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1349 - Railways and cities in IndiaJames Fenske, Namrata Kala & Jinlin Wei
Using a new dataset on city populations in colonial India, we show that the railroad network increased city size in the period 1881 to 1931. Our baseline estimation approach includes fixed effects for city and year, and we construct instrumental variables for railroad proximity based on distance from a least cost path spanning cities that existed prior to the start of railroad construction. Cities that increased market access due to the railroad grew, particularly those cities that were initially small and isolated.
1348 - Bayesian Local ProjectionsSilvia Miranda-Agrippino & Giovanni Ricco
We propose a Bayesian approach to Local Projections that optimally addresses the empirical bias-variance tradeoff inherent in the choice between VARs and LPs. Bayesian Local Projections (BLP) regularise the LP regression models by using informative priors, thus estimating impulse response functions potentially better able to capture the properties of the data as compared to iterative VARs. In doing so, BLP preserve the flexibility of LPs to empirical model misspecifications while retaining a degree of estimation uncertainty comparable to a Bayesian VAR with standard macroeconomic priors. As a regularised direct forecast, this framework is also a valuable alternative to BVARs for multivariate out-of-sample projections.
1347 - Closing Time : The Local Equilibrium Effects of ProhibitionGreg Howard & Arianna Ornaghi
How do different local policies in a federal system affect local land values, production, and sorting? We study the question exploiting a large historical policy change : U.S. Alcohol Prohibition in the early twentieth century. Comparing same-state early and late adopters of county dry laws in a difference-in-differences design, we find that early Prohibition adoption increased population and farm real estate values. Moreover, we find strong effects on farm productivity consistent with increased investment due to a land price channel. In equilibrium, the policy change disproportionately attracted immigrants and African-Americans.
1346 - On the Quantity and Quality of Girls : Fertility, Parental Investments, and MortalityS Anukriti, Sonia Bhalotra & Eddy H. F. Tam
Access to prenatal sex-detection technology in India has led to a phenomenal increase in abortion of girls. We find that it has also narrowed the gender gap in under-5 mortality, consistent with surviving girls being more wanted than aborted girls. For every three aborted girls, one additional girl survived to age five. Mechanisms include moderation of son-biased fertility stopping and narrowing of gender gaps in parental investments. However, surviving girls are more likely to be born in lower status families. Our findings have implications not only for counts of missing girls but also for the later life outcomes of girls.
1345 - Infant Health, Cognitive Performance and Earnings : Evidence from Inception of the Welfare State in SwedenSonia Bhalotra, Martin Karlsson, Therese Nilsson & Nina Schwarz
We identify earnings impacts of exposure to an infant health intervention in Sweden, using individual linked administrative data to trace potential mechanisms. Leveraging quasi-random variation in eligibility, we estimate that exposure was associated with higher test scores in primary school for boys and girls. However only girls were more likely to score in the top quintile. Subsequent gains, in secondary schooling, employment, and earnings, are restricted to girls. We show that the differential gains for women accrued from both skills and opportunities, expansion of the welfare state having created unprecedented employment opportunities for women.
1344 - Predicting Inflation with Neural NetworksLivia Paranhos
This paper applies neural network models to forecast inflation. The use of a particular recurrent neural network, the long-short term memory model, or LSTM, that summarizes macroeconomic information into common components is a major contribution of the paper. Results from an exercise with US data indicate that the estimated neural nets usually present better forecasting performance than standard benchmarks, especially at long horizons. The LSTM in particular is found to outperform the traditional feed-forward network at long horizons, suggesting an advantage of the recurrent model in capturing the long-term trend of inflation. This finding can be rationalized by the so called long memory of the LSTM that incorporates relatively old information in the forecast as long as accuracy is improved, while economizing in the number of estimated parameters. Interestingly, the neural nets containing macroeconomic information capture well the features of inflation during and after the Great Recession, possibly indicating a role for nonlinearities and macro information in this episode. The estimated common components used in the forecast seem able to capture the business cycle dynamics, as well as information on prices.
