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2007 Working papers

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824 - The Double Majority Voting Rule of the EU Reform Treaty as a Democratic Ideal for an Enlarging Union: an Appraisal Using Voting Power Analysis

Dennis Leech and Haris Aziz

The Double Majority rule in the Treaty is claimed to be simpler, more transparent and more democratic than the existing rule. We examine these questions against the democratic ideal that the votes of all citizens in whatever member country should be of equal value using voting power analysis considering possible future enlargements involving candidate countries and then to a number of hypothetical future enlargements. We find the Double Majority rule to fails to measure up to the democratic ideal in all cases. We find the Jagiellonian compromise to be very close to this ideal.

823 - Combinatorial and computational aspects of multiple weighted voting games

Haris Aziz, Mike Paterson and Dennis Leech

Weighted voting games are ubiquitous mathematical models which are used in economics, political science, neuroscience, threshold logic, reliability theory and distributed systems. They model situations where agents with variable voting weight vote in favour of or against a decision. A coalition of agents is winning if and only if the sum of weights of the coalition exceeds or equals a specified quota. We provide a mathematical and computational characterization of multiple weighted voting games which are an extension of weighted voting games1 . We analyse the structure of multiple weighted voting games and some of their combinatorial properties especially with respect to dictatorship, veto power, dummy players and Banzhaf indices. An illustrative Mathematica program to compute voting power properties of multiple weighted voting games is also provided.

822 - Quantity Versus Quality in the Soviet Market for Weapons

Mark Harrison and Andrei Markevich

Military market places display obvious inefficiencies under most arrangements, but the Soviet defense market was unusual for its degree of monopoly, exclusive relationships, intensely scrutinized (in its formative years) by a harsh dictator. This provided the setting for quality versus quantity in the delivery of weapons to the government. The paper discusses the power of the industrial contractor over the defense buyer in terms of a hold-up problem. The typical use that the contractor made of this power was to default on quality. The defense ministry’s counter-action took the form of deploying agents through industry with the authority to verify quality and reject substandard goods. The final compromise restored quality at the expense of quantity. Being illicit, it had to be hidden from the dictator.

821 - Beliefs and Redistributive Politics under Incomplete Information

Tommaso Gabrieli

The reason why the social contract is so different in two otherwise comparable societies like the United States and continental Western European countries represents a challenging question. Large empirical evidence shows that the difference in the political support for redistribution appears to reflect a difference in the social perceptions regarding the determinants of individual wealth and the underlying sources of income inequality. I present a model of beliefs and redistribution which explains this evidence through multiple politico-economic equilibria. Differently from the recent literature which obtains multiple equilibria by modeling agents characterized by psychological biases, my model is based on standard assumptions. Multiple equilibria originate from multiple optimal levels of information for the society. Multiple optimal levels of information exist because increasing the informativeness of an economy produces a trade-off between a decrease in adverse selection and an increase in moral hazard. The framework allows the analysis of various comparative statics in order to answer to policy questions.

820 - Am I missing something? The effects of absence from class on student performance

Wiji Arulampalam, Robin A. Naylor and Jeremy Smith

We exploit a rich administrative panel data-set for cohorts of Economics students at a UK university in order to identify causal effects of class absence on student performance. We exploit the panel properties of the data to control for unobserved heterogeneity across students and hence for endogeneity between class absence and academic performance of students stemming from the likely influence of effort and ability on both absence and performance. Our estimations also exploit features of the data such as the random assignment of students to classes and information on the timetable of classes, which provides potential instruments in our identification strategy. Among other results we find, from a quantile regression specification, that there is a causal effect of absence on performance for students: missing class leads to poorer performance. There is evidence that this is particularly true for better-performing students, consistent with our hypothesis that effects of absence on performance are likely to vary with factors such as student ability.

