Youssef Benzarti, Dorian Carloni, 13 November 2017

In the wake of the Global Crisis, some governments sought to stimulate demand through VAT cuts. This column assesses the success of these measures by investigating who benefited from a VAT cut on sit-down restaurant meals in France. The results show that restaurant owners captured the lions’ share of the tax cut, while employees and consumers benefited substantially less. Further, following subsequent tax increases, restaurant owners increased their prices by four to five times more than they had decreased their prices following the original cut.

Pierre Cahuc, Sandra Nevoux, 14 September 2017

Short-time work reduces job destruction by subsidising firms to reduce hours of work and provide earnings support to workers facing lower hours. Since 2008, firms in France that stand to benefit have lobbied successfully to expand the programme massively. This column argues that the expansion primarily benefited large firms using short-time work recurrently to deal with seasonal fluctuations. Making employers contribute to the cost of short-time work would make the policy more efficient.

Laurent Gobillon, Carine Milcent, 21 July 2017

It is widely believed that the goal of keeping health expenditures under control while increasing the quality of the healthcare system can best be achieved by giving a greater role to market forces. This column evaluates the effect of a pro-competition reform implemented in France over 2004-2008 on hospital quality. It finds that the impact on quality depends on the managerial autonomy of hospitals. And due to the French healthcare market structure, the overall effect of the reform has been limited.

Pierre Cahuc, Stéphane Carcillo, Andreea Minea, 08 July 2017

Despite the substantial costs associated with subsidised employment programmes targeting low-skilled youths, little is known about their effectiveness in easing school-to-work transitions. This column evaluates the effectiveness of such programmes for high-school dropouts in France with various types of labour market experience. Work experience, even in the market sector, is not always sufficient to increase the chance of very low-skilled youths being called for interview by an employer, suggesting that measures such as temporary jobs in the non-market sector or hiring subsidies in the market sector should be conditional on getting a certification of skills at the end of the employment period, at least for previously unskilled youths.

Thomas Le Barbanchon, Roland Rathelot, Alexandra Roulet, 27 June 2017

The generosity of unemployment insurance can influence the time and energy job seekers dedicate to searching for a job, as well as the jobs they are willing to accept. Yet we know little about how unemployment insurance affects the reservation wages of the unemployed. Using new French data, this column shows that increasing unemployment generosity does not affect the reservation wages or the ‘pickiness’ of job seekers.

Scott Ross Baker, Nicholas Bloom, Steven Davis, 15 December 2015

Roberto De Santis, 16 March 2017

French sovereign spreads have risen in recent months, coinciding with debate over the euro ahead of the country’s presidential elections in May. Italian sovereign spreads have been rising since the beginning of 2016. This column argues that investors are not pricing a break-up of France from the Eurozone. Most likely, they are pricing the possibility that the newly elected French government will not have enough supremacy to undertake important economic reforms. Market perception of redenomination risk in Italy, on the other hand, is rising slowly. 

Cristina Mitaritonna, Gianluca Orefice, Giovanni Peri, 03 March 2017

Despite numerous studies exploring how immigration affects local labour markets, there is limited evidence on the impact of immigrants on firms’ productivity levels. Using detailed, firm-level data from France, this column explores how firms react to an increase in the supply of immigrant workers. Provinces with a large increase in immigrant supply experienced higher productivity growth, especially among firms that were initially less productive. This suggests immigration can promote convergence in firm size and productivity levels. 

Pierre Cahuc, Olivier Charlot, Franck Malherbet, Hélène Benghalem, Emeline Limon, 05 January 2017

Temporary job contracts account for a substantial proportion of the workforce in countries such as France and Spain, but they can result in high job turnover and instability. This column assesses the impact of government policies that impose taxes on temporary contracts to induce employers to lengthen job durations. Such policies a negative impact on the labour market, reducing the mean duration of jobs and decreasing job creation. The introduction of open-ended contracts with no termination cost for separations occurring at short tenure may be more effective.

Lionel Fontagné, Gianluca Orefice, 18 December 2016

Regulation is a barrier to trade. This column uses French firm-level panel data to assess how technical barriers to trade impact firms’ exports. In the presence of stringent barriers, exporters balance the cost of complying with this regulation against the fixed cost of entering a new market. Barriers reduce the number of exporting firms in each sector-destination, especially in sectors with many multi-destination firms.

Laurence Boone, Ano Kuhanathan, 12 December 2016

A recent Vox eBook examined the potential issues facing various EU members when it comes to negotiating with the UK over Brexit. This column, taken from the ebook, suggests that France is likely to seek to include the UK in a comprehensive free trade zone to maintain easy access to the UK markets, but with a view to safeguarding its own competitiveness.

