Margherita Borella, Mariacristina De Nardi, Fang Yang, Douglas Clement, 17 May 2019

Behind the headline economic growth in the US over the last five decades lie clear patterns of widening wealth inequality. This column shows that white, less-educated Americans born in the 1960s are worse off than the generation born 20 years previously, based on wage changes, increased medical costs, and shorter life expectancy. This disparity could be worth as much as $132,000.

Philipp Ager, Benedikt Herz, 16 May 2019

The transition from high to low fertility rates is regarded as one of the most important determinants of sustainable long-run growth. But despite its importance, there is still an ongoing debate about its causes and timing. This column demonstrates that a sustained shift from agriculture to manufacturing contributed to the fertility decline in the American South at the turn of the 20th century. 

Pascal Michaillat, Emmanuel Saez, 13 May 2019

Academics and policymakers alike have debated how to structure an optimal stimulus package since the Great Recession. This column revisits the arguments related to the size of the multiplier and the usefulness of public spending, and offers a blueprint for future stimulus packages. It finds that the relationship between the multiplier and stimulus spending is hump-shaped, and that a well-designed stimulus package should depend on the usefulness of public expenditure. The output multiplier is not a robust statistic to use, and instead the ‘unemployment multiplier’ should be used. 

Jeremy Bulow, 09 May 2019

Bank stress tests in the US were an important tool for bailing out banks in the Great Recession. As this column points out, however, because the tests use regulatory rather than market measures of asset values and risk they have almost nothing to do with whether a bank will be economically solvent under test conditions. This column argues that the thousands of pages of post-crisis bank regulation have largely ignored perhaps the two most needed reforms: measuring asset values and risks in an economically realistic way. Reforming the stress tests is necessary for clearly and credibly placing responsibility for future banking losses in the private sector and for improving incentives for both managing old risks and for investing in new ones. 

Nicholas W. Papageorge, Victor Ronda, Yu Zheng, 04 May 2019

Socio-emotional skills are generally believed to improve labour market outcomes. Using British and US longitudinal datasets, this column studies externalising behaviour – usually linked to aggression and hyperactivity – and internalising behaviour – linked to anxiety and depression – and how they relate to an individual’s earnings over the long term. It shows that for both genders, externalising behaviour lowers educational attainment but is associated with higher earnings.

Franck Portier, 03 May 2019

Business economists argue that the length of an expansion is a good indicator of when a recession will hit. Using both parametric and non-parametric measures, this column finds strong support for the theory from post-WWII data on the US economy. The findings suggest there is good reason to expect a US recession in the next two years.

Wolfram Schlenker, Charles Taylor, 02 May 2019

Understanding beliefs about climate change is important, but most of the measures used in the literature are unreliable. Instead, this column uses prices of financial products whose payouts are tied to future weather outcomes in the US. These market expectations correlate well with climate model outputs between 2002 and 2018 and observed weather data across eight US cities, and show significant warming trends. When money is at stake, agents are accurately anticipating warming trends in line with the scientific consensus of climate models.

Wilko Bolt, Kostas Mavromatis, Sweder Van Wijnbergen, 25 April 2019

Increasing protectionism will slow down world trade and may dampen global economic growth. This column examines the global macroeconomic consequences of a major trade conflict between the US and China, and shows that the two countries would be the biggest losers from a 10% ‘tit-for-tat’ trade war between them. As long as it does not get involved in the conflict, the euro area may temporally gain from trade diversion, as competitiveness improves and imports from regions whose exports are blocked elsewhere become cheaper.

Maggie R. Jones, 25 April 2019

Nearly 40% of documented new arrivals to the US in 2005 left within ten years, but who return migrates and why is often overlooked in policy debates regarding immigration. This column uses survey data and earnings records from 2005 to 2015 to show that a decline in earnings is a strong predictor of return migration. Those who stayed for the decade saw their wages reach parity with native-born workers, while those who left had seen a steep decline in wages in the years before departure. Further analysis shows that highly educated immigrants are more likely to leave the US within a decade of arrival.

