Marcel Henkel, Eunjee Kwon, Pierre Magontier, 14 July 2022

The federal government provided $296 billion in disaster relief for catastrophic events in the US between 2001 and 2019. However, excessive bailouts may encourage economic activity to remain in exposed areas. This column shows that increased post-disaster efforts due to political motives result in more people living in hazard-prone coastal regions. A dynamic spatial general equilibrium model predicts that current post-disaster policies improve aggregate welfare at the expense of overall GDP and productivity losses, and encourage sorting into exposed areas.

Roel Beetsma, Jacopo Cimadomo, Josha van Spronsen, 14 March 2022

The global crisis and Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the limitations of the European Economic and Monetary Union, particularly the lack of a fiscal union for cross-border risk sharing. This column proposes a central fiscal capacity for the euro area in which transfers to/from regions are driven by euro-area, country-specific, and region-specific shocks. The scheme can produce substantial stabilisation of regional growth with a limited need for the system as a whole to borrow in any given year. The success of the current Recovery and Resilience Facility will be an important litmus test for such a broader central fiscal capacity.

Titan Alon, Minki Kim, David Lagakos, Mitchell VanVuren, 26 June 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to dramatic policy responses in most advanced economies, and in particular sustained lockdowns matched with sizable transfers to workers. This column discuss the extent to which developing countries should try to replicate these policies. Due to differences in labour market informality, fiscal capacity, healthcare infrastructure, and demographics, blanket lockdowns appear less effective in developing countries. Age-targeted policies – where the young are allowed to work while the old are shielded from the virus – can potentially save both more lives and livelihoods.

Marcel Henkel, Tobias Seidel, Jens Südekum, 04 May 2018

Germany shifts a massive amount of fiscal transfers across jurisdictions every year. This column argues that this limits the degree of economic disparities across regions, but comes at the cost of lower national productivity and output. Still, in terms of welfare, Germany would not be better off if all fiscal transfers were abolished.

Orsetta Causa, Mikkel Hermansen, 23 March 2018

Growing wealth inequality has become a key concern for economists, and tackling it requires a deep understanding of how tax and transfer systems affect the income distribution. Using OECD data, this column argues that taxes and transfers are less effective at reducing inequality today than they were in the mid-1990s. This drop in effectiveness has largely been driven by declining cash transfers, with a smaller, more heterogeneous role for personal income taxes.

Ingvild Almås, Alex Armand, Orazio Attanasio, Pedro Carneiro, 26 March 2016

Most conditional cash transfer programmes around the world target women as the recipients of transfers as a means of empowering them and promoting gender equality. However, the mechanisms at work are poorly understood and empowerment is not well defined or measured. This column discusses a new measure of female empowerment in the household within the context of a national cash transfer programme in Macedonia. Whereas conventional survey questions about power and decision-making don’t reveal any empowerment effects of the programme, this new measure reveals a positive effect.

Damiano Sandri, 17 February 2016

How should the international community deal with the solvency crisis of a systemic country? This column argues that the presence of spillovers calls for reducing bail-ins, while requiring somewhat greater fiscal adjustment by the crisis country. To avoid excessive fiscal consolidation, the international community should also provide highly systemic countries with official transfers. To contain moral hazard, it is important to use transfers only when spillovers are particularly severe.

Margherita Comola, Marcel Fafchamps, 08 December 2015

Dyadic social network data – describing relations between two actors – are frequently derived from self-reporting surveys. This column explores how the misreporting problems that are typical of such data can bias estimations. Data on transfers between households in a Tanzanian village are shown to display a high rate of discrepancies within dyads. Failure to account for such misreporting results in a sizeable underestimation of inter-household transfers. 


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