819 - Some Remarks on the Ranking of Infinite Utility Streams

Bhaskar Dutta

A long tradition in welfare economics and moral philosophy, dating back at least to Sidgwick(1907) is the idea that all generations must be treated alike. Perhaps, the most forceful assertion of this idea comes from Ramsey (1928) who declared that any argument for preferring one generation over another must come “merely from the weakness of the imagination”. The “equal treatment of all generations” or the intergenerational equity principle has been formalised in the subsequent literature as the axiom of Anonymity, which requires that two infinite utility streams be judged indifferent to one another if one can be obtained from the other through a permutation of utilities of a finite number of generations. Since it also seems “natural” to require that any social evaluation of infinite utility streams respond positively to an increase in the utility of any generation, the Pareto Axiom is also desirable. Unfortunately, Diamond(1965) showed that there is no social welfare function satisfying these axioms along with a continuity axiom. In a more recent paper, Basu and Mitra( 2003) prove a more general result by showing that the continuity axiom is superfluous

818 - Recent Developments In The Theory Of Very Long Run Growth: A Historical Appraisal

Stephen Broadberry

This paper offers a historical appraisal of recent developments in the theory of very long run growth, focusing on three main areas: (1) linkages between wages, population and human capital (2) interactions between institutions, markets and technology and (3) sustaining the process of economic growth once it has started. Historians as well as economists have recently begun to break away from the traditional practice of using different methods to analyse the world before and after the industrial revolution. However, tensions remain between the theoretical and historical literatures, particularly over the unit of analysis (the world or particular countries) and the role of historical contingency.

817 - The Historical Roots of India's Service-Led Development: a Sectoral Analysis of Anglo-Indian Productivity Differences, 1870-2000

Stephen Broadberry and Bishnupriya Gupta

Overall labour productivity in India was already only around 15 per cent of the UK level between the early 1870s and the late 1920s. Between 1929 and 1950 India fell further behind and remained at around 10 per cent of the UK level until the 1970s. India has been catching-up since the 1970s, but by the end of the twentieth century was still further behind than in the late nineteenth century. Agriculture has played an important role in India’s relative decline to 1950 and subsequent delay in catching up, since comparative India/UK labour productivity in this sector has declined continuously and agriculture still accounts for around two-thirds of employment in India. Comparative India/UK labour productivity in industry has fluctuated around a level of around 15 per cent. The only sector to exhibit trend improvement in comparative India/UK labour productivity over the long run is services, rising from around 15 per cent to around 30%. India’s recent emergence as a dynamic service-led economy appears to have long historical roots.

816 - The Dictator’s Dilemma: to Punish or to Assist? Plan Failures and Interventions under Stalin

Andrei Markevich

A dictator issues an order, but the order is not carried out. The dictator does not know whether the order failed because the agent behaved opportunistically, or because his order contained some mistake. Imperfect information creates his dilemma: whether to punish the agent, or assist her or both. This paper models the dictator’s intervention when an order fails. The analysis links the dictator’s coercive policy with the softness of budget constraints. The model is verified against the history of Stalin’s dictatorship, using statistical evidence extracted from the formerly secret records of the Communist Party's "control commission".

815 - Intergenerational Mobility of Migrants: Is There a Gender Gap?

Natalie Chen, Paola Conconi and Carlo Perroni

We examine gender differences in intergenerational patterns of social mobility for second-generation migrants. Empirical studies of social mobility have found that women are generally more mobile than men. Matching theory suggests that this may be because the importance of market characteristics (financial wealth and earning power) relative to non-market characteristics in the marriage market is lesser for women than men, and market characteristics can be intergenerationally more persistent than non-market characteristics. According to this interpretation, the mobility gender gap should be wider for second-generation migrant households, where gender roles remain more pronounced than in the non-migrant population. We explore this conjecture using data from the US General Social Survey. Our results show that daughters of first-generation migrants are intergenerationally more mobile than migrants’ sons, and more so than it is the case for non-migrants’ children.

