August 2021

Hegna, Ulltveit-Moe, 31 August 2021

Though R&D is a key driver of productivity growth, the effects of immigration on R&D investment remain poorly understood. This column investigates the impact that a large immigration shock – in this case, the sudden influx of migrants to Norway following the 2004 enlargement of the EU – had on R&D investments. The results suggest that immigration shocks can have a negative impact on a receiving country’s R&D investments, with potentially long-term consequences for productivity growth.

Dossche, Gazzani, Lewis, 30 August 2021

Labour productivity is more procyclical in OECD countries with lower employment volatility. To capture this new stylised fact, this column proposes a business cycle model with employment adjustment costs, variable hours, and labour effort. In the model with variable effort, it shows that greater labour market frictions are associated with procyclical labour productivity as well as stable employment. In contrast, the constant-effort model fails to replicate the observed cross-country pattern in the data. Labour market deregulation has a greater effect on labour productivity cyclicality and employment volatility when effort can vary. 

De Winne, Peersman, 29 August 2021

The world is expected to see a significant rise in the frequency, duration, and intensity of extreme weather events. This column examines the macroeconomic effects of global food commodity price increases that are caused by global harvest and weather disruptions, and finds that the decline in economic activity is substantial and greater in advanced than in low-income countries. The findings suggest that the consequences of climate change for advanced countries may be greater than previously thought, and the strong rise in food prices since the outbreak of COVID-19 could seriously impede the recovery.

Kretschmer, Werner, 28 August 2021

Recent discussions on how to regulate dominant online platforms revolve around the suitability of applying existing regulatory frameworks. This column contrasts the economic and strategic features of platform business models to those of utility industries, which are often considered structurally similar. It argues that the design of effective regulation for dominant digital platforms should account for platforms’ nature as an ecosystem of independent actors and for their relatively shorter innovation cycles.

Schneider, 27 August 2021

The records of London's Foundling Hospital provide centuries of information on children's health. Eric Schneider tells Tim Phillips how he used this data to discover surprising information about the link between nutrition and common childhood illnesses.

Read more about the research behind this Vox Talk:

Schneider, E. 2021. 'The Effect of Nutritional Status on Historical Infectious Disease Morbidity: Evidence from the London Foundling Hospital, 1892-1919'. CEPR

Miyagawa, Ishikawa, 27 August 2021

The Japanese economy has seen a decline in the contribution of capital accumulation to economic growth since 2000. This column uses over 30 years of national productivity data to explore this trend. It finds that the fall in tangible capital accumulation has largely been offset by investment into intangible capital. However, the growth in tangible and intangible capital accumulation has been imbalanced, calling for support of both types of asset accumulation. 

Fernández-Cerezo, González, Izquierdo, Moral-Benito, 26 August 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic and the imposed social distancing restrictions represented an unprecedented shock for the world economy and caused a marked increase in uncertainty. Based on a new firm-level survey matched with balance-sheet information, this column presents new evidence from Spain on the asymmetric impact of the pandemic shock. The impact of the Covid-19 shock was larger in the case of small and less productive firms within each sector and region. However, the unexpected announcement of the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine significantly improved the prospects of faster recovery under different sets of measures.

Schweiger, Stepanov, Zacchia, 26 August 2021

Localised innovation policies, such as local R&D clusters, are very popular, yet the evidence about their effectiveness is scarce in the short run, let alone the long run. This column fills the gap by studying the long-run effects of a historic localised place-based innovation policy in the form of Russian science cities. It finds that in present-day Russia, science cities remain more innovative and productive, host more highly skilled workers, and pay them higher salaries. 

Boxell, 25 August 2021

Political polarisation can have significant effects on economic behaviour and political effectiveness. This column presents key trends in US political polarisation and discusses their implications. It shows that polarisation (1) has been increasing since the 1980s, (2) has grown at similar rates across different age groups, and (3) has increased more in the US relative to many other developed countries. Potential determinants for these trends in US political polarisation include racial divisions, elite polarisation, and cable TV news consumption.

Aiyar, Patnam, 24 August 2021

Recent research suggests that World Bank aid disbursements are associated with outflows from recipient countries to offshore financial centres, indicating elite capture of aid. This column uses 25 years of data to examine whether the same is true for IMF lending. It finds no evidence that IMF loans are diverted to offshore bank accounts. This could be because IMF lending differs in structural respects – such as conditionality, concessionality, and continuity – from World Bank aid.

