Francis Kramarz, Julien Martin, Isabelle Mejean, 11 December 2019

Economists continue to disagree about whether international trade exacerbates or diminishes volatility. This column presents firm-level evidence from French exporters and their European trading partners over 15 years to show that firm-level volatility increases individual-level and aggregate-level volatility. High concentration among buyers as well as suppliers can amplify these shocks.

Declan Costello, Annika Eriksgård Melander, Martin Hallet, 22 November 2019

Over the past ten years there has been a substantial rise in income per capita differences between Germany and France.However, it is not a given that the German economy will continue to outperform the French one, and indeed the picture has changed during 2019. This column argues that structural divergences between member states in the euro area contributed to nominal and real divergences, and suggests what can be done to foster convergence between the two countries. 

Joan Costa-i-Font, Belén Sáenz de Miera, 20 October 2019

Changes in working hours and the associated time and energy consumed during work can exert an important influence on people’s fitness. However, the effects of such changes on health behaviour and obesity are not well understood. This column examines the effects of a 2001 French national reform that reduced working hours on employee obesity and overweight. Although reduced working times could, in theory, be used for health-promoting activities, in practice it had different effects on white- and blue-collar workers. Policies to reduce working hours alone do not necessarily produce better fitness for everyone.

Yasmine Bekkouche, Julia Cagé, 14 September 2019

There is growing concern that money has corrupted politics. This column uses data from French elections since 1993 to show that an increase in spending per voter has consistently increased a candidate’s vote share. Caps on spending may increase this impact, as marginal effects are large. The price of a vote varies widely, and is most expensive for the extreme right. 

Mara Squicciarini, 18 August 2019

Religion has had a complex relationship with technological progress throughout history, but there is scant empirical evidence on how conservative religious values may have affected the spread of new ideas and, by extension, economic development. This column examines the influence of the Catholic Church on technical education in France during the Second Industrial Revolution. It finds that areas with higher ‘religiosity’ had lower levels of industrial and economic development, suggesting that conservative religion can hamper economic development when it prevents primary schools from adopting technical education.

Laurence Boone, 26 July 2019

France has surprisingly low social mobility. OECD chief economist Laurence Boone tells Tim Phillips why this is the case, how the problem fuels the gilets jaunes protests, and what can be done about it.

Agnès Bénassy-Quéré, Olivier Blanchard, Laurence Boone, Gilbert Cette, Chiara Criscuolo, Anne Epaulard, Sébastien Jean, Margaret Kyle, Philippe Martin, Xavier Ragot, Alexandra Roulet, David Thesmar, 24 July 2019

In September 2016, the European Council invited all euro area members to set up a National Productivity Board to focus on productivity and competitiveness. This column summarises the main findings of the first report of the Conseil National de Productivité, which analyses the causes of the French productivity slowdown that are common to other OECD countries and those that are specific to France. It also proposes a definition of competitiveness that should be useful for euro area macroeconomic policy debates and explains why current account imbalances in the euro area are both a sign of deficient adjustment mechanisms and a cause of concern.

Pierre Cahuc, Franck Malherbet, Julien Prat, 11 June 2019

Standard economic models predict that employment protection legislation reduces both job destruction and job creation, with the negative impact on job creation caused by the anticipation of separation costs. This column shows that in France, this anticipation effect not only plays a key role in reducing job creation but also increases job destruction among low-skilled workers, an effect that is amplified by the presence of the minimum wage. This mechanism implies that job protection is strongly detrimental to employment in the French context.

Clémence Berson, Morgane Laouénan, Emmanuel Valat, 27 April 2019

Hiring discrimination against ethnic minorities remains an important issue in most industrialised countries, but few tools have proven their effectiveness in fighting this discrimination. Based on an original correspondence study in France, this column argues that the organisation of recruitment has a large impact on discrimination.The findings suggest that companies that centralise HR practices across establishments are less likely to discriminate against minority ethnic applicants in the first round of selection.

Al Slivinski, Nathan Sussman, 20 March 2019

The problem of tax compliance is as old as the levying of taxes. Innovations in tax administration that induce high compliance rates at reasonable cost are extremely important to governments. This column demonstrates how the taille, a tax collection mechanism from medieval Paris, raised compliance by turning the social cost of tax evasion into a private one. It offers a tax collection model that is still relevant to governments today.

Laurence Boone, Antoine Goujard, 04 March 2019

The ‘yellow vest’ demonstrations in France appear, at least in part, to be another example of the anti-globalisation sentiment that has emerged in a number of OECD countries. This column argues that the movement is also rooted in the country’s broken social elevator. Redistribution through taxes and social transfers is not sufficient to curb the inequality in opportunity, which is mostly linked to the educational system and perpetuates economic and social situations from one generation to the next.

Daniel Hamermesh, Jeff Biddle, 26 January 2019

People combine goods and time in household production, and theory suggests that as their wage rates rise, they will substitute goods-intensive for time-intensive activities. However, it is not clear how activities that take essentially no, or minimal, amounts of spending, such as sleeping or watching TV, fit into the theory. This column uses data from time diaries for the US, France, and Germany to demonstrate that not all non-work time is the same, and different components of non-work time respond differently to changing incentives.

Thomas Le Barbanchon, Julien Sauvagnat, 08 December 2018

Despite many efforts to close the gender gap, women remain underrepresented in politics. This column shows that in the case of France, voters’ preferences towards gender shapes political selection and ultimately the gender composition of elected politicians. This suggests that gender parity in policymaking relies on improving the slow-changing attitudes of voters towards male and female political candidates.

Patrice Baubeau, Eric Monnet, Angelo Riva, Stefano Ungaro, 29 November 2018

Previous research has downplayed the role of banking panics and financial factors in the French Great Depression. This column uses a newly assembled dataset of balance sheets for more than 400 French banks from the interwar period to challenge this long-held idea. The empirical results show two dramatic waves of panic in 1930 and 1931, and point to a flight-to-safety mechanism. The findings illustrate how minor macroeconomic assumptions and extrapolations on monetary statistics can introduce large, persistent biases in historiography.

Guillaume Vuillemey, 17 November 2018

A key function of financial markets is to share risks, and thus to mitigate the transmission of shocks to the real economy. This column analyses one historical setup in which risk-sharing possibilities in financial markets suddenly increased – the creation of the first central clearing counterparty in 1882 in France in the market for coffee futures. The ability to better hedge coffee prices had real effects and increased trade flows Europe-wide. 

Peter Egger, Nora Strecker, Benedikt Zoller-Rydzek, 24 September 2018

The OECD estimates that more than $100 billon is lost each year to tax avoidance by MNEs. One way that firms do this is by using their size and mobility to bargain for tax breaks. This column uses French data to identify the nature of such bargaining. It finds that the scale of the projected tax payment accounts for 41% of the tax break, and a credible threat to relocate accounts for the rest.

Bertrand Garbinti, Jonathan Goupille-Lebret, Thomas Piketty, 05 September 2018

France is often considered to be an equalitarian country with a low level of inequality. Of course, this is true when compared to the United States, where inequality has skyrocketed recently. But the fact remains that France has also experienced a sharp rise in inequality. This column combines data from different sources to construct distributional national accounts and show the limits of the French myth of egalitarianism.

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. 

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