814 - Market Selection and Payout Policy Under Majority Rule

Pablo F. Beker

The purpose of this paper is to explain how the choice between distributing cash through dividends or shares repurchases affects the firm’s ability to raise capital in the financial market. I assume investors have quadratic preferences over wealth but different prior beliefs about the likelihood a distribution takes place. At date zero agents purchase shares given their expectation about the firm’s payout method. At date 1 the firm announces whether the payout takes place that period. As in Brennan and Thakor [3], investors with different shareholdings have different incentives to gather information and, therefore, heterogeneous preferences about payout methods at date 1. I assume the firm adopts the payout method preferred by the majority of shareholders at date 1 under the one share/one vote rule. At date 2 the firm is liquidated and the remaining output is distributed among its shareholders. If at date zero agents disagree but not too much on the probability a distribution takes place, I show that a firm expected to pay dividends raises strictly more financial capital than an otherwise identical firm which is expected to repurchase shares. Therefore, a larger fraction of cash is distributed as dividend than through repurchases. One concludes that even in the presence of a small tax disadvantage financial markets favor dividend paying firms

813 - Retained Earnings Dynamic, Internal Promotions and Walrasian Equilibrium

Pablo F. Beker

In the early stages of the process of industry evolution, firms are financially constrained and might pay different wages to workers according to their expectations about the prospects for advancement offered by each firm’s job ladder. This paper argues that, nevertheless, if the output market is competitive, the positive predictions of the perfectly competitive model are still a good description of the long run outcome. If firms maximize the discounted sum of constrained profits, financing expenditure out of retained earnings, profits are driven down to zero as the perfectly competitive model predicts. Ex ante identical firms may follow different growth paths in which workers work for a lower entry-wage in firms expected to grow more. In the steady state, however, workers performing the same job, in ex-ante identical firms, receive the same wage. I explain when the long run outcome is efficient, when it is not, and why firms that produce inefficiently might drive the efficient ones out of the market even when the steady state has the positive properties of a Walrasian equilibrium. To some extent, it is not technological efficiency but workers’ self-fulfilling expectations about their prospects for advancement within the firm that explains which firms have lower unit costs, grow more, and dominate the market.

812 - Does Migration Empower Married Women?

Natalie Chen, Paola Conconi and Carlo Perroni

Household migration can affect labor market opportunities differently for the two spouses, both because of gender-specific differences between the skills of migrants and the skills that are in demand in the host country, and because of differences in the extent of gender-based labor market discrimination between the country of origin and the host country. Standard bargaining theory suggests that, if household migration leads to a comparative improvement in labor market opportunities for married women, it should be beneficial to them. We show that, if renegotiation possibilities for migrant women are limited, the opposite may be true, particularly if women are specialized in household activities and the labor market allows more flexibility in their labor supply choices. Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel indeed shows that, holding everything else constant, improvements in relative wages for migrant women do not translate into better outcomes for them.

810 - Does Tax Competition Really Promote Growth?

Marko Koethenbuerger and Ben Lockwood

This paper considers the relationship between tax competition and growth in an endogenous growth model where there are stochastic shocks to productivity, and capital taxes fund a public good which may be for final consumption or an infrastructure input. Absent stochastic shocks, decentralized tax setting (two or more jurisdictions) maximizes the rate of growth, as the constant returns to scale present with endogenous growth implies “extreme” tax competition. Stochastic shocks imply that households face a portfolio choice problem, which may dampen down tax competition and may raise taxes above the centralized level. Growth can be lower with decentralization. Our results also predict a negative relationship between output volatility and growth, consistent with the empirical evidence.

809 - Oil Prices, Profits, and Recessions: An Inquiry Using Terrorism as an Instrumental Variable

Natalie Chen & Liam Graham

Nearly all post-war recessions have been preceded by oil-price shocks, but is this because spikes in the price of petroleum cause economic downturns? Most research has ignored an identification problem: oil prices and the state of the world economy are endogenously determined. This paper uses terrorist incidents as an instrumental variable. In an international panel of industries, we show that after correction for simultaneity bias — though not before — the price of oil has large negative effects upon profitability. Our results seem to lend support to the claim that oil-price spikes can be a source of recessions.

808 - History: Sunk Cost, or Widespread Externality?

