Anne Case, 17 February 2020

Anne Case traces the rise in 'deaths of despair' in the US back to stagnating wages and the contracting out by firms of low-skilled jobs to avoid high health insurance costs

Alejandro Cuñat, Robert Zymek, 17 February 2020

Most countries exhibit large variation in bilateral trade balances across their trade partners. This column argues that it is possible to use gravity trade models to describe the sources of this variation with greater clarity, but that a large portion of the variation still remains poorly understood. It also shows that tariffs imposed during the US-China trade war will reduce the US-China trade deficit in the long run, but only by worsening the US trade balance with other trade partners almost one-for-one.

Kym Anderson, 16 February 2020

Global alcoholic beverage markets have changed dramatically in recent years due to globalisation, income growth in emerging economies, changes in individual preferences, policy initiatives to curb socially harmful drinking, and, in particular, the dual trade policy shocks of Brexit and the US’s unilaterally imposed discriminatory tariffs. This column provides an overview of the major trends and projects the possible effects of Brexit and the US tariffs on the global alcohol market. It concludes that both shocks would reduce world trade in wine. Even countries not targeted by US tariffs can be worse off if those tariffs sufficiently reduce global consumption. 

Susan Ariel Aaronson, 05 February 2020

Individuals, citizens and firms have become increasingly dependent on data-driven services such as artificial intelligence and apps, and the same is true of defence and national security officials. This column argues that the US failure to adequately govern how firms use and monetise data affects national security in many ways. It also examines specific examples of the misuse of data and assesses the responses by the US and the EU.

Alvaro Calderon, Vasiliki Fouka, Marco Tabellini, 01 February 2020

The 1940-1970 Great Migration of African Americans was one of the largest episodes of internal migration in the US. This column examines how resulting changes in the racial composition of local constituencies affected voters’ preferences and politicians’ behaviour. It finds that Democrats and union members supported blacks’ struggle for racial equality, but that backlash against civil rights erupted among Republicans and among whites who more exposed to racial mixing of their neighbourhoods. It also shows that politicians largely responded to demands of their constituencies. The findings suggest that under certain conditions, cross-race coalitions can emerge, but they also indicate that changes in the composition of the electorate can polarise both voters and politicians.

Peter Arcidiacono, Josh Kinsler, Tyler Ransom, 22 January 2020

Many elite universities in the US send recruitment materials to secondary school students in an effort to enlarge their applicant pools. This column focuses on Harvard University and documents a sudden increase in African American applications, driven by those with lower entrance exam scores, which did not result in a larger share of African American admits. It discusses possible motivations for this practice of recruiting applicants, particularly African Americans, who essentially have no chance of being admitted. 

Michele Fioretti, Hongming Wang, 19 January 2020

As health spending continues to rise globally, pay-for-performance can be an attractive policy tool for promoting high-quality services at lower costs. But there are concerns that it weakens the finances of poor-performing hospitals in low-income areas. This column examines the efficiency and equity consequences of the introduction of pay-for-performance in the Medicare insurance programme in the US. It finds that after the payment reform, high-quality insurers selected healthier enrollees, shifting the distribution of high-quality insurance to the healthiest counties and worsening regional disparities in healthcare access.

Peter Egger, Jiaqing Zhu, 09 January 2020

The US and China have been exchanging threats and imposing tariffs in a ‘trade war’ since early 2018. Sound statistical and holistic economic analysis of the trade dispute’s consequences is difficult due to data limitations. This column scrutinises global stock market responses to assess the effects of the trade war and finds that, on average, the US and Chinese tariffs have directly hurt targeted firms/sectors abroad as intended, but they have also hurt firms at home. It also reveals unintended effects on third parties, mediated by global value chain interdependencies.

Ruben Durante, 20 December 2019

New research demonstrates what we all suspected: for decades, politicians have routinely used busy news days to bury unpopular announcements. Ruben Durante educates Tim Phillips in the politics of distraction.

Yong Suk Lee, Benjamin Cedric Larsen, Michael Webb, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, 14 December 2019

As artificial intelligence becomes more widespread and its performance improves, it will likely have significant long-term consequences for jobs, inequality, organisations, and competition. Regulation may be used to address its risks and possibilities, but little is known about how AI-related regulation might affect firm behaviour. This column examines the impact of actual and potential AI regulations on business managers through a randomised online survey experiment. It finds that exposure to information about regulation decreases managers’ reported intent to adopt AI technologies in their firm’s business processes.