Bryson, Blanchflower, 24 August 2021

When Queen Elizabeth II asked economists why none of them had seen the Great Recession coming, they presented her with a number of reasons but forgot to mention the main one: they hadn’t paid attention to ‘red lights’ that had been flashing in the qualitative survey data from consumers and producers that predicted the downturn. Chief among these was the fear of unemployment which, as this column shows, predicts upticks in unemployment 12 months ahead.

Baranek, Boffa, Kastl, 23 August 2021

Carbon pricing is generally considered by economists as a superior alternative for emissions mitigation to command-and control regulation. This column uses data from the Italian electricity market to challenge this view in the context of the electricity sector, showing that carbon pricing schemes may not work efficiently when the major firms in the market are government controlled. As the vast majority of large electricity generators in the world are government-controlled and the electricity sector accounts for more than 40% of global carbon emissions from fuel combustion, the findings have important policy implications. Properly implemented command and control approaches might be more efficient, especially since reliable estimates of the production functions of electric generators are readily available.

Branzoli, Rainone, Supino, 23 August 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic increased the pace of change in clients’ relationships with the banking sector, with mobility restrictions forcing banks to make better use of information technology to accommodate the increasing demand for digital financial services. This column analyses the role of IT adoption in bank lending since the outbreak of the pandemic. It finds that intermediaries with a higher degree of digital readiness provided more credit to non-financial corporations. It also shows that proximity to a physical bank branch increased the positive impact of IT on the amount of credit granted.

Principe, van Ours, 22 August 2021

The mass media is the main source of information for fans of professional football, and racial bias in the way the media reports on sport activities would be a cause for concern. This column analyses data on over 400 players and shows that there is racial bias in the way Italian newspapers rate professional football players. Conditional on objective performance indicators, Black players receive a lower rating than non-Black players. The authors find no evidence of a racial bias in the wages Italian football clubs pay their players.

Hu, Ma, 21 August 2021

Persuasive communication relies not only on content but also on its delivery. This column uses machine learning algorithms to examine the persuasiveness of delivery in startup pitches to venture capitalists. Positive (i.e. passionate, warm) pitches increase the probability of funding, but on receiving funding, high-positivity startups tend to underperform. Women are more heavily judged on delivery when evaluating single-gender teams, but they are neglected when pitching alongside men. The results of an experiment suggest that persuasion delivery works mainly through leading investors to form inaccurate beliefs.

Benmir, Jaccard, Vermandel, 20 August 2021

Climate change is one of the most pressing issues of our time. The challenge for policymakers is that climate policies could have a negative impact on the economy in the short term. This column discusses how this trade-off between fighting climate change and ensuring a stable business cycle affects the design of environmental policies. The authors argue in favour of a time-varying carbon tax that is increased during booms and decreased during recessions.

Baumann, Rossi, Volkmann, 20 August 2021

After bouts in the 1970s and 1980s, consumer price inflation has been trending downward since the 1990s. Recently, voices fearing a pick-up in inflation have become more numerous and louder. This column describes the main forces acting on inflation in 122 countries over the last two decades, with the aim of informing the current debate. While energy prices act strongly on inflation, factors such as central bank independence or inflation targeting have little explanatory power.

Voth, 20 August 2021

In 1932, Hitler and his followers believed that marching through the streets in uniform would convince the German public to vote them into power. But did the flags, songs and stomping boots actually persuade people? Hans-Joachim Voth tells Tim Phillips how polling data (and the spread of a pandemic) reveal whether this type of propaganda actually worked.

Read more about the research behind this Vox Talk:

Caesmann, M, Caprettini, B, Voth, H and Yanagizawa-Drott, D. 2021. 'Going Viral: Propaganda, Persuasion and Polarization in 1932 Hamburg'. CEPR

Bobeica, Hartwig, Nickel, 20 August 2021

The initially muted reaction of euro area inflation to the recent recession suggests that the Phillips curve is flat or may have flattened during the pandemic. This column argues that the assessment of the Phillips curve has become more complicated due to numerous confounding factors. It discusses evidence that underlying inflationary pressures have been dampened by the build-up of slack, and that models accounting for tail events reveal more stable Phillips curve parameters. Despite the many confounding factors, it seems that the Phillips curve is still at play – even if it is hard to pin down precisely.