Peter J. Hammond

In an intertemporal Arrow–Debreu economy with a continuum of agents, suppose that the auctioneer sets prices while the government institutes optimal lump-sum transfers period by period. An earlier paper showed how subgame imperfections arise because agents understand how their current decisions such as those determining investment will influence future lump-sum transfers. This observation undermines the second efficiency theorem of welfare economics and makes “history” a widespread externality. A two-period model is used to investigate the constrained efficiency properties of different kinds of equilibrium. Possibilities for remedial policy are also discussed.

807 - The Transition to Democracy : Collective Action and Intra-elite Confict

Sayantan Ghosal and Eugenio Proto

This paper studies how intra-elite conflict results in transition to democracy, characterized as both franchise extension to, and lowering the individual cost of collective political action for, an initially disorganized non-elite. Two risk averse elites compete for the appropriation of a unit of social surplus with initial uncertainty about their future relative bargaining power. Both elements of a democracy are necessary to ensure that the two elites credibly commit to a mutually fairer share of the surplus and we derive sufficient conditions for democracy to emerge in equilibrium. Our formal analysis accounts for stylized facts that emerge from an analysis of Indian and West European democracies

806 - Characterization of Risk: A Sharp Law of Large Numbers

Peter J Hammond and Yeneng Sun

An extensive literature in economics uses a continuum of random variables to model individual random shocks imposed on a large population. Let H denote the Hilbert space of square-integrable random variables. A key concern is to characterize the family of all H-valued functions that satisfy the law of large numbers when a large sample of agents is drawn at random. We use the iterative extension of an infinite product measure introduced in [6] to formulate a “sharp” law of large numbers. We prove that an H-valued function satisfies this law if and only if it is both Pettis-integrable and norm integrably bounded.

805 - The Causes Of Excessive Deficits In The European Union

Vítor Castro

Several studies have identified the factors that cause public deficits in industrial democracies. They consider that economic, political and institutional factors play an important role in the understanding of those deficits. However, the study of the determinants of excessive deficits remains practically unexplored. Since excessive deficits can have large negative spillover effects when countries are forming a monetary union without a centralised budget – as it is the case for a group of European countries – this paper tries to explore that gap in the literature by identifying the main causes of excessive deficits and the ways of avoiding them. Binary choice models are estimated over a panel of 15 European Union countries for the period 1970-2006, where an excessive deficit is defined as a deficit higher than 3% of GDP. Results show that a weak fiscal stance, low economic growth, the timing of parliamentary elections and majority left-wing governments are the main causes of excessive deficits in the EU countries. Moreover, the institutional constraints imposed after Maastricht over the EU countries’ fiscal policy have succeeded in reducing the probability of excessive deficits in Europe, especially in small countries. Therefore, this study concludes that supranational fiscal constraints, national efforts to reduce public debts, growth promoting policies and mechanisms to avoid political opportunism and partisan effects are essential factors for an EU country to avoid excessive deficits. Finally, the results presented in this paper raise the idea that a good strategy for the EU countries to avoid excessive deficits caused by the opportunistic behaviour of their policymakers would be to schedule elections for the beginning or the end of the year.

804 - Competitive Market Mechanisms as Social Choice Procedures

Peter J. Hammond

Social choice theory concerns itself with the proper choice of a social state from a given feasible set of social states. The main question the theory addresses is how that social choice should depend on the profile of individual preferences. Early work by Arrow and various predecessors, including Condorcet, Borda, Dodgson and Black, was about the construction of a social preference ordering — i.e., a binary relation of weak preference that is complete and transitive. Later, Sen (1971, 1982, 1986) in particular initiated an investigation of more general social choice rules (SCRs) which may not maximize any binary relation, even one that may not be complete or transitive.

803 - Monte Carlo Simulation of Macroeconomic Risk with a Continuum Agents: The General Case

Peter J. Hammond and Yeneng Sun

In large random economies with heterogeneous agents, a standard stochastic framework presumes a random macro state, combined with idiosyncratic micro shocks. This can be formally represented by a random process consisting of a continuum of random variables that are conditionally independent given the macro state. However, this process satisfies a standard joint measurability condition only if there is essentially no idiosyncratic risk at all. Based on iteratively complete product measure spaces, we characterize the validity of the standard stochastic framework via Monte Carlo simulation as well as event-wise measurable conditional probabilities. These general characterizations also allow us to strengthen some earlier results related to exchangeability and independence.

