Yinon Bar-On, Ofer Cornfeld, Tatiana Baron, Ron Milo, Eran Yashiv, 04 July 2020

Rapidly expanding research on COVID-19 in economics typically posits an economy subject to a model of epidemiological dynamics. This column shows that there are often serious misspecifications of the model, which erroneously assume a relatively slow-moving disease, thereby distorting the policy decisions towards less severe, delayed interventions. Moreover, the scale of the disease is underestimated.

Luan Borelli, Geraldo Goes, 01 July 2020

Brazil has faced great difficulties in controlling the COVID-19 epidemic, having become the world’s epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic and recently reaching 50,000 fatalities. This column argues that the great heterogeneities between states in Brazil, together with difficulties in political coordination, may have shaped these consequences. Looking at five states, it investigates whether certain differences in the states’ intrinsic characteristics may have influenced the dynamics of the local epidemic. Governments may need to consider local conditions and adopt heterogeneous containment policies.

Yothin Jinjarak, Rashad Ahmed, Sameer Nair-Desai, Weining Xin, Joshua Aizenman, 20 May 2020

Remobilising workers without risking a COVID-19-related medical overload will require effective modelling to guide public policy. Applying multiple techniques, this column studies the factors engendering the empirical shape of mortality curves from the onset of the pandemic to local peaks, with a focus on how policy intensity interacted with structural variables. Accounting for global diffusion patterns, it finds that more stringent policies were associated with significantly lower mortality growth rates, which took longer to peak in countries considered more democratically free and those further from the equator. 

Michał Burzyński, Christoph Deuster, Frédéric Docquier, Jaime de Melo, 10 December 2019

There has been much discourse on how long-term climate change will affect human mobility over the course of the 21st century. This column estimates the long-term welfare and mobility responses to climate change. Depending on the scenario, climate change will force between 210 and 320 million people to move, mostly within their own countries. Massive international flows of climate refugees are unlikely, except under generalised and persistent conflicts. The poorest economies will be hardest hit, thus increasing global inequality and extreme poverty. 

Elizabeth Caucutt, Nezih Guner, Christopher Rauh, 06 April 2019

In 2006, 67% of white women in the US between the ages of 25 and 54 were married, compared with only 34% of black women. This column examines the link between this and the decline in low-skilled jobs and the era of mass incarceration that have disproportionately affected black communities. It finds that differences in incarceration and employment dynamics between black and white men account for half of the black–white marriage gap.

Monica Andini, Emanuele Ciani, Guido de Blasio, Alessio D'Ignazio, 21 November 2018

The impact of a public policy partly depends on how effective it is in selecting its targets. Machine learning can help by exploiting increasingly available amounts of information. Using data from Italy, this column presents two examples of how to employ machine learning to target those groups that could plausibly gain more from the policy. It illustrates the benefits of machine-learning targeting when compared to the standard practice of employing coarse policy assignment rules based on a few arbitrarily chosen characteristics.

Klaus Desmet, Dávid Krisztián Nagy, Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, 02 October 2018

Assessments of the economic cost of a rise in sea-level are often limited to estimating the current value of structures and output in low-lying coastal areas. This column argues that understanding how economic activity will move when faced with flooding is key to correctly evaluating the cost of permanent inundation. When using a high-resolution dynamic spatial model of the world economy, combined with state-of-the-art local projections of sea-level rise for the next 200 years, the cost is substantially lower than when ignoring adaptation through moving. There is huge heterogeneity across space though, with some low-lying coastal areas hit particularly hard. 

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.

Eli P Fenichel, Matthew Kotchen, Ethan T Addicott, 20 August 2017

How the future is discounted in cost-benefit analyses is a contested issue, with economists disagreeing on whether approaches to discounting should be prescriptive or descriptive. This column presents a new way to model individuals’ discounting based on a demographic approach. The advantages of a purely mortality-based approach are transparency, an empirical basis, and broad data availability.

Liwa Rachel Ngai, Kevin Sheedy, 06 October 2015

The housing market is important for many developed economies, not least in the UK. This column presents new research in search and matching modelling suggesting that the quality of a house-buying match is important in understanding not only the time taken to sell a house, but also the length of time homeowners will live in the new house before their next move. The research should provide economists with new insights into housing market dynamics.

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