Tiziano Arduini, Alberto Bisin, Onur Ozgur, Eleonora Patacchini, 27 November 2019

Smoking and alcohol use are widespread among adolescents in the US and are linked to negative socioeconomic effects.While existing research has separately looked at the dynamic choice and the social interactions that shape adolescent risky behaviours, this column considers both components in a dynamic social interactions model. Looking at alcohol and smoking use in a school environment, it finds that addiction and peer effects are more than twice as important as the effect of individual preferences in shaping risky behaviour and that students take into account the amount of time they have left in the school system.

Michael Roach, Henry Sauermann, John D. Skrentny, 24 November 2019

The propensity of foreign STEM talent to found or join startups in the US is widely recognised but little understood. Using unique longitudinal data from over 5,600 STEM PhDs, this column reveals that during graduate school, foreign students exhibit more entrepreneurial personality traits and career preferences than their native peers. After graduation, however, they are less likely to found companies or work in startups. These results suggest that US immigration policies may deter newly minted PhDs from participating in entrepreneurship.

Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang, 23 November 2019

In the US, both taxes and social security benefits depend on one’s marital status and tend to discourage the labour supply of the secondary earner. Using information on US cohorts born in 1945 and 1955, this column shows that eliminating marriage-related provisions drastically increases the participation of married women over their entire life cycle and reduces the participation of married men after age 60. If the resulting government surplus were used to lower income taxation, there would be large welfare gains for the vast majority of the population.

Menzie Chinn, Hiro Ito, 21 November 2019

Global imbalances have reappeared, somewhat transformed, and relocated. Using data from developing and industrialised countries covering 1972-2016, this column shows that fiscal factors, rather than savings glut variables, have accounted for a noticeable share of the recent variation in imbalances, including in the US and Germany. The contribution of demographic factors is large for industrialised countries but not for emerging markets. Net official flows shape global imbalances in both developing and industrialised countries. 

Milena Djourelova, Ruben Durante, 17 November 2019

It is often suspected that politicians time announcements of controversial policies strategically to avoid public scrutiny. This column reports evidence from a systematic analysis of executive orders issued by US presidents, showing that their timing is consistent with strategic behaviour. Presidents tend to issue executive orders, and specifically ones that are likely to generate negative publicity, in coincidence with other important events that distract the media and the public.

Mark Harrison, 14 November 2019

Economic warfare was widely used in WWII. When one country blockaded another’s supply of essential goods or bombed the industries producing them, why did the adversary’s economy fail to collapse? This column, part of the Vox debate on the economics of WWII, reviews Mançur Olson’s insights, which arose from the elementary economic concept of substitution. He concluded that there are no essential goods; there are only essential uses, which can generally be supplied in many ways.

Tetsuji Okazaki, 13 November 2019

During World War II aircraft production in Japan increased sharply. This column, part of the Vox debate on the economics of WWII, examines the reasons for this ‘production miracle’, focusing on an aircraft manufacturing plant of Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Co., one of the two largest aircraft producers in Japan. The key to the production increase was the expansion of the supplier network. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries organized many suppliers to provide aircraft parts to its plants. However, in the final stage of the war, destruction of the supplier network by strategic bombing and an earthquake caused the collapse of the company’s aircraft production.

Price Fishback, 12 November 2019

The US became the ‘arsenal of democracy’ by producing a massive amount of military goods that raised real GDP by 72% between 1940 and 1945. Yet, multiplier estimates for this expansion in government spending are less than one. Long-range studies at subnational levels show that military spending was associated with small effects on per capita activity. Military spending in the context of a quasi-command economy crowded out private consumption and investment and forced people into the military. In essence, Americans sacrificed heavily to win the war, while their Allies sacrificed even more.  

Yuqing Xing, 11 November 2019

In order to pursue ‘fair trade’, the Trump administration has imposed a punitive 25% tariff on $250 billion’s worth of Chinese goods. However, conventional trade statistics greatly exaggerate the US trade deficit with China. This column uses the iPhone as an example to demonstrate how the trade deficit is inflated and why value-added should be used to assess the bilateral trade balance. If multinational enterprises, including Apple, shift part of their value chains out of China, China may no longer play a central role in global value chains targeting the US market. Depreciation of the yuan will be insufficient to counter the effect. 

Sergey Alexeev, 09 November 2019

Despite the extensive literature on intergenerational mobility, few studies have investigated the effects of non-monetary income from housing, or ‘imputed rent’, on intergenerational income mobility. This column demonstrates the significance of such an omission. Using national panel data sets for Australia, the US, and Germany, it finds that only Australia sees a noticeable reduction in mobility when imputed rent is accounted for in the measure of income. The findings challenge Australia’s basic claim of providing equality of opportunity. 

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