The IRES Lunch Seminar is an informal forum where researchers present their work in progress in details and receive criticism and feedback from colleagues. Presentations on the blackboard are also welcome. PhD students entering the job market this year are strongly encouraged to present their job market paper.
The Macro Group provides sandwiches. Whether you would like a sandwich or not, please register by the Friday before the meeting at :
- Elsa Leromain
- Gonzague Vannoorenberghe
The novelty of the term is the ‘hybrid’ format of the seminar. You are highly encouraged to attend the seminar in person on campus, but under the current circumstances attendance is limited
. Please register
on the doodle using this link: https://doodle.com/poll/nr58uwf9nfiy2egw
You can also follow the IRES Lunch Seminar via this link on Teams. For non-UCLouvain participants, please email the organizers if you wish to participate.
Doyen 22 OR More 56 OR CORE B-135. Please check the location on each event.
12:50 to 14:00
Programme - 2020 -2021
22 David de la Croix More 56
The Academic Market and the Rise of Universities in Medieval and Early Modern Europe (1000-1800)
We argue that market forces shaped the geographic distribution of upper-tail human capital across Europe during the Middle Ages, and contributed to bolstering universities at the dawn of the Humanistic and Scientific Revolutions. We build a unique database of thousands of scholars from university sources covering all of Europe, construct an index of their ability, and map the academic market in the medieval and early modern periods. We show that scholars tended to concentrate in the best universities (agglomeration), that better scholars were more sensitive to the quality of the university (positive sorting) and migrated over greater distances (positive selection). Agglomeration, selection and sorting patterns testify to a functioning academic market, made possible by political fragmentation and the use of a common language (Latin).
29 Fabio Blasutto (IRES) CORE B-135
The Rise of Cohabitation and Unilateral Divorce
This paper analyzes the role of unilateral divorce for the rise of cohabitation. Exploiting the staggered introduction of unilateral divorce across the US states, we show that after the reform singles become more likely to cohabit than to marry, and that newly formed cohabitations last longer. We then provide a theoretical rationale for these facts, building a life-cycle model with partnership choice, female labor force participation and saving decisions. A structural estimation of the model suggests that unilateral divorce decreases couples' stability, which makes cohabitation preferred to couples that would have been at high risk of divorce. Since cohabiting couples formed after the reform are better matched, the average length of cohabitations increases. A counterfactual experiment reveals that the time spent cohabiting would have been halved if divorce laws had never changed.
Joint with Egor Kozlov (Northwestern University)
13 Charles de Beauffort (IRES) Doyens 22
Minding One's Own Business: Optimal Time-Consistent Fiscal and Monetary Policy in a Liquidity Trap when Coordination is Lacking"
27 Samia Ferhat
The impact of university openings on human capital formation
This paper presents new evidence on the impact of university openings on the acquisition of human capital by the local youth in France. We exploit seven university openings between 1991-1993 in counties where no previous universities existed that we combine with five waves from representative outflow samples of young individuals leaving the French educational system at the end of their studies.
We take advantage of specific control groups to compute differences-in-differences estimates that are robust to displacement, spillover and substitution effects. Our DiD outflow estimator identifies the underlying and policy relevant inflow treatment effect on birth cohorts under mild conditions that are consistent with the data. We find that opening a new university increases significantly the probability of attaining at least a two-year post-secondary degree by about 10 percentage points in counties that are initially undereducated compared to the rest of France. Conversely, university creations which occur in relatively educated counties does not have a significant impact on the acquisition of human capital. We argue in favour of a catchup effect, in which university openings help undereducated counties to converge to the average level of higher education in a given country.
03 Nippe Lagerlöf (York University) CANCELLED
10 Sébastien Fontenay (ULB)
The Unintended Consequences of Maternity Leave Allowance on Fertility and Career Decisions
I examine the impact of maternity leave allowance generosity on first-time mothers' subsequent fertility and career. Identification is based on a Regression Kink Design (RKD). I exploit a discontinuity in the benefit formula, which results in a lower replacement rate for women with pre-leave earnings above the maximum threshold. Using a rich set of administrative data on Belgian mothers from 2002 to 2016, I estimate that for each additional euro in daily allowance the probability of having a second child increases by 0.8 percentage point. Subsequently, I explore the consequences on their career and show that the probability of remaining in the labor force declines with the level of benefits. Heterogeneity analysis suggests that maternity leave allowance affects positively the fertility of all women, but the negative consequences on employment are concentrated on those who used to earn less than their partner before entering motherhood. No symmetric effect is found on the partner when the mother was the main breadwinner prior to having children.