Bighelli, Lalinsky, di Mauro, 19 August 2021

Government support in response to the Covid-19 pandemic has raised concerns about the misallocation of public funds and the creation of ‘zombie’ firms. This column uses firm-level data from CompNet for four EU countries to show that Covid-19 support was distributed rather efficiently. Government subsidies were distributed towards medium productive firms, and only marginally towards the undeserving ‘zombies’. However, the negative impact of the pandemic on productivity growth was large and resource reallocation sluggish, which calls for a removal of the blanket as soon as the situation allows. 

Freund, Mattoo, Mulabdic, Ruta, 18 August 2021

The immediate consequences of natural disasters for global value chains are well-documented, but little is known about the longer term. This column examines the long-term impact of the 2011 earthquake in Japan on auto and electronics supply chains using data on imports of Japanese products worldwide. Imports shifted to new suppliers, especially in products where dependence on Japan was greater. The new suppliers tended to be developing and large countries, suggesting cost and scale were important. The observed pattern of switching may be relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Ilzetzki, 18 August 2021

By most measures, income inequality has increased in the UK in the past several decades. The July 2021 CfM survey asked the members of its UK panel to evaluate the impact of central banks on inequality and whether the Bank of England should consider income and wealth distribution in its monetary policy decisions. The majority the panel thinks monetary policy has only a small impact on wealth and income inequality. A larger majority of nearly 90% of the panel believes that inequality should play a minimal role or no role in the Bank of England’s monetary policy decisions.

Arezki, Dama, Rota-Graziosi, 17 August 2021

The empirical evidence on the relationship between trade orientation and growth in developing countries has been hotly contested for over half a century. This column focuses on the dynamic effects of trade liberalisation on tax revenue. Using a worldwide panel dataset, it shows a statistically negative effect of liberalisation on (non-resource) tax revenues in the short term and no significant effect in the medium term. Implementing a VAT prior to liberalisation mitigates its negative effects on tax revenues. 

Ha, Kose, Ohnsorge, 17 August 2021

Understanding the dynamics of inflation requires a comprehensive database that covers a large number of countries over a long period. This column introduces a new global database of inflation that has a significantly larger coverage than other databases as it includes multiple measures of inflation for up to 196 countries over 1970-2021. The database can be used in a variety of contexts. A few potential applications are illustrated, analysing the evolution of inflation since 1970, the behaviour of inflation during global recessions, and the synchronisation of inflation across countries and over time,

Voinea, Loungani, 16 August 2021

Over the past three decades, post-crisis inflation in OECD economies has only picked up once the gap between current wages and peak pre-crisis wages has closed. This column explores the role of the cumulative wage gap in driving inflation, with a particular focus on Covid-19. The authors argue that the increase in inflation in recent months, which appears driven by one-off increases in income and supply bottlenecks, will not be sustained, as long as cumulative wage gaps remain wide.

Drelichman, Vidal-Robert, Voth, 16 August 2021

Throughout history, religion has influenced growth and per capita output, and its effects are felt even in modern times. This column investigates the effect of one of history’s longest-running and most intrusive forms of religious persecution – the Spanish Inquisition. In areas without measured persecution, annual GDP per capita is significantly higher than in areas where the Inquisition was most active. Local levels of persecution continue to influence economic activity and basic attitudes some 200 years after the abolition of the Inquisition, undermining trust, reducing investments in human capital, and impoverishing hardest-hit areas.

Beck, Saka, 15 August 2021

Despite the commonly held views of economists on regulatory capture, our profession has been much more hesitant in recognising similar conflicts of interests that may exist in economics research. This column reports on the related discussions and research presented at the second London Political Finance (POLFIN) workshop, including work on the interaction between political power and corporate favouritism, the influence of partisanship on international capital flows, and political polarisation in financial news as well as in corporate boards. It lays out some of the important takeaways and suggests directions for further research that can shed light on the remaining issues.

Baqaee, Sangani, 14 August 2021

There are multiple mechanisms that drive aggregate increasing returns to scale. This column argues that the higher aggregate efficiency in larger markets may principally arise from a ‘Darwinian effect’ that causes high-markup firms to expand relative to low-markup firms as market size increases. This effect, which does not depend on the shape of the demand curve, means that additional firm entry can be valuable because it helps mitigate cross-sectional misallocation. Policymakers can harness this effect by incentivising entry, for example with a subsidy on entry costs. 

Angelov, Waldenström, 13 August 2021

The negative economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has received much attention, but less is known about its distributional consequences. This column presents new evidence on the pandemic’s inequality effects in Sweden using data on earnings and individual take-up of government Covid-19 support. The results show that income inequality increased during the pandemic, mostly due to layoffs and fewer working hours among low-income, part-time employees. The government’s support policies significantly dampened the increase in inequality but did not reverse it.

