Margherita Russo, Claudia Cardinale Ciccotti, Fabrizio De Alexandris, Antonela Gjinaj, Giovanni Romaniello, Antonio Scatorchia, Giorgio Terranova, 02 August 2021

Many countries turned to use contact-tracing apps to help control the spread of COVID-19. Despite public policy efforts, however, tracking apps have not been a success because of public concerns over data privacy. This column compares nine countries to explore the conditions behind the successful use of digital technologies and AI for public purposes. Individuals give over personal data to internet companies but are wary of sharing their data for the public interest. Citizen trust in public interventions and commitment to social goals need to be nurtured in normal times to be effective in emergencies.

Laurent Ferrara, Valérie Mignon, 17 July 2021

Identifying the peaks and troughs of recessionary episodes helps economists to understand the conditions surrounding crises. But deciding when a recession starts or finishes is not straightforward, and several methods exist. This column presents the dating specification for the French Business Cycle Dating Committee, describing how the group identifies key phases in France’s economic performance based on a quantitative and a qualitative pillar. The committee has dated the peak of the recession linked to the recent Covid-19 pandemic to the last quarter of 2019, it is still too early to identify the exit date of this recession, which is unprecedented in its source and profile. 

Pierre Cahuc, Francis Kramarz, Sandra Nevoux, 26 May 2021

The Covid-19 crisis transformed short-time work into the first choice of policymakers across Europe. But this newfound enthusiasm should not obscure the dearth of studies addressing short-time work’s long-term consequences. Using detailed data covering the universe of French firms during the 2008-2009 Great Recession, this column finds that short-time work saved jobs in firms hit by powerful negative revenue shocks, but not in firms hit less severely. Still, short-time work remains a more cost-efficient way than wage subsidies to save jobs. 

Christian Gollier, 13 April 2021

Christian Gollier talks to Tim Phillips about vaccine rollout with regard to France, where modelling suggests a doubling of the speed of vaccination achieved in March could reduce deaths in 2021 by a third, while the presence of senior anti-vaxxers may imply around 5,000 additional deaths among the senior pro-vaxxer population (based on 30% of the population refusing the vaccine). Vaccine nationalism is estimated to increase the global death toll by 20%.

You can download the paper here: Gollier, C (2021), “The welfare cost of vaccine misallocation, delays and nationalism”, Covid Economics 74: 1-24 https://cepr.online/CE74

Christian Gollier, 09 April 2021

The slow development of the vaccination campaign in continental Europe raises critical questions around who should be prioritised in the roll-out, the welfare costs of a delay, and the impact of ‘anti-vaxxers’ and vaccine nationalism. This column uses an age-structured SIR model to addresses these issues with a focus on France. A doubling of the speed of vaccination France achieved in March could reduce deaths in 2021 by a third, while the presence of senior anti-vaxxers may imply around 5,000 additional deaths among the senior pro-vaxxer population (based on 30% of the population refusing the vaccine). Vaccine nationalism is estimated to increase the global death toll by 20%.  

Hélène Benghalem, Pierre Cahuc, Pierre Villedieu, 05 April 2021

The rise of alternative work arrangements – from temporary and part-time work to self-employment and online gig-economy jobs – has increased the take-up of part-time unemployment benefits in several countries. This column presents the results of a large experiment among recipients of unemployment-benefits insurance in France. It shows that increasing part-time unemployment benefits raises the propensity to work in non-regular jobs, but also extends the duration of compensated unemployment and unemployment insurance expenditure, suggesting that the lock-in effects of compensated unemployment associated with part-time benefits require precise evaluation.

Emanuel Moench, Loriana Pelizzon, Michael Schneider, 23 March 2021

In March 2020, a ‘dash for cash’ driven by the Covid-19 crisis affected the liquidity of the US Treasury bonds market as well as numerous other financial markets around the globe. This column investigates how euro area sovereign bond markets fared during the same period. While deteriorations in sovereign debt market liquidity are evident, these appear to be driven by a ‘dash for collateral’ in euro-denominated safe assets. This suggests some differences from the US experience, as well as variations across European countries. 

Matthieu Crozet, Julian Hinz, Amrei Stammann, Joschka Wanner, 05 March 2021

Sanctions are imposed on a target country to exert political and economic pressure. But there is little evidence on how exporting firms regard trade with the sanctioned country. This column uses detailed monthly customs data from French firms to investigate the extensive margin of trade in episodes of sanctions-use against Iran, Russia, Cuba, and Myanmar. It finds the impact of sanctions is heterogeneous along firm dimensions and advises caution in the use of a policy tool with imprecise and unpredictable results.

Philippe Aghion, Antonin Bergeaud, John Van Reenen, 01 February 2021

While there is suggestive evidence that regulations may have a stifling effect on innovation, there is as yet no rigorous economic framework to quantify the magnitude of such regulatory effects on innovation and the aggregate economy. This column proposes such a framework tests its implications on data from France. As the framework predicts, regulations do indeed hamper innovation, but the negative effects concern only incremental innovations and are absent for radical innovations.  Overall, regulations are estimated to reduce aggregate innovations by 5%. 

Julia Cagé, Anna Dagorret, Pauline Grosjean, Saumitra Jha, 17 January 2021

The events at the US Capitol earlier this month echo important moments in history where rioters protesting the state include former veterans and political heroes. This column uses novel evidence on extreme right-wing supporters and Nazi collaborators in France to show how democratic values can be undermined by exogenous networks of influential individuals, including military heroes. Heroes are specially positioned to widen the ‘Overton window’ and legitimise views previously considered deeply repugnant. Social networks of individuals sharing such an identity can transmit and reinforce this influence, leading to escalating commitments that entrench political positions and make debiasing more difficult.

