. If they did apply, the smallest businesses applied later, faced longer processing times, and were less likely to have their application approved. These frictions may have mattered, as businesses that received aid report fewer layoffs, higher employment, and improved expectations about the future.
The Targeting and Impact of Paycheck Protection Program Loans to Small Businesses -- by Alexander W. Bartik, Zoe B. Cullen, Edward L. Glaeser, Michael Luca, Christopher T. Stanton, Adi Sunderam
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) aimed to quickly deliver hundreds of billions of dollars of loans to small businesses, with the loans administered via private banks. In this paper, we use firm-level data to document the demand and supply of PPP funds. Using an instrumental variables approach, we find that PPP loans led to a 14 to 30 percentage point increase in a business’s expected survival, and a positive but imprecise effect on employment. Moreover, the effects on survival were heterogeneous and highlight an important tradeoff faced by policymakers: while administering the loans via private banks allowed for rapid delivery of funds, it also limited the government’s ability to target the funding - instead allowing pre-existing connections between businesses and banks to determine which firms would benefit from the program.
We ask: what are the most efficient means of redistribution in an unequal society? We answer this question by characterizing the optimal shape of non-linear income and wealth taxes in a dynamic general equilibrium model with uninsurable idiosyncratic risk. Our analysis reproduces the distribution of income and wealth in the United States and explicitly takes into account the long-lived transition dynamics after policy reforms. We find that a uniform flat tax on capital and labor income combined with a lump-sum transfer is nearly optimal. Though taxing wealth and allowing for increasing marginal income tax schedules raises utilitarian welfare, the incremental gains from doing so are small. This result is robust to changing household preferences, the distribution of ability, the planner's preference for redistribution, as well as to explicitly modeling private business ownership and the ensuing heterogeneity in rates of return across financially constrained entrepreneurs.