Anayi, Barrero, Bloom, Bunn, Davis, Leather, Meyer, Oikonomou, Mihaylov, Mizen, Thwaites, 13 August 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic hit some firms and sectors especially hard. As economies bounce back, a key question is whether the recovery will re-employ all of the workers shed during the downturn, and whether they will go back to similar jobs. Using data from the Decision Maker Panel survey of UK businesses and the Survey of Business Uncertainty in the US, this column examines the ongoing impact of the Covid shock on cross-firm resource reallocation, summing the pandemic’s effects thus far and firms’ expectations for future reallocation of jobs and sales. The combined backward and forward-looking rate of job reallocation has roughly doubled in both countries, and sales reallocation has risen by even more, particularly in the UK. Businesses expect this accelerated pace of reallocation to persist into 2022, which raises the chance that mismatch unemployment will slow recovery in the medium term. 

Bown, 12 August 2021

In the scramble for PPE in early 2020, prices spiked, supplies dried up, and doctors were forced to use garbage bags for protection. A year on, Chad Bown has examined what happened, and he tells Tim Phillips how we can avoid a repeat.

The paper discussed is: Bown, C. 2021. 'How COVID-19 medical supply shortages led to extraordinary trade and industrial policy'. CEPR, Discussion Paper 16359

Cuesta, Ahmed Hannan, 12 August 2021

Covid-19 has had a staggering adverse impact on lives and livelihoods, disproportionately affecting the poor and the vulnerable. To shed light on possible scarring effects, this column studies the effect of five past pandemics on output, unemployment, poverty, and inequality in the near and medium term. The findings reveal significant negative effects, although countries that provided relatively large fiscal support experienced limited output declines. Historically, increases in unemployment, poverty, and inequality were lower for countries with greater fiscal support and relatively stronger initial conditions, which included higher formality, family benefits, and health spending. 

Bartholomew, Diggle, 12 August 2021

Central banks are increasingly considering their role in meeting climate objectives. Often, they justify this by arguing that climate considerations directly impact on their primary objectives of price and financial stability. This column argues that a stronger case is that the urgency of climate risks is such that standard neutrality-based objections to central bank involvement in economic allocation are obviated. Indeed, neutrality-based arguments look especially weak when it is realised that neutrality is essentially impossible for central banks to achieve.

Kenny, Lennard, O'Rourke, 11 August 2021

Economic historians have not reached a consensus on whether Ireland deindustrialised in the 19th century, although nationalists have argued that the 1800 union with Great Britain exposed Irish industry to the full force of competition. This column constructs a new annual index of industrial production in Ireland between 1840 and 1913. Despite a shrinking industrial labour force, Irish industry expanded by 1.4% a year on average in this period due to the productivity growth of those that remained. However, Ireland’s performance was still dismal by international standards.

Ellison, Scott, Sinclair, 11 August 2021

The majority of children born in high-income countries today can expect to live into old age, making ageing well an important priority. This column calculates that there are diminishing returns to further improvements in US life expectancy, and that it is more valuable to achieve a compression of morbidity. Treatments that delay ageing in ways that improve both health and life expectancy are especially valuable. Targeting ageing rather than single diseases exploit the synergies between health and lifespan, impacts several disease categories, and reduces competing risks. A virtuous circle in ageing leads to a rising value of delaying ageing the more we succeed in delaying ageing. 

Li, Lo, Thakor, 11 August 2021

Innovation is a key driver of economic growth, and incentivising research and development is therefore a vital policy goal. This column explores the role of competition policy in stimulating innovation by pharmaceutical firms. Specifically, the authors assess the effect that ‘pay-for-delay’ agreements have on firm-level research and development in the US. The results suggest that restricting the ability of firms to engage in pay-for-delay agreements appears to increase their incentives to innovate in the face of competition, although the aggregate effects are not clear-cut.

Bloom, Hassan, Kalyani, Lerner, Tahoun, 10 August 2021

It has long been recognised that innovation is unevenly distributed, but whether such technical progress may be the root cause of the rising income and wealth inequality in the US has been a matter of intense debate. This column studies the diffusion of 29 disruptive technologies across firms and labour markets in the US. It finds the locations where such technologies arise are highly concentrated but as they mature they gradually spread across space, particularly for lower-skilled hiring. Higher-skilled hiring is much slower to spread, with locations where initial discoveries were made retaining their leading positions among high-paying positions for decades. These technology hubs are more likely to arise in areas with universities and high-skilled labour pools.

