Tuesday, 22 January 2013

another winner...

Jacopo Ponticelli is another UPF doctoral candidate on the job market... shooting all the lights out. We have had some spectacular successes in recent years, and I am very happy we have another winner. Jacopo works on the effects of financial reform on credit availability and firm productivity, looking at a natural experiment in Brazil. The abstract of this JMP is
Financial reform designed to improve creditor protection is often encouraged as a way to increase credit access for firms in developing countries. In this paper, I show that when court enforcement works poorly, financial reform is ineffective in fostering both credit access and the productivity of firms. In the empirical analysis, I exploit variation in the quality of court enforcement across Brazilian judicial districts and use a panel of manufacturing firms. I find that, after the introduction of a major pro-creditor bankruptcy reform, firms operating in districts with efficient court enforcement experienced substantially higher increase in capital investment and productivity than firms operating in districts with poor court enforcement. I provide evidence that this effect is due to a higher probability of external funds being used to finance investment in new technologies. To show that the results are not driven by district-level omitted variables, I use an IV strategy based on state laws establishing the geographical boundaries of judicial districts.
His fly-out list now includes Harvard BSchool, Stanford GSB, Berkeley, Princeton Econ, Chicago Booth (another flyout without an interview), Kellogg, Bocconi, LSE, Science Po. Of course, getting the fly-out is only half the job... fingers crossed. So far, I am thrilled. I am not his main advisor, but on the committee... and a co-author on a joint paper on the effects of austerity on social unrest and instability:
Does fiscal consolidation lead to social unrest? Using cross-country evidence for the period 1919 to 2008, we examine the extent to which societies become unstable after budget cuts. The results show a clear correlation between fiscal retrenchment and instability. We test if the relationship simply reflects economic downturns, and conclude that this is not the case. While autocracies and democracies show a broadly similar responses to budget cuts, countries with more constraints on the executive are less likely to see unrest after austerity measures. Growing media penetration does not strengthen the effect of cut-backs on the level of unrest.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Intermarriage and Intolerance

When is intermarriage a good measure of tolerance? That is the question that Nico Voigtländer and I are asking in our little paper prepared for the ASSA meetings in San Diego (forthcoming in the AER p+p issue this year). Here is part of our conclusion:

Remarkably, attitudes towards intermarriage are stable over more than half a century – in towns and cities where intermarriage rates between Jews and gentiles were high before 1939 because of positive attitudes among the German population, respondents today are much more comfortable with the idea of having a Jewish family member. In contrast, in places where out-marriage rates for Jews were high because the Jewish community was small, attitudes today are also sharply more critical today – not least because the local population was often more hostile, reducing the number of Jews in a location.  
... Only the part of the variation [of intermarriage rates] driven by attitudes directly is valuable in explaining cultural preferences. The share of the variation reflecting the “tightness” of the marriage market can confound the result; in extreme cases – such as Germany before 1939 – it may even induce an inverse correlation.

Human Capital during the IR

Fellow economic historian Karine van der Beek can be seen summarizing her research on human capital during the British IR in this video... clear and clever as always:

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

now forthcoming in the AER

is Nico Voigtländer's and my paper on the emergence of the European Marriage Pattern:

Europeans restricted their fertility long before the Demographic Transition. By raising the marriage age of women and ensuring that a substantial proportion remained celibate, the "European Marriage Pattern" (EMP) reduced childbirths by up to one third between the 14th and 18th century. In a Malthusian environment, this translated into lower population pressure, raising average wages significantly, which in turn facilitated industrialization. We analyze the rise of this first socio-economic institution in history that limited fertility through delayed marriage. Our model emphasizes changes in agricultural production following the Black Death in 1348-50. The land-intensive production of pastoral products increased in relative importance. Using detailed data from England after 1290, we show that women had a comparative advantage in livestock farming. They often worked as servants in husbandry, where they remained unmarried until their mid-twenties. Where pastoral agriculture dominated, marriage occurred markedly later. Overall, we estimate that pastoral farming raised female age at first marriage by more than 4 years.

who said...

that graduate supervision does not pay direct rewards? Of course, there is the enormous pleasure (and occasional pain) of directing a thesis, batting ideas back and forth, seeing a young mind blossom... and the best then go off to great jobs somewhere, become co-authors, etc. For the most part, these are the benefits for the faculty doing PhD supervision. A senior colleague of mine once suggested we should levy a 10% on the earnings of our grad students, to align incentives (he also suggested econ faculty should be traded like football teams, with the whole outfit moving from one university to the next). What he is pointing out, of course, is that  - like so much else in academia - we do a lot of work with our PhD students, for no immediate material benefit at all. Typically, graduate teaching and supervision don't count for the teaching requirement; there is no extra pay, etc. A warm thank you? Some reflected glory? Sure. But anything more tangible - no. So you can imagine my surprise (and delight) when a former PhD student of mine decided to treat his old advisor to an upgrade to first class, no less, on my trip to the AEA meetings in San Diego... thank you! The email notification just popped up in my inbox yesterday. Totally unexpected, and very much appreciated.