Pedro Carneiro, Italo Lopez Garcia, Kjell G. Salvanes, Emma Tominey, 24 January 2021

Parents’ income can affect a child’s earnings later in life but most empirical studies of intergenerational mobility collapse the childhood years into a single period. This column uses administrative data of all children born in Norway 1971–1980 to examine the relationship between adult outcomes of children and the timing of parental income over three periods of childhood: early (ages 0–5), middle (ages 6–11), and late (ages 12–17). Child success increases in households where parents’ income is higher in either early childhood or during adolescence. A balanced level of income across early childhood and adolescence may also improve the child’s success.

Gordon Dahl, Andreas Kotsadam, Dan-Olof Rooth, 17 January 2021

Despite women making up close to half of the labour force in most developed countries, occupational segregation remains high. One potential reason for this is gender stereotyping. This column uses an experiment conducted with Norwegian Army recruits to explore whether integration can change gender attitudes and related outcomes. It finds that intensive contact with female recruits during boot camp causes men to have more egalitarian attitudes in the short run but no effect on attitudes in the long term – perhaps because the duration of the experiment was relatively short compared to the overall military experience.

Roberto Iacono, Marco Ranaldi, 02 November 2020

The uneven distribution of wealth in society is commonly perceived as a matter of concern per se for inequality-averse policymakers. However, being wealth-poor or wealth-rich is also correlated with outcomes in the labour market. This column examines how wages and unemployment vary across the relative distribution of personal wealth in Norway, focusing on the wage-to-unemployment ratio across the different percentiles of the wealth distribution. It finds that wealth-poor individuals cannot escape low labour incomes regardless of the unemployment rate they face, while the unemployment elasticity of wages is substantially higher for wealth-rich individuals.

Hyejin Ku, Uta Schӧnberg, Ragnhild C. Schreiner, 15 February 2020

Previous research has told us little about whether place-based payroll tax incentives successfully boost employment. The column estimates their effect using a natural experiment in Norway, which was temporarily forced to abolish its place-based incentives. It finds that a rise in payroll taxes reduced employment. Downward wage rigidity meant that employers could not simply pass the tax increase on to workers.

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. 

Richard Friberg, Frode Steen, Simen Ulsaker, 02 July 2019

Consumers often travel to neighbouring countries to shop at cheaper prices. This column uses sales data from a Norwegian grocery chain to examine how cross-border shopping into Sweden responds to changes in relative prices. It shows that the response to price changes is highest at some distance from the border, where consumers respond by reconsidering whether or not to travel abroad for their shopping.

Bernt Bratsberg, Andreas Moxnes, Oddbjørn Raaum, Karen-Helene Ulltveit-Moe, 09 May 2019

In the aftermath of the eastern enlargement of the EU, Norway experienced one of the largest immigration shocks of the 21st century. This column uses data from the episode to examine the general equilibrium response of wages, labour costs, and industry employment to such shocks. One finding is that although real wages in some occupations decline, the aggregate welfare effects on natives are close to zero as natives switch to higher-wage occupations. The welfare effect on the existing population of immigrants, on the other hand, is negative as they have a comparative advantage in low-wage occupations.

Ricardo Perez-Truglia, 10 April 2019

Tax records became easily accessible online in Norway in 2001, allowing everyone in the country to observe the incomes of everyone else. This column offers evidence that people primarily went online to snoop on the incomes of friends, relatives, and other contacts. This game of income comparisons negatively affected the wellbeing of poorer Norwegians while at the same time boosting the self-esteem of the rich.

Manudeep Bhuller, Gordon Dahl, Katrine V. Løken, Magne Mogstad, 24 March 2019

Incarceration rates have tripled in the US and almost doubled in Western Europe over the past 50 years. This column uses data on the criminal behaviour and labour market outcomes of every Norwegian to show that in contrast to the US, where incarceration appears to encourage reoffending and damages labour prospects, the Norwegian prison system is successful in increasing participation in job training programmes, encouraging employment, and discouraging crime. It argues that Norway’s high rehabilitation expenditures are more than offset by the corresponding benefits to society.