802 - Multidimensional Screening, Affiliation, and Full Separation

Charles Blackorby and Dezsö Szalay

We solve a class of two-dimensional screening problems in which one dimension has the standard features, while the other dimension is impossible to exaggerate and enters the agent's utility only through the message but not the true type. Natural applications are procurement and regulation where the producer's ability to produce quality and his costs of producing quantity are both unknown; or selling to a budget constrained buyer. We show that under these assumptions, the orthogonal incentive constraints are necessary and sufficient for the full set of incentive constraints. Provided that types are affiliated and all the conditional distributions of types have monotonic inverse hazard rates, the solution is fully separating in both dimensions.

801 - The Value Added Tax: Its Causes and Consequences

Michael Keen and Ben Lockwood

Almost unknown in 1960, the value added tax (VAT) is now found in more than 130 countries, raises around 20 percent of the world’s tax revenue, and has been the center piece of tax reform in many developing countries. This paper explores the causes and consequences of the remarkable rise of the VAT. A key question is whether it has indeed proved, as its proponents claim, an especially effective form of taxation. To address this, it is first shown that a tax innovation—such as the introduction of a VAT—reduces the marginal cost of public funds if and only if it also leads an optimizing government to increase the tax ratio. This observation leads to the estimation, on a panel of 143 countries for 25 years, of a system of equations describing both the probability of VAT adoption and the revenue impact of the VAT. The results point to a rich set of determinants of VAT adoption, this being more likely, for example, if a country has a program with the IMF and the less open it is to international trade. In the revenue equation, the presence of a VAT does indeed have a significant impact, but also a complex one, with a negative intercept effect counteracted by positive effects that are greater the higher are per capita income and, more tentatively, openness. While the sign of the revenue impact of the VAT is thus in general ambiguous, most countries that have adopted a VAT seem to have gained a more effective tax instrument in doing so (though this is less apparent in subSaharan Africa), and most without it seem likely to gain from its adoption.

800 - Women’s Earning Power and the “Double Burden” of Market and Household Work

Natalie Chen, Paola Conconi and Carlo Perroni

Bargaining theory predicts that married women who experience a relative improvement in their labor market position should experience a comparative gain within their marriage. However, if renegotiation possibilities are limited by institutional mechanisms that achieve long-term commitment, the opposite may be true, particularly if women are specialized in household activities and the labor market allows comparatively more flexibility in their labor supply responses. Evidence from the German Socio-Economic Panel indeed shows that, as long as renegotiation opportunities are limited, comparatively better wages for women exacerbate their “double burden” of market and household work.

799 - Vertical Integration and Firm Boundaries: The Evidence

Francine Lafontaine and Margaret Slade

Understanding what determines firm boundaries and the choice between interacting in a firm or a market is not only the fundamental concern of the theory of the firm, but it is also one of the most important issues in economics. Data on value added, for example, reveal that in the US, transactions that occur in firms are roughly equal in value to those that occur in markets.2 The economics profession, however, has devoted much more attention to the workings of markets than to the study of firms, and even less attention to the interface between the two. Nevertheless, since Coase’s (1937) seminal paper on the subject, a rich set of theories has been developed that deal with firm boundaries in vertical or input/output structures. Furthermore, in the last 25 years, empirical evidence that can shed light on those theories has been accumulating.

798 - Voting, Lobbying, and the Decentralization Theorem

Ben Lockwood

This paper revisits the fiscal "decentralization theorem", by relaxing the role of the assumption that governments are benevolent, while retaining the assumption of policy uniformity. If instead, decisions are made by direct majority voting, (i) centralization can welfare-dominate decentralization even if there are no externalities and regions are heterogenous; (ii) decentralization can welfare-dominate centralization even if there are positive externalities and regions are homogenous. The intuition is that the insensitivity of majority voting to preference intensity interacts with the different inefficiencies in the two fiscal regimes to give second-best results. Similar results obtain when governments are benevolent, but subject to lobbying, because now decisions are too sensitive to the preferences of the organised group

