Sauro Mocetti, Giacomo Roma, Enrico Rubolino, 16 August 2018

A large proportion of workers are employed in licensed occupations whose entry conditions and economic returns are significantly shaped by regulation. This column examines the consequences of two waves of liberalisation in professional services in Italy since the 2000s for intergenerational mobility and allocative efficiency. The analysis reveals a substantial decrease in the propensity to follow the same career as one’s parents, particularly among less able children, suggesting that anticompetitive regulation might produce inefficiencies in the allocation of talents across occupations.

Jiangtao Fu, Daichi Shimamoto, Yasuyuki Todo, 01 December 2015

It has been widely argued that firms obtain loans with relaxed terms if they are politically connected. This column presents evidence from Indonesia that firms whose owners or directors have a personal relationship with a politician are more likely to have their loans approved by state-owned banks, and are more likely to receive the full amount applied for. However, the labour productivity of such firms is on average lower. This suggests that in some cases, politically connected lending may distort the efficiency of resource allocation and be detrimental to economic development.

Kirill Shakhnov, 17 January 2015

The rapid growth of the US financial sector has driven policy debate on whether it is socially desirable. This column examines the trade-off between finance and entrepreneurship, and links the growth of finance to rising wealth inequality. Although financial intermediation helps allocate capital efficiently, people choosing a career in finance do not internalise the negative effect on the pool of talented entrepreneurs. This mechanism can explain the simultaneous growth of wealth inequality and finance in the US, and why more unequal countries have larger financial sectors.

Victor Lavy, Avraham Ebenstein, Sefi Roth, 20 November 2014

Admission to higher education often depends on the results of high-stakes tests, but assessing the consequences of having a ‘bad day’ on such tests is challenging. This column provides evidence from a dataset on Israeli high-school students. Random variations in pollution have measurable effects on exam performance, and these in turn have significant effects on students’ future educational and labour-market outcomes. The authors argue that placing too much weight on high-stakes exams may not be consistent with meritocratic principles.

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