Lorenzo Coviello, Uri Gneezy, Lorenz Götte, 18 February 2018

Measuring the returns to search engine marketing accurately is difficult, but one study suggested that if eBay were to suspend its branded search ads, the volume of traffic to the site would remain virtually unchanged. Based on a field test involving a website for automotive information in the US, this column argues that money spent on search engine marketing by smaller brands may be more effective than previously documented. Only about half of the traffic normally flowing through branded search ads still flowed to the site when it relied only on organic search links.

Benjamin Villena-Roldán, Stefano Banfi, 17 February 2018

Researchers often pick a random or a directed search model based on convenience and theoretical implications, but distinguishing between the two is important as many labour market regulations may be welfare-improving under random search, but not under directed search. This column uses data from Chile to show that job-seekers respond to information posted by employers, suggesting that policy design should consider the prescriptions of directed search models.  However, the evidence also shows that relevant features of these markets are not well captured by existing models.

Olivier Sterck, Max Roser, Mthuli Ncube, Stefan Thewissen, 16 February 2018

Large multilateral organisations like WHO and the UN rely heavily on average income data in determining eligibility for, and the allocation of, development assistance for health. This column tests this paradigm by analysing the determinants of health outcomes for 99 countries. A country’s epidemiological surroundings, poverty gap, and institutional capacity appear to be much better predictors of health outcomes than gross national income. These findings suggest alternative metrics that could be leveraged in allocating development assistance for health.

Ron Anderson, Chikako Baba, Jon Danielsson, Heedon Kang, Udaibir Das, Miguel Segoviano, 15 February 2018

Current stress testing of banks is focused on the resiliency of individual banks to exogenous shocks. This column describes how the next generation of macroprudential stress tests aim to capture the endogenous nature of systemic risk caused by the interaction of all the institutions and markets making up the financial system. This will lead to a better policy mix aimed at preserving financial stability.

Susanne Frick, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 14 February 2018

Urban concentration is typically deemed to lead to greater national economic growth. This column challenges this view, using an original dataset covering 68 countries over the past three decades. Urban concentration levels have decreased or remained stable on average, though these averages hide widely diverging trends across countries. Although concentration has been beneficial for high-income countries, this hasn’t been the case for for developing countries.

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