Bricongne, Meunier, 10 August 2021

While repeated waves of Covid-19 infections are prolonging the global pandemic, the literature is drawing tentative lessons from the various measures implemented. This column highlights five. (1) A stringent and early lockdown seems more efficient. (2) Although a comparison across measures is econometrically challenging, the cancelling of public events stands out as one of the most efficient. (3) While the merits of geographical targeting seem mixed, numerous models advocate for targeting by age and type of job. (4) Even without a lockdown, pandemics affect economic activity through voluntary social distancing. (5) Relaxing a lockdown should be done gradually even during vaccine roll-out, as avoiding a resurgence relies on rigorous sanitary measures. 

Armand, Augsburg, Bancalari, 09 August 2021

Community toilets in slums are often degraded, dirty, and poorly maintained, but upgrading facilities is difficult because of low willingness to pay among potential users and free riding. This column looks at community toilets in Uttar Pradesh, India, and asks whether externally incentivising maintenance can sustainably improve the quality of public infrastructure. Providing cash incentives to the caretaker and a one-time facility upgrade improved the quality of facilities and reduced free riding, but pushed more residents to practise open defecation, with poor public health outcomes. Fully subsidising basic services is important but measures are needed to prevent overcrowding and degradation.

Fujiwara, Inoue, Yamaguchi, Aoyama, Tanaka, Kikuchi, 09 August 2021

The way money flows among firms can tell us about their economic activities and responses to economic shocks such as the one caused by Covid-19. This column uses data on remittances in a regional bank in Japan to demonstrate how the three parts of the network structure of the flow of money – upstream, downstream, and circulation of flow – reflect characteristics of supplier-customer relationships. As well as helping with the prediction of occurrences following an economic shock, the findings also have implications for banks’ management of credit risk.

Ito, 08 August 2021

In a policy reversal, the US has announced its support for a proposed temporary waiver of intellectual property rights on COVID-19-related pharmaceuticals, although it is unclear how much of the undisclosed information regarding unpatented elements would be disclosed in order to facilitate technology transfer to developing countries. This column argues that most efficient way to achieve equitable vaccine access would be to concentrate production in a smaller number of countries with sufficient production capacity. It also looks at the implications for Japan, which is caught in a dilemma between the need to vaccinate the population quickly and the need to secure incentives for developing domestic vaccine capacity for future pandemics.

Limão, Xu, 07 August 2021

Production is increasingly specialised, with firms concentrating workers on certain tasks that take advantage of outsourced intermediate inputs. This column uses a new framework where firms can adopt intermediate-intensive technologies to study the relationship between globalisation and specialisation, and its implications for the labour share and income. It finds that an expansion in market size such as that resulting from globalisation increases production specialisation, decreases labour cost shares, and increases profit concentration.

Durante, 06 August 2021

Remember when your local newspaper was filled with classified advertising? Once, three-line ads for lonely hearts and used cars for sale were a guaranteed source of revenue. Then Craigslist replaced classifieds in the US, and the result, Ruben Durante tells Tim Phillips, has been less political reporting and more partisan polarisation.

You can download and read the underlying research, Djourelova, M, R Durante and G Martin (2021), “The impact of online competition on local newspapers: Evidence from the introduction of Craigslist”, CEPR Discussion Paper 16130 , here

Furman, Kearney, Powell, 06 August 2021

As of June 2021, the US labour-force participation rate had not yet recovered to pre-COVID-19 levels. This column explores how much the aggregate decline in employment between 2020 and 2021 can be explained by excess job loss among parents, and particularly mothers, of young children, who have had to contend with school and daycare closures during the pandemic. The findings suggest that excessive employment declines among parents do not explain a sizeable share of ongoing job loss. A larger decline in employment for parents of young children was seen only among women without a bachelor’s degree.

Bellmann, Bourgeon, Gathmann, Gleiser, Kagerl, Kleifgen, König, Leber, Marguerit, Martin, Pohlan, Roth, Schierholz, Stegmaier, Aminian, 05 August 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced firms to adapt their work processes to the infectious dynamic and the public health measures to contain it. Using survey data of almost 2,000 establishments in Germany, this column shows that the pandemic has accelerated the diffusion of digital technologies, especially in combination with working from home. Investments are particularly prominent in large establishments, while small and medium-sized establishments are less likely to invest in digital technologies and more likely to face financial or logistic barriers to investment. Investments vary a lot across sectors, but are less influenced by the current economic condition of the establishment.

