Nicolas Ajzenman, Cevat Giray Aksoy, Sergei Guriev, 05 June 2020

The impact of the 2015 refugee crisis on sending and receiving societies has received significant scholarly attention. But there is little research on how the crisis affected ‘transit countries’ through which migrants travelled. This column studies 800 localities in 18 European countries to discover how local populations responded to the temporary presence of forced migrants. Data show that entrepreneurial activity of residents living closer to refugee routes fell considerably, and while anti-migrant sentiment increased in these areas, attitudes towards other minorities remained unchanged.

Helsinki Graduate School of Economics Situation Room, 21 May 2020

Effective management of the COVID-19 crisis requires real data in real time, often drawn from multiple sources. This column describes how researchers in Finland have created a remote-access ‘Situation Room’ that allows for real-time analysis of the Finnish economy, both for the government and for the wider public. The results from the study provide useful insights for policymakers in Finland and beyond.

Olivier Darmouni, Oliver Giesecke, Alexander Rodnyansky, 20 May 2020

The share of firms’ borrowing from bond markets has been rising globally. This column argues that euro area companies with more bond debt are disproportionately affected by surprise monetary shocks, compared to firms with mostly bank debt. This finding stands in contrast to the predictions of a standard bank lending channel and points toward frictions in bond financing. This provides lessons for the conduct of monetary policy in times of hardship such as COVID-19, when the corporate sector suffers from liquidity shortages.

Massimo Morelli, 08 May 2020

Political participation is an important, and often neglected, channel through which economic insecurity, reductions in trust, and changes in cultural attitudes all affect populism. This column argues both the demand for and supply of populism depend on mobilisation, and that populism can be seen as a mobilisation campaign strategy. While this framework explains the recent surge of populism, it also provides reasons to believe that the populism wave could be temporary. The column also discusses possible consequences of the Covid-19 crisis for populists in and out of power.

Erica Bosio, Simeon Djankov, 06 May 2020

With lockdown measures in place almost worldwide now, cash-flow represents a significant concern for firms across multiple sectors. It remains to be seen exactly which types of business will be able to weather the coming storm. This column estimates the survival time of nearly 7,000 firms in a dozen Southern European and emerging market economies. Under the assumptions that firms have no incoming revenues, the median survival time across industries ranges from 8 to 19 weeks. Once collapsed export demand is taken into account, the median survival time falls to between 8 and 14 weeks.

Rémi Jedwab, Noel Johnson, Mark Koyama, 02 May 2020

The Black Death was accompanied by violence against Europe's Jewish communities. But not all Jewish communities were persecuted. This column outlines two countervailing effects that can help explain this variation: a scapegoating effect – as the disease worsened, there was an incentive to blame the outgroup – and a complementarities effect – Jews performed important roles in the medieval economy and these services became more valuable in the wake of the plague. Together, these effects shed light on the conditions under which prejudice and violence against minorities can be exacerbated or limited.

Bary Pradelski, Miquel Oliu-Barton, 22 October 2020

On 13 October 2020, EU member states agreed to common criteria for mapping epidemiological risk and to implement non-discriminatory travel restrictions. The strategy agrees in its key aspects with the concept of green-zoning introduced in the original version of this column, which was published in April and circulated to European decision makers. It is based on four principles: (1) divide each country into smaller zones; (2) label zones green if the virus is under control, and red otherwise; (3) adopt colour-dependent public health measures; (4) allow free travel between green zones, but control other travel. This approach is aimed at curbing the spread of the virus while ensuring lasting economic recovery.

Stephen P. Ferris, Jan Hanousek, Jiri Tresl, 30 April 2020

Corporation corruption is an issue that remains at the forefront of regulatory policy. This column examines the persistence of corruption among a sample of privately held firms from 12 Central and Eastern European countries. Creating a proxy for corporate corruption based on a firm’s internal inefficiency, it is suggested that corruption can enhance a firm’s overall profitability. A channel analysis reveals that inflating staff costs is the most common approach by which firms divert funds to finance corruption. Corruption may persist simply because of its ability to improve a firm’s return on assets.

Zsoka Koczan, Alexander Plekhanov, 22 April 2020

While flexible labour markets normally facilitate economic adjustment during crises, recent Google search data suggest that the widespread Covid-19 lockdowns may impede this adjustment process. This column explores how labour market structures may determine how employment levels across middle-income countries are affected by the shock. The impending job and income losses are likely to be most severe where fewer people have permanent contracts, where many are self-employed, and where more people work for small firms and in retail. In the long term, these asymmetric impacts may further increase the demand for public-sector jobs.

