Al Slivinski, Nathan Sussman, 20 March 2019

The problem of tax compliance is as old as the levying of taxes. Innovations in tax administration that induce high compliance rates at reasonable cost are extremely important to governments. This column demonstrates how the taille, a tax collection mechanism from medieval Paris, raised compliance by turning the social cost of tax evasion into a private one. It offers a tax collection model that is still relevant to governments today.

Philippe Aghion, 08 March 2019

Philippe Aghion, of the College de France and LSE, discusses work on merged datasets from the UK – one detailing occupation & wages, the other looking at R&D and investment.

Jonathan Dingel, Kyle Meng, 06 March 2019

Climate change is expected to reshape the global distribution of productivities. In theory, shifts in the spatial structure of economic conditions will affect international inequality by altering the pattern of international trade. In practice, it is hard to identify natural experiments to causally validate predictions about global conditions. This column describes research that exploits a global climatic phenomenon to estimate the general equilibrium consequences of changes in the spatial correlation of productivities. 

Danny Leipziger, 05 March 2019

Laurence Boone, Antoine Goujard, 04 March 2019

The ‘yellow vest’ demonstrations in France appear, at least in part, to be another example of the anti-globalisation sentiment that has emerged in a number of OECD countries. This column argues that the movement is also rooted in the country’s broken social elevator. Redistribution through taxes and social transfers is not sufficient to curb the inequality in opportunity, which is mostly linked to the educational system and perpetuates economic and social situations from one generation to the next.

James J Feigenbaum, Christopher Muller, Elizabeth Wrigley-Field, 18 February 2019

The mortality rate of non-Hispanic white Americans in midlife has been rising since the beginning of the 21st century, in contrast to the national decline in deaths from infectious disease witnessed during the previous century. This column reviews the fall in infectious mortality in US cities across regions and racial groups. It finds that southern cities had the highest rate of death from infectious disease in every year from 1900 to 1948, primarily because southern cities were populated by greater proportions of black residents, who suffered extreme risks from infectious disease in cities in all regions. 

Matthias Helble, Trang Thu Le, Trinh Q. Long, 10 February 2019

The sudden rise in trade between China and the US – known as the ‘China shock’ – has been the subject of numerous studies, but the even more dramatic increase in trade between China and developing countries in Asia has been somewhat overlooked. This column studies the impact of the China shock on income inequality in Vietnam. It suggests that increased trade with China reduced income inequality. It resulted in income growth for the lowest income quantiles while higher income groups saw their income decline.

Oded Galor, Ömer Özak, Assaf Sarid, 20 January 2019

Evidence suggests that ancient regional variations in geographical characteristics contributed to the differential formation of culturaland linguistic traits, which in turn shaped development and inequality in today’s world. This column discusses how geographical characteristics are linked to the emergence of long-term orientation and the future tense, how they shaped distinct gender roles and possibly contributed to the emergence of grammatical gender, and how ecological diversity is connected to the emergence of hierarchical societies and reflected in politeness distinctions in language.

Andreas Fuster, Paul Goldsmith-Pinkham, Tarun Ramadorai, Ansgar Walther, 11 January 2019

The use of machine learning in credit allocation should allow lenders to better extend credit, but the shift from traditional to machine learning lending models may have important distributional effects for consumers. This column studies the effect of machine learning on mortgage lending in the US. It finds that machine learning would offer lower rates to racial groups who already were at an advantage under the traditional model, but it would also benefit disadvantaged groups by enabling them to obtain a mortgage in the first place.

Jacques Bughin, Christopher Pissarides, 02 January 2019

Europe’s social contracts to protect their citizens from socioeconomic risks are based on an inclusive growth model characterised by a more egalitarian view of revenue generation and distribution. But this model is under strain, with various global trends placing upward pressure on inequality that could intensify. This column suggests that keeping the essence of Europe’s current inclusive growth model does not preclude it from adapting its current social contracts to protect its citizens, whatever the disruptions that lie ahead.

Branko Milanovic, 20 December 2018

Eric Gould, 19 December 2018

Declining manufacturing jobs in the US has a disproportionate impact on less-educated workers. Given that the black population is less educated than the white population, this will have a larger effect on blacks relative to whites. This column uses US Census data to show that the decline has increased inequality both within black and white communities and between black and white communities. It has also widened racial gaps in income, employment, health, marriage, and family formation.

Raj Chetty, John Friedman, Nathaniel Hendren, Maggie R. Jones, Sonya R. Porter, 06 November 2018

Economic mobility varies dramatically across the US. This column introduces a new interactive mapping tool that traces the roots of outcomes such as poverty and incarceration back to the neighbourhoods in which children grew up. Among the insights the data reveal are that children who grow up a few miles apart in families with comparable incomes have very different life outcomes, and that moving in early childhood to a neighbourhood with better outcomes can increase a child’s income by several thousands of dollars later in life.

, 05 November 2018

Over the last decade, UNU-WIDER have produced over 2,000 studies on economic and social development. This video outlines some important lessons from their work, from aid and data to inequality and energy.

Lubos Pastor, Pietro Veronesi, 28 September 2018

The vote for Brexit and the election of protectionist Donald Trump to the US presidency – two momentous markers of the ongoing pushback against globalisation – led some to question the rationality of voters. This column presents a framework that demonstrates how the populist backlash against globalisation is actually a rational voter response when the economy is strong and inequality is high. It highlights the fragility of globalisation in a democratic society that values equality.

Bertrand Garbinti, Jonathan Goupille-Lebret, Thomas Piketty, 05 September 2018

France is often considered to be an equalitarian country with a low level of inequality. Of course, this is true when compared to the United States, where inequality has skyrocketed recently. But the fact remains that France has also experienced a sharp rise in inequality. This column combines data from different sources to construct distributional national accounts and show the limits of the French myth of egalitarianism.

Martin Nybom, Kelly Vosters, 15 October 2018

In 2014, Gregory Clark proposed a ‘simple law of mobility’ suggesting that intergenerational mobility is much lower than previously believed, and relatively uniform across countries. This column tests this law using US and Swedish data. The results show, in contrast to the simple law of mobility, no evidence of a rise in intergenerational persistence and no evidence of uniformity across countries.

Isaiah Hull, Conny Olovsson, Karl Walentin, Andreas Westermark, 23 August 2018

Large movements in house prices can have broad and substantial effects on the macroeconomy. This column uses property-level data to identify the key drivers of house price volatility and decompose this into national, regional, local, and idiosyncratic components. There is substantial cross-sectional variation in house price risk, with higher firm concentration, employment volatility, and manufacturing share of output and employment associated with greater risk. 

Rachel Lurie, Ashoka Mody, 22 August 2018

Annette Alstadsæter, 03 August 2018

It's routine for the rich to dodge tax by hiding it offshore. But how much of their wealth are they hiding illegally? Tim Phillips talks to Annette Alstadsæter of the Norwegian University of Life Sciences about how she and her colleagues used whistleblower data to discover the extent of tax evasion by the ultra-rich.



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