17 Jean-François Maystadt (IRES)
The Gravity of Distance : Evidence from a Trade Embargo (with Afnan Al-Malk and Maurizio Zanardi)
On June 5, 2017, an airspace blockade has been imposed on the state of Qatar by four of its neighbours: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, and Egypt. In this paper, we exploit the exogenous increase in air transportation cost to examine the effect of increased travel distance on bilateral trade. Based on a gravity model estimated with a Poisson pseudo-maximum likelihood, we find a distance elasticity of trade close to -0.6. Such effects are mainly driven by changes in imports. Our findings revise downwards cross-sectional estimates of the distance elasticity of trade. However, they confirm the estimates from more recent literature that exploit similar time-varying shocks to distance.
24 Joseph Gomes (IRES) CANCELLED
Maternal Mortality and Women's Political Participation (with Sonia Bhalotra, Damian Clarke, Atheendar Venkataramani)
We show that large declines in maternal mortality can be achieved by raising women’s political participation. We estimate that the recent wave of quotas for women in parliament in low income countries has resulted in a 9 to 12% decline in maternal mortality. Among mechanisms are that gender quotas lead to an 8 to 10% increase in skilled birth attendance, a 6 to 12% increase in prenatal care utilization and a 4 to 11% decrease in birth rates.
01 Elisabeth Leduc (ULB)
Subsidizing Domestic Services as a Tool to Fight Unemployment: Effectiveness and Hidden Costs (with Ilan Tojerow)
European countries have increasingly adopted wage subsidies for the sector of domestic services to reduce low-skilled unemployment. Yet, empirical evidence on their effectiveness is scarce. In this paper, we use Belgian administrative data to estimate how participation in the subsidized domestic services sector impacts the labour market outcomes of program participants. Our identification strategy rests on a dynamic event study difference-in-differences model combined with coarsened exact matching. Our findings indicate that such subsidies can be effective in reducing unemployment and inactivity, but only by increasing employment within the subsidized domestic services sector. We also find that program participation deteriorates physical health, thus increasing the worker’s probability of claiming disability insurance benefits.
08 Bart Cockx (Ghent University)
Priority to unemployed immigrants? A causal machine learning evaluation of training in Belgium (with Michael Lechner and Joost Bollens)
Based on administrative data of unemployed in Belgium, we estimate the labour market effects of three training programmes at various aggregation levels using Modified Causal Forests, a causal machine learning estimator. While all programmes have positive effects after the lock-in period, we find substantial heterogeneity across programmes and unemployed. Simulations show that “black-box” rules that reassign unemployed to programmes that maximise estimated individual gains can considerably improve effectiveness: up to 20% more (less) time spent in (un)employment within a 30 months window. A shallow policy tree delivers a simple rule that realizes about 70% of this gain.
15 Gregory Ponthière (Hoover Chair)
Childlessness, childfreeness and compensation (with Marie-Louise Leroux (UQAM) et Pierre Pestieau (ULiège))
We study the design of a fair family policy in an economy where parenthood is regarded either as desirable or as undesirable, and where there is imperfect fertility control, leading to involuntary childlessness/parenthood. Using an equivalent consumption approach in the consumption-fertility space, we first show that the identification of the worst-off individuals is not robust to how the social evaluator fixes the reference fertility level. Adopting the ex post egalitarian social criterion, which gives priority to the worst off in realized terms, we then examine the compensation for involuntary childlessness/parenthood. Unlike real-world family policies, a fair family policy does not always involve positive family allowances to (voluntary) parents, and may also, under some reference fertility levels, involve positive childlessness allowances. Our results are robust to assuming asymmetric information and to introducing Assisted Reproductive Technologies.
02 Joseph Gomes (IRES/LIDAM)
Antagonism between ethnic groups has a profound impact on political economy outcomes. This is evidenced by racial tensions in the US, ethnic conflicts in Africa or religious repression in India. More generally, during the last decade the world has witnessed a revival of ethnic nationalism. In this project, I will investigate the causes and consequences of ethnic antagonism and ethnic nationalism through three separate exercises. Using novel (big) data from India, I will (1) investigate the causes behind the rising popularity of ethnonationalist political parties, and (2) identify the individual-level consequences of ethnonationalism. Finally, using data from Africa, I will identify the role of globalization in instigating ethnic antagonism.
