Morgan Kelly, Cormac Ó Gráda, 18 August 2018

Little is known about migration to cities in the era before railways. The column uses data on the origins of women arrested for prostitution in Paris in the 1760s, women registered as prostitutes in the 1830s and 1850s, men holding identity cards during the French Revolution, as well as everyone buried in 1833 to examine patterns of migration. Migration was highest from areas with high living standards, and the impact of distance fell as transport improved. Distance was a stronger deterrent to females than to males, consistent with more limited employment opportunities for women.

Janet Currie, Hannes Schwandt, Josselin Thuilliez, 10 August 2018

Understanding how inequalities in health are related to inequalities in income is a key issue for policymakers. This column describes how despite increasing income inequality in both countries, the development of mortality has been very different in France compared with the US. The findings show that inequalities in income and health do not necessarily move in tandem, and highlight how public policy helps to break this link. 

Pierre Cahuc, Francis Kramarz, Sandra Nevoux, 16 July 2018

Short-time work programmes aim to preserve jobs at firms that are experiencing temporarily low revenues, for example during a recession. This column assesses how the short-time work programme implemented in France during the Great Recession affected employment. Results confirm that the programme saved jobs and increased hours worked, and that participating firms recovered faster than non-participating firms. 

Ashoka Mody, 25 April 2018

Since Emmanuel Macron’s election as French president in May 2017, hope has lingered that a mythical friendship between France and Germany will help complete the gaps in the euro area architecture. As this column discusses, however, history provides no basis for such an expectation. National interests, always central to the decision calculus, have diverged even further. French leaders have a pressing task at hand: they need to rejuvenate their own economy and build domestic social cohesion. This may take a generation or more. 

Pauline Charnoz, Claire Lelarge, Corentin Trevien, 22 April 2018

Research has shown that lower communication costs can act as a centralising force, prompting workers tend to rely more on the help of others and to specialise on a narrower set of tasks. This column reveals how reduced travel times resulting from a new high-speed rail transport in France fostered functional specialisation across different units of firms and greater centralisation. The findings highlight the mechanisms determining the level and distribution of productivity in an economy, and their redistributive impact both between and within firms

Nicoletta Berardi, Patrick Sevestre, 13 March 2018

Identical products are often sold at different prices at different times and in different shops. This column uses data from 1,000 products across more than 1,500 stores to argue that, in France at least, consumers are in a relatively good position to decide where to go shopping. Expensive and cheap stores tend to be persistently expensive or cheap over time and across the products they most commonly sell, and the retail chain to which a store belongs is a good indicator of its expensiveness.

Pierre Cahuc, Stéphane Carcillo, Thomas Le Barbanchon, 09 January 2018

Despite their widespread use in the US and across Europe during the Global Crisis, the empirical evidence on the effectiveness of hiring credits is unclear, particularly in the context of recessions. This column uses the French hiring credit programme of 2008-09 to show that credits can be very effective at boosting job creation at low cost when they are unanticipated and temporary.

Julia Cagé, 23 December 2017

Conventional wisdom holds that more media competition makes citizens more informed, and that it improves the functioning of democracies. This column tests this claim using data on local newspaper circulation in France. It finds that increased media competition leads to business stealing and to a decrease in the coverage of public affairs news by local newspapers. It also has a negative impact on local election turnout. While competition is key to the quality of the media environment, the results highlight that more media competition is not necessarily socially efficient.

Youssef Benzarti, Dorian Carloni, 13 November 2017

In the wake of the Global Crisis, some governments sought to stimulate demand through VAT cuts. This column assesses the success of these measures by investigating who benefited from a VAT cut on sit-down restaurant meals in France. The results show that restaurant owners captured the lions’ share of the tax cut, while employees and consumers benefited substantially less. Further, following subsequent tax increases, restaurant owners increased their prices by four to five times more than they had decreased their prices following the original cut.

Pierre Cahuc, Sandra Nevoux, 14 September 2017

Short-time work reduces job destruction by subsidising firms to reduce hours of work and provide earnings support to workers facing lower hours. Since 2008, firms in France that stand to benefit have lobbied successfully to expand the programme massively. This column argues that the expansion primarily benefited large firms using short-time work recurrently to deal with seasonal fluctuations. Making employers contribute to the cost of short-time work would make the policy more efficient.