Reichlin, Ricco, Tarbé, 05 August 2021

Monetary policy has fiscal implications since its effect on interest rates, inflation and output relaxes or tightens the general government inter-temporal budget constraint. Inflation dynamics is the result of both monetary policy and the fiscal response to it via the adjustment of the primary deficit. This column discusses estimates of the fiscal responses to monetary policy in the euro area. It shows that the more modest impact of unconventional monetary policy easing on inflation, if compared with the impact of conventional easing, can be explained by a more modest increase in the primary deficit in the former case.

Miyauchi, Nakajima, Redding, 04 August 2021

Traditional theories emphasise production decisions and the commuting costs of workers in shaping the spatial concentration of economic activity in cities. However, much of urban travel is related to consumption of non-traded services, such as trips to restaurants, shopping centres, and cultural venues. This column looks at commuting and non-commuting trips within the Greater Tokyo metropolitan area to explore how consumption access can explain the observed spatial variation in economic activity. Access to consumption opportunities and to employment opportunities both matter; focusing solely on commuting trips provides a misleading picture of travel patterns.

Mahieu, Pfeiffer, Varga, in 't Veld, 04 August 2021

Next Generation EU is an unprecedented tool that provides significant financial support for reforms and investment, resulting in a coordinated fiscal expansion across the EU. This column quantifies the effects of the additional investment expenditure for each member state by extending a standard macro model with a rich trade structure. The model suggests Next Generation EU investment can boost GDP by up to 1.5%, and that the effects are around one-third larger when explicitly accounting for the spillover effects from individual-country measures. A simple aggregation of the national effects of individual investment plans would thus substantially underestimate the growth effects of Next Generation EU.

Ravallion, 03 August 2021

Economists have long debated the most effective metrics for measuring poverty and inequality. This column presents analysis of the relative importance of three prominent macroeconomic indicators – the rate of unemployment, the inflation rate, and the growth rate of GDP per capita. Using evidence from the US, the author argues that higher unemployment rates unambiguously increase poverty measures, but that inflation matters more in the middle and upper-middle of the distribution than in the tails.

Avdeenko, Eryilmaz, 03 August 2021

Sudden floods across Central Europe have led governments to initiate bailouts, putting decades-old debates on how to respond to future natural disasters back on the policy agenda. Using a representative longitudinal dataset, this column provides evidence that the 2013 floods in Germany reduced willingness to take risks among men living close to the flooded areas, but had no such effect on women. It also finds that affected households were significantly more likely to hold life insurance after the floods. The findings suggest that a portion of the costs associated with natural disasters is likely to be internalised by households at risk, with implications for governments seeking to provide incentives for household-level adaptation measures such as insurance or better building standards. 

Ferranna, Sevilla, Bloom, 02 August 2021

The Covid-19 pandemic has posed governments with many ethical questions regarding lockdowns and vaccine prioritisation. Policies involve difficult health and income trade-offs, and the consequences are heterogeneously distributed across the population. This column analyses the implications of benefit-cost analysis, cost-effectiveness analysis, and social welfare function analysis in the context of Covid-19. It argues that the social welfare function approach is more appealing than traditional methods because it explicitly accounts for societal inequalities and the distribution of policy impacts in the population.

Russo, Cardinale Ciccotti, De Alexandris, Gjinaj, Romaniello, Scatorchia, Terranova, 02 August 2021

Many countries turned to use contact-tracing apps to help control the spread of COVID-19. Despite public policy efforts, however, tracking apps have not been a success because of public concerns over data privacy. This column compares nine countries to explore the conditions behind the successful use of digital technologies and AI for public purposes. Individuals give over personal data to internet companies but are wary of sharing their data for the public interest. Citizen trust in public interventions and commitment to social goals need to be nurtured in normal times to be effective in emergencies.

Goulas, Megalokonomou, 01 August 2021

Understanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on education requires a solid grasp of the impact of student autonomy on learning. This column examines the impacts of an innovative policy in Greece that provided higher-performing students with more autonomy. Targeted students missed more classes, while lower-performing students’ attendance remained unchanged. The autonomy policy was used more by students in academically diverse classrooms, and is associated with increased performance only in high-stakes subjects for targeted students.

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