Çağatay Bircan, Zsoka Koczan, Alexander Plekhanov, 21 April 2020

Small businesses, especially in retail and services sectors, which account for the vast majority of employment in the European region, have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 crisis. This column provides estimates of job displacement and surveys the policy measures taken by 38 emerging economies in Europe, Central Asia, and the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean in response to the economic disruptions. Given the predominance of small businesses in employment, job displacement rate in many of these economies is expected to reach 30%.  In the presence of constraints on fiscal measures and limited administrative capacity to disburse funding, second-best measures such as price control have been implemented widely.

Reshad N Ahsan, Laura Panza, Yong Song, 18 April 2020

While the relationship between trade and war is ambiguous, some argue that diminished trade can pose a threat to global peace by lowering both the opportunity costs of war and the cost of raising an army. This column examines the relationship between Atlantic trade and war in Europe between 1640 and 1896, a period in which intra-European conflict decreased dramatically. It finds that the growth in Atlantic trade lowered the probability of intra-European conflict by 15 percentage points.

Richard Baldwin, 01 April 2020

Richard Baldwin IHEID/CEPR explains why the lessons learned from SARS have informed Asian responses to Covid-19, while others have failed to heed those warnings and make adequate preparations for the unfolding pandemic.
Taken from the CEPR / RIETI webinar 'Economics in the time of Covid-19: The economic impact on Asia', held March 24 2020

Arnoud Boot, Elena Carletti, Rainer Haselmann, Hans‐Helmut Kotz, Jan Pieter Krahnen, Loriana Pelizzon, Stephen Schaefer, Marti Subrahmanyam, 24 March 2020

Iain Begg, David Miles, 10 January 2020

In 2020, the UK and the EU will try to strike a post-Brexit deal in financial services. At the SUERF conference in Amsterdam, David Miles and Iain Begg explain to Tim Phillips what's at stake in the negotiations, and who would suffer most if there's no deal.

Thomas Keywood, Jörg Baten, 07 December 2019

Due to their lower standards of living, Eastern and Central Eastern Europe are losing their young, well-educated and energetic population to the West. The scarcity of data that reach far enough back in time makes it challenging to explain the longstanding East–West differences. This column explores the relationship of economic development with human capital – specifically, elite numeracy – and violence. It concludes that the absence of violence played a significant role in economic development through elite numeracy formation.

Laurence Boone, Debora Revoltella, 06 December 2019

For the past two years, global growth outcomes and prospects have steadily deteriorated, while investment growth has collapsed. This is particularly the case in Europe. This column argues that reducing policy uncertainty, rethinking fiscal policy, and acting vigorously to address the challenges raised by digitalisation, climate change, and persistent inequalities all have the potential to reverse the current slippery trend and lift investment and living standards. 

Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Tobias Ketterer, 18 November 2019

Institutions are an important ingredient for economic growth. Using data from European regions for the period 1999-2013, this column shows that government quality matters for regional growth, and that relative improvements in the quality of government are a powerful driver of development. One-size-fits-all policies for lagging regions are not the solution. Government quality improvements are essential for low-growth regions, and in low-income regions, basic endowment shortages are still the main barrier to development. 

Cevat Giray Aksoy, Panu Poutvaara, 05 September 2019

About 1.4 million refugees and irregular migrants arrived in Europe in 2015 and 2016, but little is known about their socio-demographic characteristics and motivations. This column presents the first large-scale evidence on why those who crossed the Mediterranean in 2015 and 2016 had left their home countries. While the vast majority were escaping conflict, the main motivation for a significant number of migrants from countries such as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, and Pakistan was a desire to seek out better economic opportunities. People who are educated to secondary or tertiary level are more likely to migrate than people with lower levels of education, particularly when fleeing a major conflict, and these people are more likely to head for countries that have more comprehensive migrant integration policies.

Cormac Ó Gráda, 02 September 2019

Of WWII’s warring powers only the Soviet Union suffered mass starvation, but as this column, part of a Vox debate on the economics of WWII, describes, it is a measure of the war’s global reach that 20 to 25 million civilians died of hunger or hunger-related diseases outside Europe. In Britain effective rationing ensured a ‘fair’ distribution of food supplies throughout the war and in Germany the famine conditions experienced in 1918-19 were not replicated, but Japan was facing semi-starvation at war’s end. In Europe, apart from Greece and the Soviet Union, famine mortality was modest, but 3-5% of the populations of faraway Bengal, Henan, and Java perished. 

Gianmarco Ottaviano, 03 July 2019

Economic geography strikes back. After a couple of decades of easy talk about the ‘death of distance’ in the age of globalisation, the promise of a world of rising living standards for all is increasingly challenged by the resilience of regional disparities within countries. As long as many people and firms are not geographically mobile – and those who are tend to be the most skilled and productive – easier distant interactions can actually strengthen rather than weaken agglomeration economies. Recent electoral trends in Europe can be understood to a surprisingly large extent from this angle. 


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