George Wehby, Dhaval Dave, Robert Kaestner, 26 September 2016

Despite ample research on the effects of minimum wage increases on employment, there has been little consensus on the effects of such increases on workers’ broader welfare, and in particular on their health and that of their families. This column analyses comprehensive data from the US on the effects of minimum wage increases on the health of children born to low-income workers. It finds that the increases have a significant positive impact on birth weights. This has important policy implications, with infant health acting as a reliable indicator of future health.

Carlos Arteta, M Ayhan Kose, Marc Stocker, Temel Taskin, 26 September 2016

Against a background of persistently weak growth and low inflation expectations, a number of central banks have implemented negative interest rate policies over the past few years. This column argues that such policies could help provide additional monetary policy stimulus, as long as policy interest rates are only modestly negative and do not stay negative for too long to avoid adverse effects on the financial sector. While these policies do have a place in the policymaker’s toolkit, they need to be handled with care to secure their benefits while mitigating risks.

Enrique Fernández-Macías, Martina Bisello, 25 September 2016

A tasks approach to labour market analysis can contribute to a better understanding of structural change and employment trends. However, its narrow focus on a few specific types of task content and its neglect of the social aspects of production can limit the usefulness of this approach. This column presents a new framework for conceptualising and measuring tasks, and discusses an application to Europe.

Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Nancy Holman, 24 September 2016

Good architectural design is a public good, but economists and policymakers lack robust evidence on the impact of well designed architecture on location value when planning spaces. This column verifies the worth of preserving and designing good architectural spaces by analysing the changes in property prices across conservation and non-conservation areas in England. It finds that good design in buildings has a substantial positive impact on location value. 

Matthew Weinzierl, 24 September 2016

Tax policy to correct inequality assumes that nobody is entitled to advantages due to luck alone. But the public largely rejects complete equalisation of 'brute luck' inequality. This column argues that there is near universal public support for an alternative, benefit-based theory of taxation. Treating optimal tax policy as an empirical matter may help us to close the gap between theory and reality.

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