Judith Delaney, Paul Devereux, 18 April 2019

Women are much less likely to study STEM degrees at university. This column reveals that in the case of Ireland, the gender gap is concentrated in the areas of engineering, technology, and mathematics. Subject choice in secondary school is the most important predictor of the portion of the gap that can be explained, with a small role for grades achieved in mathematics versus English. A gender gap of 9% remains even among students who studied the same subjects and achieved the same grades at secondary school.

Jean Hindriks, Valerio Serse, 18 April 2019

Alcohol tax pass-through can vary substantially across products, but it also depends on the location of stores. This column examines retail prices of six major brands of spirits in Belgium after a tax reform, and finds evidence that the impact on prices varied across regions. These variations depended on the intensity of local competition and, to a lesser extent, proximity to national borders. 

Terence Mills, Forrest Capie, Charles Goodhart, 18 April 2019

It is well known that the slope of the term structure of interest rates contains information for forecasting the likelihood of a recession in the US. This column examines whether the same is true for the UK. Focusing on three periods – the pre-WWI era, the inter-war years, and the post-WWII period – it finds strong support for the inverted yield curve being a predictor of UK recessions for both the pre-WWI and post-WWII periods, but the evidence is less conclusive for the inter-war years.

Raj Chetty, John Friedman, 17 April 2019

Using confidential data to publish statistics based on small samples is challenging due to privacy loss. This column introduces a simple method for dealing with this issue which adds noise to each statistic in proportion to its sensitivity to the addition or removal of a single observation from the data. The method generally outperforms widely used methods of disclosure limitation such as count-based cell suppression both in terms of privacy loss and statistical bias. As an illustration, the method is used to release estimates of social mobility by Census tract in the Opportunity Atlas. 

Dirk Schoenmaker, 16 April 2019

The ECB’s market-neutral approach to monetary policy undermines the general aim of the EU to achieve a low-carbon economy. The column argues that steering the allocation of the Eurosystem’s assets and collateral towards low-carbon sectors would reduce the cost of capital for these sectors relative to high-carbon sectors. A modest titling approach could accelerate a transition to a low-carbon economy, and could be implemented without interfering with the priority of price stability.

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