Laurent Gobillon, Carine Milcent, 21 July 2017

It is widely believed that the goal of keeping health expenditures under control while increasing the quality of the healthcare system can best be achieved by giving a greater role to market forces. This column evaluates the effect of a pro-competition reform implemented in France over 2004-2008 on hospital quality. It finds that the impact on quality depends on the managerial autonomy of hospitals. And due to the French healthcare market structure, the overall effect of the reform has been limited.

Pierre Cahuc, Stéphane Carcillo, Andreea Minea, 08 July 2017

Despite the substantial costs associated with subsidised employment programmes targeting low-skilled youths, little is known about their effectiveness in easing school-to-work transitions. This column evaluates the effectiveness of such programmes for high-school dropouts in France with various types of labour market experience. Work experience, even in the market sector, is not always sufficient to increase the chance of very low-skilled youths being called for interview by an employer, suggesting that measures such as temporary jobs in the non-market sector or hiring subsidies in the market sector should be conditional on getting a certification of skills at the end of the employment period, at least for previously unskilled youths.

Thomas Le Barbanchon, Roland Rathelot, Alexandra Roulet, 27 June 2017

The generosity of unemployment insurance can influence the time and energy job seekers dedicate to searching for a job, as well as the jobs they are willing to accept. Yet we know little about how unemployment insurance affects the reservation wages of the unemployed. Using new French data, this column shows that increasing unemployment generosity does not affect the reservation wages or the ‘pickiness’ of job seekers.

Roberto De Santis, 16 March 2017

French sovereign spreads have risen in recent months, coinciding with debate over the euro ahead of the country’s presidential elections in May. Italian sovereign spreads have been rising since the beginning of 2016. This column argues that investors are not pricing a break-up of France from the Eurozone. Most likely, they are pricing the possibility that the newly elected French government will not have enough supremacy to undertake important economic reforms. Market perception of redenomination risk in Italy, on the other hand, is rising slowly. 

Cristina Mitaritonna, Gianluca Orefice, Giovanni Peri, 03 March 2017

Despite numerous studies exploring how immigration affects local labour markets, there is limited evidence on the impact of immigrants on firms’ productivity levels. Using detailed, firm-level data from France, this column explores how firms react to an increase in the supply of immigrant workers. Provinces with a large increase in immigrant supply experienced higher productivity growth, especially among firms that were initially less productive. This suggests immigration can promote convergence in firm size and productivity levels. 

Pierre Cahuc, Olivier Charlot, Franck Malherbet, Hélène Benghalem, Emeline Limon, 05 January 2017

Temporary job contracts account for a substantial proportion of the workforce in countries such as France and Spain, but they can result in high job turnover and instability. This column assesses the impact of government policies that impose taxes on temporary contracts to induce employers to lengthen job durations. Such policies a negative impact on the labour market, reducing the mean duration of jobs and decreasing job creation. The introduction of open-ended contracts with no termination cost for separations occurring at short tenure may be more effective.

Lionel Fontagné, Gianluca Orefice, 18 December 2016

Regulation is a barrier to trade. This column uses French firm-level panel data to assess how technical barriers to trade impact firms’ exports. In the presence of stringent barriers, exporters balance the cost of complying with this regulation against the fixed cost of entering a new market. Barriers reduce the number of exporting firms in each sector-destination, especially in sectors with many multi-destination firms.

Laurence Boone, Ano Kuhanathan, 12 December 2016

A recent Vox eBook examined the potential issues facing various EU members when it comes to negotiating with the UK over Brexit. This column, taken from the ebook, suggests that France is likely to seek to include the UK in a comprehensive free trade zone to maintain easy access to the UK markets, but with a view to safeguarding its own competitiveness.

James Harrigan, Ariell Reshef, Farid Toubal, 06 July 2016

Job polarisation has been documented in many large developed economies over the past two decades. This column shows how the growth of ICT has contributed to these trends. Using French firm-level data, it documents the declining share of middle-wage jobs, and identifies an increase in the share of technology-related jobs as an important contributing factor. Firms with more ‘techies’ are also found to grow faster than less techie-intensive firms.

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