Julian di Giovanni, Andrei Levchenko, Isabelle Mejean, 14 December 2020

Superstar firms have recently been linked to phenomena such as top income inequality, comparative advantage in trade, and the fall in the labour share. Another important feature of superstar firms is their international trade linkages. This column studies how susceptible an economy with few large firms which account for the majority of imports and exports is to international business cycle shocks.  It finds that at the micro level, such larger firms respond more strongly to foreign shocks than smaller firms. At the macro level, this heterogeneity dampens the domestic GDP response to a foreign shock. 

Adrien Matray, 05 December 2020

Academic research has so far had little to say on the impact of an increase in payout taxes on firm behaviour and the allocation of capital across firms. Using French administrative tax files that cover the universe of firms, this column tracks firm outcomes over the period 2008–2017 and estimates the effect of a steep increase in the dividend tax rate in 2013. It finds that the tax reform led to increased investment and cash holding, improved allocation of capital, and no discernible reduction in investment even among equity-dependent firms.

Antoine Bozio, Bertrand Garbinti, Jonathan Goupille-Lebret, Malka Guillot, Thomas Piketty, 18 November 2020

How much can redistribution policies account for long-run changes in inequality? This column reveals that the reduction of inequality implied by redistribution is significant in France and the US and increased throughout the entire 20th century, but pre-tax income inequality appears to be the main factor accounting for the differential levels and trends in the two countries. These findings suggest that policy discussions on inequality should pay more attention to policies affecting pre-tax inequality and should not focus exclusively on redistribution.

Pierre Cahuc, Stéphane Carcillo, Bérengère Patault, Flavien Moreau, 08 November 2020

Businesses often worry about unpredictable outcomes and an alleged pro-worker bias among judges when they go to labour courts. This column uses information from around 145,000 decisions made by French appeals courts over the period 2006-2016 to examine the impact of labour court judge bias on the economic performance of firms. The findings suggest that some judges are more pro-worker than others, and that this bias matters for small, low-performing firms, but not for other firms.

Tommaso Giommoni, Gabriel Loumeau, 19 October 2020

During the COVID-19 outbreak many countries responded with the introduction of social containment measures, but the effects of these ‘lockdown’ policies are unclear. This column examines the electoral impact of the lockdown in France. Focusing on differential restriction measures implemented across French departments, it looks at voting behaviour in the pre-lockdown first round of municipal elections and in the second round after lockdown was implemented. Lockdown regulations appear to have significantly affected electoral outcomes, with higher vote shares for the incumbent and higher voter turnout in localities under harder restrictions.

Marc Ivaldi, Emil Palikot, 16 October 2020

Sharing a ride with a stranger during a pandemic involves a health hazard. This column studies whether drivers price such risks, and how perceived risks shape attitudes towards ethnic minorities. Using data collected from a ridesharing platform in France, it finds a correlation between geographical variation in the intensity of Covid-19 outbreaks, the use of ridesharing, and the level of prices. The data also show a simultaneous increase in the number of ethnic minority passengers and signs of discrimination against passengers from minority communities.

Brian Nolan, Juan C. Palomino, Philippe Van Kerm, Salvatore Morelli, 19 September 2020

Whether and how much intergenerational transfers contribute to wealth inequality is still subject to debate. This column analyses household survey data on inheritance and gifts inter vivos in France, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and the US to relate current household wealth levels and inequality to the receipt of intergenerational wealth transfers. In these countries, large transfers increase overall wealth inequality. Strengthening taxation capacity and instating lifetime capital acquisitions tax for gifts and inheritances may help counter the dis-equalising effect of intergenerational transfers.

Sebastian Blesse, Massimo Bordignon, Pierre C Boyer, Piergiorgio Carapella, Friedrich Heinemann, Eckhard Janeba, Anasuya Raj, 18 August 2020

The ongoing Covid-19 crisis has the potential to change the institutional design of the European Union (EU). This column analyses survey data asking parliamentarians from France, Italy, and Germany about their stances on a broad range of reform issues covering fiscal and monetary policies as well as EU governance mechanisms. It finds that in general, party membership is quantitatively more important than nationality in determining political stances. Further, while national parliaments still differ on many policies, a broader consensus emerges for reforms on EU institutions such as providing the EU parliament with the right of proposing new legislation.

Cecile Gaubert, Oleg Itskhoki, 14 August 2020

Large firms play a pivotal role in international trade, shaping, at least in parts, the export patterns of their home countries This column studies the role of such individual superstar firms and their specific know-how and managerial talent in determining a country’s comparative advantage. Guided by a framework it finds that in France, sectors with more superstar firms export more compared to average sectors. The contribution of superstar firms to exports is particularly pronounced in the most export-intensive sectors. However, over the medium to long run, exports of such sectors tend to fall faster and reverse to the mean.

Marc Ivaldi, Jiekai Zhang, 10 August 2020

Television channels face a trade-off between the quality service (and number of viewers) and the revenue generated by advertisements. The market is said to be two-sided, with TV channels providing a platform through which advertisers and consumers are brought together during commercial breaks. This column examines the effects of the merge between two digital TV channels in France, and the regulatory intervention, on the quality of programming for viewers and the availability and cost of advertising space for commercial advertisers. 

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