James Harrigan, Ariell Reshef, Farid Toubal, 06 July 2016

Job polarisation has been documented in many large developed economies over the past two decades. This column shows how the growth of ICT has contributed to these trends. Using French firm-level data, it documents the declining share of middle-wage jobs, and identifies an increase in the share of technology-related jobs as an important contributing factor. Firms with more ‘techies’ are also found to grow faster than less techie-intensive firms.

Denis Fougère, Erwan Gautier, Sébastien Roux, 28 May 2016

In light of the Eurozone Crisis, some countries have implemented reforms to collective wage bargaining institutions, which can be responsible for wage rigidities that are problematic in the face of rising unemployment. This column describes collective wage bargaining in France and how national minimum wage increases are transmitted to wage floors set by industry-level agreements. An increase in the national minimum wage leads to an increase in negotiated industry-level wage floors, which firms then use as references for their wage policy. This might partly explain why French base wages have continued to increase despite recent rising unemployment.

Julian di Giovanni, Andrei Levchenko, Isabelle Mejean, 11 February 2016

The business cycles of countries with greater bilateral trade and multinational production linkages are more closely correlated. But the meaning of this empirical relationship is not well understood. Some contend that these linkages allow for the transmission of shocks across countries, while others argue that countries that trade more with each other are similar in other ways and are thus subject to common shocks. Using data from France, this column examines the properties of international co-movement at the firm level. Even after controlling for common shocks, there is still substantial evidence of transmission of shocks through trade and multinational linkages. Furthermore, trade linkages matter more than multinational ones, especially when it comes to the aggregate impact. 

Laurent Gobillon, Matthieu Solignac, 21 January 2016

Assimilation of migrants can be measured in various ways, one such measure being their access to the homeownership market. This column argues that the evolution of homeownership rates of immigrants is a complex process, with important selection effects. In France, the homeownership rate among northern African immigrants lags behind not only that of natives, but also southern European immigrants. A possible reason is discrimination against northern African immigrants not only on the labour market, but also on the credit and housing markets.

Scott Ross Baker, Nicholas Bloom, Steven Davis, 15 December 2015

The recent influx of refugees to Europe has stoked security fears and created anxiety about the social and economic consequences. This column provides new quantitative indicators for the intensity of migration-related fears and policy uncertainty, based on newspaper articles. The indices are presented for the US, UK, France, and Germany, and extend back to 1995. They show that recent levels of concern and uncertainty in European countries about migration are unprecedented. 

Matthieu Crozet, Emmanuel Milet, 14 December 2015

Industrial classifications tend to depict the economy as a collection of separate sectors, and arbitrary lines are consequently drawn between these sectors. This column argues that this way of thinking ignores the complexity of production processes and management strategies, creating a divide between ‘manufacturing’ and ‘services’ which is stronger than it should be. In fact, manufacturing firms often produce and sell services to third parties – known as ‘servitisation’. Economic policies that fail to take into account the dual aspect of the activities of manufacturing firms may prove inadequate. 

David Amiel, Paul-Adrien Hyppolite, 15 March 2015

As the Eurozone crisis lingers on, euro exit is now being debated in ‘core’ as well as ‘periphery’ countries. This column examines the potential costs of euro exit, using France as an example. The authors estimate that 30% of private marketable debt would be redenominated, but since only 36% of revenues would be redenominated, the aggregate currency mismatch is relatively modest. However, the immediate financial cost of exiting the euro would nevertheless be substantial if public authorities were to bail out systemic and highly exposed companies.

Reka Juhasz, 15 January 2015

The effect of trade protection of infant industries in developing countries on their long-term growth has been widely debated. This column provides evidence on this topic using a novel dataset from the Napoleonic blockade against British trade. The author analyses the effect of this temporary trade protection on the cotton spinning as an infant industry, employing within-country variation in the trade protection. In the short run, better protected regions increased their production capacity in the infant industry. There is a persistence of this productivity in the long run as well. 

Eric Monnet, 05 July 2014

The Global Crisis has raised the interest of banks in using quantitative controls, such as credit controls. This column discusses a relatively recent historical episode of credit controls in France. During this episode the role of interest rates was almost eliminated. Quantitative controls effectively decreased output and prices in the short-run. The difficulty for the Central Bank stemmed from the fact that it had to change its instruments constantly. This historical episode demonstrates that macroprudential tools can have substantial effects on monetary policy.

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