Simon Wren-Lewis, 16 January 2019

Anna Aizer, Paul Devereux, Kjell G. Salvanes, 22 December 2018

It is well documented that children who are born to teenage mothers have worse outcomes in terms of health, education, and earnings. This column compares the outcomes for children of sisters in Norway to investigate the drivers of this. The results suggest that the ‘quality’ of the fathers explains as much of the difference in child outcomes as economic resources. Policies that consider the role that fathers play in teenage childbearing and its consequences may be more effective than those that consider mothers only.

Øystein Foros, Mai Nguyen-Ones, Frode Steen, 11 October 2018

Many markets exhibit saw-tooth pricing, with retailers regularly cutting and restoring prices. The column uses the discounting pattern of Norwegian gas stations, which uniformly raise prices on two days a week, to show the effect on consumer behaviour and firm profits. When more consumers spend effort on when to buy rather than where to buy, competition softens.

Jin Cao, Valeriya Dinger, 03 May 2018

The effectiveness of monetary policy in dictating banking activities is one of the keys to understanding how efficient monetary policy is in tuning the real economy. This column uses data on Norwegian banks to show that efficiency may be eroded by international financial flows in a small open economy. This raises several challenges for central banks and financial regulatory agencies in such economies.

Hans Hvide, Paul Oyer, 22 March 2018

The majority of male entrepreneurs in Norway start a firm in an industry closely related to the one in which their father is employed. These entrepreneurs outperform others in the same industry. This column uses longitudinal data to argue that 'dinner table human capital' – that is, industry knowledge learned through their parents – is an important factor. This form of capital also has effect on employee performance in the wider labour market.

Francesco Furlanetto, Ørjan Robstad, 10 December 2016

The macroeconomic effects of immigration are a hot topic, particularly during elections. Using immigration records from Norway, this column argues that an increase in immigration lowers unemployment (even for native workers) and has no negative effects on public finances. However, it identifies a negative effect on productivity that may be a worry for long-term growth.

Espen Henriksen, Knut Anton Mork, 18 October 2016

The ‘Oil Fund’, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, is the world’s largest at more than $850 billion. The economic gains from the establishment of the fund have come from applying core insights to improve the risk-return trade-off for the nation’s total wealth. This column presents the recommendations of a government-appointed committee for the strategy of the fund going forward that build on the same core principles.

Rune Fitjar, Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, 11 April 2016

Geographic proximity between innovating actors has been shown to facilitate knowledge transfers and spillovers. However, the degree to which these effects are driven by serendipitous encounters has yet to be examined. This column explores this issue for a sample of Norwegian firms. Of the relationships that help firms innovate, fewer than 10% are formed in purely casual circumstances. The results imply that knowledge isn’t so much ‘in the air’; transfers usually result from purposeful search.

Swati Dhingra, Thomas Sampson, 04 March 2016

In June, UK voters will decide whether to remain part of the EU. This column explores the UK’s options if a majority votes in favour of Brexit. One possibility is for the UK, like Norway, to join the European Economic Area and thereby retain access to the European Single Market. An alternative would be to negotiate bilateral treaties with the EU, as Switzerland has done. All options, however, involve a trade-off between political sovereignty and economic benefits.

Nauro Campos, Fabrizio Coricelli, Luigi Moretti, 19 June 2015

The imminence of the British referendum lays the European integration project at a crossroads. One tabled policy proposal is to offer different membership options – shallow integration (economic only) and deep integration (economic and political). This column presents new evidence comparing these two options. Focusing on Norway, a country that is economically but not politically associated with the EU, deep integration is estimated to bring a 6% productivity gain in the first five years, compared with shallow integration. These findings bring new economic arguments to debates about EU integration and membership.

Samuel Wills, Rick van der Ploeg, Ton van den Bremer, 10 October 2014

Norway’s sovereign wealth fund is the largest in the world. As such, it has prompted discussions about its design. This column argues that one flaw in the fund is that it doesn’t consider oil reserves beneath the ground. Changing the equity/bond mix and the spending rule could lead to significant welfare improvements.

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