797 - Unit Versus Ad Valorem Taxes : The Private Ownership of Monopoly In General Equilibrium

Charles Blackorby and Sushama Murty

Blackorby and Murty [2007] prove that, with a monopoly and under one hundred percent profit taxation and uniform lump-sum transfers, the utility possibility sets of economies with unit and ad valorem taxes are identical. This welfare-equivalence is in contrast to most previous studies. In this paper, we relax the assumption of one hundred percent profit taxation and allow the consumers to receive profit incomes from ownership of shares in the monopoly firm. We find that, for any fixed vector of profit shares, the utility possibility sets of economies with unit and ad valorem taxes are not generally identical. But it does not imply that one completely dominates the other. Rather, the two utility possibility frontiers cross each other.

796 - Moral Hazard and Entrepreneurial Failure in a Two-sector Model of Productive Matching – with an Application to the Natural Resource Curse

Carlo Perroni and Eugenio Proto

We analyze a two-sector, general-equilibrium model of productive matching and sorting, where risky production is carried out by pairs of individuals both exerting effort. Risk-neutral (entrepreneurial) individuals can match either with other risk-neutral individuals, or – acting as employers/insurers – with risk-averse (nonentrepreneurial) individuals. Although the latter option has the potential to generate more surplus, when effort is unobservable and risk is high, the moral hazard problem in mixed matches may be too severe for mixing to be attractive to both risk aversion types, leading to a segregated equilibrium in which risk-averse individuals select low-risk, low-yielding activities. An increase in the return associated with the riskier sector can then trigger a switch from a mixed to a segregated equilibrium, causing aggregate output to fall.

795 - Is Partial Tax Harmonization Desirable?

Paola Conconi, Carlo Perroni and Raymond Riezman

We consider a setting in which capital taxation is characterized by two distortions working in opposite directions. On one hand, governments engage in tax competition and are tempted to lower capital tax rates. On the other hand, they are unable to commit to future policies and, once capital has been installed, have incentives to increase taxes. In this setting, there exists a tax that optimally trades off the two distortions. We compare three possible tax harmonization scenarios: no tax harmonization (all countries set taxes unilaterally), global tax harmonization (all countries coordinate their capital taxes), and partial tax harmonization (only a subset of all countries coordinate capital taxes). We show that, if capital is sufficiently mobile, partial tax harmonization benefits all countries compared to both global and no harmonization.

794 - The Impact Of The European Union Fiscal Rules On Economic Growth

Vítor Castro

This study intends to provide an empirical answer to the question of whether Maastricht and SGP fiscal rules have affected growth of European Union countries. A growth equation augmented with fiscal variables and controlling for the period in which fiscal rules were implemented in Europe is estimated over a panel of 15 EU countries (and 8 OECD countries) for the period 1970-2005 with the purpose of answering this question. The equation is estimated using both a dynamic fixed effects estimator and a recently developed pooled mean group estimator. GMM estimators are also used in a robustness analysis. Empirical results show that growth of real GDP per capita in the EU was not negatively affected in the period after Maastricht. This is the case when the recent performance of EU countries is compared both with their past performance and with the performance of other developed countries. Results even show that growth is slightly higher in the period in which the fulfilment of the 3% criteria for the deficit started to be officially assessed. Therefore, this study concludes that the institutional changes that occurred in Europe after 1992, especially the implementation of Maastricht and Stability and Growth Pact fiscal rules, should not be blamed for being harmful to growth in Europe.

793 - Obesity, Unhappiness, and The Challenge of Affluence: Theory and Evidence

Andrew J. Oswald and Nattavudh Powdthavee

Is affluence a good thing? The book The Challenge of Affluence by Avner Offer (2006) argues that economic prosperity weakens self-control and undermines human well-being. Consistent with a pessimistic view, we show that psychological distress has been rising through time in modern Great Britain. Taking over-eating as an example, our data reveal that half the British population view themselves as overweight, and that happiness and mental health are worse among fatter people in both Britain and Germany. A 10-point move up in body mass index (BMI) is associated in the cross-section with a drop in psychological health of approximately 0.3 GHQ points. Comparisons also matter. For a given level of BMI, we find that people who are educated or who have high income are more likely to view themselves as overweight. We discuss problems of inference and argue that longitudinal data on BMI are needed. We suggest a theory of imitation -- where utility depends on relative weight -- in which there can be obesity spirals after only small drops in the price of food.