Thiemo Fetzer, Carlo Schwarz, 23 April 2019

Tariff retaliation is widely believed to be politically motivated. This column presents evidence that retaliation against the Trump administration's tariff hikes seems to be systematically targeted against the Republican voter base. China appears to have been able to achieve a high degree of political targeting but likely harmed its own economy by targeting agricultural goods for which the US is a major supplier. The EU, on the other hand, appears to be more successful in navigating the trade-off. It also finds some evidence suggesting that Republican candidates fared worse in the mid-term elections in the US counties most exposed to retaliation.

Cecilia Bellora, Lionel Fontagné, 22 April 2019

Since 2018, the US administration has implemented several measures limiting free trade with China and other countries. Using cross-country data and a general equilibrium model, this column argues that a trade war hurts not only the targeted countries but also the country imposing the tariffs. Global value chains prompt countries to decrease tariffs when the domestic content of foreign-produced final goods and the imported content of domestic production of final goods are high. Once imposed, tariffs have an indirect effect on third sectors and countries through global value chains.

Thomas Blanchet, Lucas Chancel, Amory Gethin, 22 April 2019

Despite the growing importance of inequalities in policy debates, it is still difficult to compare inequality levels across European countries and to tell how European growth has been shared across income groups. This column draws on new evidence combining surveys, tax data, and national accounts to document a rise in income inequality in most European countries between 1980 and 2017. It finds that income disparities on the old continent have increased less than in the US and shows that this is essentially due to ‘predistribution’ policies.

David Laborde, William Martin, 18 April 2019

Raj Chetty, John Friedman, 18 April 2019

Using confidential data to publish statistics based on small samples is challenging due to privacy loss. This column introduces a simple method for dealing with this issue which adds noise to each statistic in proportion to its sensitivity to the addition or removal of a single observation from the data. The method generally outperforms widely used methods of disclosure limitation such as count-based cell suppression both in terms of privacy loss and statistical bias. As an illustration, the method is used to release estimates of social mobility by Census tract in the Opportunity Atlas. 

Mónica Correa-López, Beatriz de Blas, 23 April 2019

Since the end of WWII, advanced economies have experienced long-lasting swings in economic activity. This column takes a look at the historical data and finds that, over the medium term, output and investment fluctuations among European countries have been even more volatile and persistent than in the US. It also reveals that, by diffusing embodied technology through trade inintermediates, large US firms appear to drive Europe's output over the medium term. 

Eric Hanushek, Paul Peterson, Laura M. Talpey, Ludger Woessmann, 15 April 2019

For 50 years, anti-poverty government programmes in the US have focused on improving school outcomes for poor children. This column reports new evidence that, contrary to recent thinking that gaps in student achievement by socioeconomic status have increased over the years, the gaps have been essentially flat over the past half-century. New policies and new approaches seem called for if we wish to lessen these gaps.

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.

Alan Auerbach, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Daniel Murphy, 04 April 2019

The strength of fiscal multipliers and spillovers have been the subject of intense debate in recent years.Using data on US Department of Defense contracts and income and employment outcomes, this column finds evidence of  strong positive spillovers across locations and industries, although the geographical spillovers appear to dissipate fairly quickly with distance. Both backward linkages and general equilibrium effects contribute to the positive spillovers.

Thor Berger, Per Engzell, 28 March 2019

There are striking regional variations in economic opportunity across the US. This column proposes a historical explanation for this, showing that local levels of income equality and intergenerational mobility in the US resemble those of the European countries that current inhabitants trace their origins from. The findings point to the persistence of differences in local culture, norms, and institutions.

Bo Becker, Victoria Ivashina, 28 March 2019

In the past 30 years, defaults on corporate bonds in the US have been substantially above the historical average. Using firm-level data, this column shows that the increase in credit risk can be largely attributed to an increase in the rate at which new and fast-growing firms displace incumbents, a phenomenon defined as ‘disruption’. Incumbent revenue growth suffers when there are many IPOs in an industry, and newly issued bonds in high-disruption industries have higher yields.

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