09 Pierre Cahuc
The Lock-in Effects of Part-time Unemployment Benefits (co-authored with Hélène Benghalem and Pierre Villedieu)
We ran a large randomized controlled experiment among about 150,000 recipients of unemployment benefits insurance in France in order to evaluate the impact of part-time unem- ployment benefits. We took advantage of the lack of knowledge of job seekers regarding this program and sent emails presenting the program. The information provision had a significant positive impact on the propensity to work while on claim, but reduced the unemployment exit rate, showing important lock-in effects into unemployment associated with part-time unemployment benefits. The importance of these lock-in effects implies that decreasing the marginal tax rate on earnings from work while on claim in the neighborhood of its current level does not increase labor supply and increases the expenditure net of taxes of the unemployment insurance agency.
16 Rigas Oikonomou (IRES/LIDAM)
23 Adèle Lemoine
Inherited Gender Norms and the Cognitive Gender Gap: Evidence from SHARE data
Several studies showed that women outperform men in verbal and memory abilities, but this finding is not universal. In particular, this female cognitive advantage decreases when gender roles are more traditional. As literature shows that cognitive functioning improves with human capital investment, gender gaps in education and labour market participation are expected to explain cognitive gender differences. We investigate the contribution of gender norms to the gender cognitive gap using second generation immigrants in the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE) and measures for gender norms at the parental home-country level in the World Value Survey (WVS) and the European Value Study (EVS). We find that female memory skills decrease relatively to men when both parents are born in a country associated to traditional gender roles. The exploration of underlying mechanisms supports the canal of gender differences in education.
02 François Courtoy
Optimal Taxes and Transfers with Household Heterogeneity (co-authored with Boris Chafwehé)
In this paper, we investigate the properties of optimal fiscal policy when heterogeneity between households is accounted for. The Ramsey planner uses labor taxes and transfers to finance the deficit and redistribute resources between households. We first show that in the long-run steady-state, it is not always optimal for the planner to use lump-sum taxes (negative transfers) to generate fiscal surpluses. Then, we study the cyclical properties of fiscal policy and show that the presence of transfers allows the planner to reduce the volatility of distortionary labor taxes and bring the economy closer to the complete market allocation, and that this policy can be implemented without having much impact on cross-sectional heterogeneity. Finally, we choose the parameters of the model to match moments related to fiscal variables in the US. We show that the presence of household-specific income shocks allows the model to successfully match the key features of the data.
09 Elsa Leromain
Voting under threat: Evidence from 2020 French local elections
This paper studies the impact of the spread of Covid-19 on turnout to French local elections in March 2020. Using heterogeneity in exposure to the virus, we analyse how different risk factors affect voter turnout. We show that proximity to a cluster, population density and the age of the population - known risk factor at the time - deter turnout at the city-level. We also document a large heterogeneity in the effect of turnout depending on the political affinity of the city as measured by its votes in the first round of the 2017 presidential election. Turnout is lower in cities with a higher vote share for Marine Le Pen, conditional on a number of demographic and socio-economic characteristics.
Joint with Gonzague Vannoorenberghe
23 Dorothée Hillrichs
Recovering Within-Country Inequality from Trade Data
We develop a novel method to infer within-country income inequality. Our two-step method exploits the link between a country's income distribution and its import patterns. First, we identify varieties of goods typically imported by richer, more unequal countries. In a second step, we exploit the variation of income elasticities across varieties of goods to uncover within-country net income inequality. For a given average income, disproportionate imports of highly income elastic varieties correlate with income dispersion. We take advantage of the global availability of trade flow reports to extend inequality data coverage across countries and over time. Notably, we add consistently measured inequality data for developing countries, where conventional inequality data is scarce. Our final data set covers inequality in 162 countries between 1995-2018. We document the viability of our methodology with multiple cross-validation exercises.
20 Marcus Biermann
27 Clémentine Garrouste (Paris Dauphine)
Impact of later retirement on mortality: Evidence from France
This paper investigates the impact of delaying retirement on mortality among the French population. We take advantage of the 1993 pension reform in the private sector to identify the causal effect of an increase in claiming age on mortality. We use administrative data which provide detailed information on career characteristics, dates of birth and death. Our results, precisely estimated, show that an exogenous increase of one year in the claiming age has no significant impact on the probability to die, measured between age 61 and 79, even when we allow for nonlinear effects of treatment intensity. To test the power of our sample to detect statistically significant effects for rare events like death, we compute minimum detectable effects (MDEs). Our MDE estimates suggest that, if an impact of later retirement on mortality would be detectable, it would remain very small in magnitude.
11 Muriel Dejemeppe
18 Samia Ferhat