792 - Hypertension and Happiness across Nations

A modern statistical literature argues that countries such as Denmark are particularly happy while nations like East Germany are not. Are such claims credible? The paper explores this by building on two ideas. The first is that psychological well-being and high blood-pressure are thought by clinicians to be inversely correlated. The second is that blood-pressure problems can be reported more objectively than mental well-being. Using data on 16 countries, the paper finds that happier nations report lower levels of hypertension. The paper’s results are consistent with, and seem to offer a step towards the validation of, cross-national estimates of well-being.

791 - Migrant Smuggling

Yuji Tamura

We analyze the migrant smuggling market where smugglers differ in their capacities to exploit their clients labor in the destination. We show that when exploitation capacities are private information, the equilibrium may be characterized by adverse selection. In such a case, policies that diminish the availability of smuggling services to potential migrants inevitably raise the mean exploitation of smuggled labor.

790 - Pricing behaviour under competition in the UK electricity supply industry

Monica Giulietti, Jesús Otero & Michael Waterson

This paper investigates the evolution of electricity prices for domestic customers in the UK following the introduction of competition. The empirical analysis is based on a panel data set containing detailed information about electricity supply prices over the period 1999 to 2006. The analysis aims to test theoretical hypotheses about the nature of consumers’ switching and search costs. The econometric analysis of persistence and price dispersion provides only limited support for the view that the market is becoming more competitive and also indicates that there remain significant potential benefits to consumers from searching alternative suppliers.

789 - Advertising And Labour Supply: Why Do Americans Work Such Long Hours?

Keith Cowling and Rattanasuda Poolsombat

Americans are working much longer hours in the paid labour market than workers in Western Europe. Much of the debate focuses on whether this is the result of voluntary worker choice or whether this is a decision imposed on workers by their employers. This paper shows that American hours of work have become more or less stabilised as a result of the rising intensity of advertising in the U.S.: advertising may raise the desired amount of marketed goods and services for which workers find it necessary to work long hours.

788 - The Impact of Parental Income and Education on Child Health: Further Evidence for England

Orla Doyle, Colm Harmon and Ian Walker

This paper investigates the robustness of recent findings on the effect of parental education and income on child health. We are particularly concerned about spurious correlation arising from the potential endogeneity of parental income and education. We adopt an instrumental variables approach and our results suggest that the parental income and education effects are generally larger than are suggested by the correlations observed in the data. Moreover, we find strong support for the causal effect of income effect being large for the poor but small at the average level of income.

787 - The Morishima Gross Elasticity of Substitution

Charles Blackorby, Daniel Primont and R. Robert Russell

We show that the Hotelling-Lau elasticity of substitution, an extension of the Allen-Uzawa elasticity to allow for optimal output-quantity (or utility) responses to changes in factor prices, inherits all of the failings of the Allen-Uzawa elasticity identified by Blackorby and Russell [1989 AER]. An analogous extension of the Morishima elasticity of substitution to allow for output quantity changes preserves the salient properties of the original Hicksian notion of elasticity of substitution.

786 - Sheer Class? Returns to educational performance: evidence from UK graduates’ first destination labour market outcomes

Robin Naylor, Jeremy Smith and Abigail McKnight

We exploit individual-level administrative data for whole populations of UK university students for the leaving cohorts of 1985-1993 (together with that of 1998) to investigate the ináuence of degree performance on graduate occupational earnings. We Önd that there is a signiÖcant premium associated with a good performance at university. We also Önd that this premium increased between 1985/6 and 1993/4, a period of substantial expansion in the graduate population. Among other results, we Önd that there are signiÖcant di§erences in the occupational earnings of leavers according to university attended, subject studied, and pre-university educational and social background, ceteris paribus.

785 - Mortality and Immortality

Matthew D Rablen and Andrew J Oswald

It has been known for centuries that the rich and famous have longer lives than the poor and ordinary. Causality, however, remains trenchantly debated. The ideal experiment would be one in which status and money could somehow be dropped upon a sub-sample of individuals while those in a control group received neither. This paper attempts to formulate a test in that spirit. It collects 19th-century birth data on science Nobel Prize winners and nominees. Using a variety of corrections for potential biases, the paper concludes that winning the Nobel Prize, rather than merely being nominated, is associated with between 1 and 2 years of extra longevity. Greater wealth, as measured by the real value of the Prize, does not seem to affect lifespan.

784 - Testing for seasonal unit roots in heterogeneous panels in the presence of cross section dependence

Monica Giulietti, Jesus Otero and Jeremy Smith

This paper presents two alternative methods for modifying the HEGY-IPS test in the presence of cross-sectional dependency. In general, the bootstrap method (BHEGY-IPS) has greater power than the method suggested by Pesaran (2007) (CHEGY-IPS), although for large T and high degree of cross-sectional dependency the CHEGY-IPS test dominates the BHEGY-IPS test

783 - Different returns to different degrees? Evidence from the British Cohort Study 1970

Massimiliano Bratti. Robin Naylor and Jeremy Smith

As in many other countries, government policy in the UK has the objective of raising the participation rate of young people in higher education, while also increasing the share of the costs of higher education borne by students themselves. A rationale for the latter element comes from evidence of a high private return to university undergraduate degrees. However, much of this evidence pre-dates the rapid expansion in the graduate population. In the current paper, we use evidence from a cohort of people born in 1970 to estimate hourly wage returns to a university degree. Among other results, we find (i) that compared to an earlier 1958 birth cohort the average returns to a first degree for men changed very little, while the return for women declined substantially and (ii) substantial evidence of differences in returns to a first degree according to subject area of study and class of degree awarded.

782 - Nonlinearities in Intergenerational Earnings Mobility: Consequences for Cross-Country Comparisons

Bernt Bratsberg, Knut Røed, Oddbjørn Raaum, Robin Naylor, Markus Jäntti, Tor Eriksson and Eva Österbacka

We show that the patterns of intergenerational earnings mobility in Denmark, Finland, and Norway, unlike those for the US and the UK, are highly nonlinear. The Nordic relationship between log earnings of sons and fathers is flat in the lower segments of the fathers’ earnings distribution – sons growing up in the poorest households have the same adult earnings prospects as sons in moderately poor households – and is increasingly positive in middle and upper segments. This convex pattern contrasts sharply with our findings for the United States and the United Kingdom, where the relationship is much closer to being linear. As a result, cross-country comparisons of intergenerational earnings elasticities may be misleading with respect to transmission mechanisms in the central parts of the earnings distribution, and uninformative in the tails of the distribution.

781 - American exceptionalism in a new light: a comparison of intergenerational earnings mobility in the Nordic countries, the United Kingdom and the United States

Markus Jäntti, Bernt Bratsberg, Knut Røed, Oddbjørn Raaum, Robin Naylor, Eva Österbacka, Anders Björklund and Tor Eriksson

We develop methods and employ similar sample restrictions to analyse differences in intergenerational earnings mobility across the United States, the United Kingdom, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. We examine earnings mobility among pairs of fathers and sons as well as fathers and daughters using both mobility matrices and regression and correlation coefficients. Our results suggest that all countries exhibit substantial earnings persistence across generations, but with statistically significant differences across countries. Mobility is lower in the U.S. than in the U.K., where it is lower again compared to the Nordic countries. Persistence is greatest in the tails of the distributions and tends to be particularly high in the upper tails: though in the U.S. this is reversed with a particularly high likelihood that sons of the poorest fathers will remain in the lowest earnings quintile. This is a challenge to the popular notion of ’American exceptionalism’. The U.S. also differs from the Nordic countries in its very low likelihood that sons of the highest earners will show downward ’long-distance’ mobility into the lowest earnings quintile. In this, the U.K. is more similar to the U.S..