1343 - Turnout in Concurrent Elections : Evidence from Two Quasi-Experiments in ItalyEnrico Cantoni, Ludovica Gazzè, and Jerome Schafer
We study the effects of different types of concurrent elections using individual-level administrative and survey data from Italy. Exploiting different voting ages for the two Houses of Parliament in a voter-level Regression Discontinuity Design, we find no effect of Senate voting eligibility on voter turnout or information acquisition. We also estimate city-level Differences-in-Differences showing that concurrent high-salience municipal elections increase turnout in lower-salience provincial and European elections, but not vice-versa. These concurrency effects are concentrated in municipalities in the South of Italy, possibly due to weaker political parties and lower levels of social capital.
1342 - Subjective Models of the Macroeconomy : Evidence from Experts and a Representative SamplePeter Andre, Carlo Pizzinelli, Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart
Using a sample of 2,200 households representative of the US population and a sample of more than 1,000 experts, we measure beliefs about how aggregate unemployment and inflation respond to different macroeconomic shocks. Expert predictions are quantitatively close to standard DSGE models and VAR evidence. While households' beliefs are directionally aligned with those of experts in the case of oil supply shocks and government spending shocks, they predict an opposite reaction of inflation to monetary policy and income tax shocks. A substantial fraction of deviations of household predictions can be explained by the use of a simple affective heuristic
1341 - Information Frictions among Firms and HouseholdsSebastian Link, Andreas Peichl, Christopher Roth & Johannes Wohlfart
We leverage survey data from Germany, Italy, and the US to document several novel stylized facts about the extent of information frictions among firms and households. First, firms’ expectations about the central bank policy rate, inflation, and aggregate unemployment are more aligned with expert forecasts and less dispersed than households’ . Second, there is substantially more heterogeneity in information frictions within households than within firms. Third, consistent with firms having stronger priors, they update their policy rate expectations significantly less compared to households when provided with an expert forecast. Our results have important implications for modelling heterogeneity in macroeconomic models.
1340 - Disguising prejudice : Popular rationales as excuses for intolerant expressionLeonardo Bursztyn, Ingar Haaland, Aakaash Rao & Chris Roth
We study how popular rationales enable public anti-minority actions. Rationales to oppose minorities genuinely persuade some people. But they also provide “excuses” that may reduce the stigma associated with anti-minority expression, thereby increasing anti-minority behavior. In a first experiment, participants learn that a previous respondent authorized a donation to an anti-immigrant organization and then make an inference about the respondent’s underlying motivations. Participants informed that their matched respondent learned about a study claiming that immigrants increase crime rates before authorizing the donation see the respondent as less intolerant. In a second experiment, participants learn about that same study and then choose whether to authorize a public donation to the anti-immigrant organization. Participants informed that their exposure to the rationale will be publicly observable are substantially more likely to make the donation than participants who are informed that their exposure will remain private. A final experiment shows that people are more willing to post anti-immigrant content on social media when they can use an anti-immigrant video clip from Fox News as an excuse. Our findings suggest that prominent public figures can lower the social cost of intolerant expression by popularizing rationales, increasing anti-minority expression.
1339 - Beliefs about racial discrimination and support for pro-black policiesIngar Haaland & Chris Roth
This paper provides representative evidence on beliefs about racial discrimination and examines whether information causally affects support for pro-black policies. Eliciting quantitative beliefs about the extent of hiring discrimination against blacks, we uncover large disagreement about the extent of racial discrimination with particularly pronounced partisan differences. An information treatment leads to a convergence in beliefs about racial discrimination but does not lead to a similar convergence in support of pro-black policies. The results demonstrate that while providing information can substantially reduce disagreement about the extent of racial discrimination, it is not sufficient to reduce disagreement about pro-black policies.
1338 - Attack and Interception in NetworksFrancis Bloch, Kalyan Chatterjee and Bhaskar Dutta
This paper studies a game of attack and interception in a network, where a single attacker chooses a target and a path, and each node chooses a level of protection. We show that the Nash equilibrium of the game exists and is unique. It involves a mixed strategy of the attacker except when one target has a very high value relative to others. We characterize equilibrium attack paths and attack distributions as a function of the underlying network and target values. We also show that adding a link or increasing the value of a target may harm the attacker - a comparative statics effect which is reminiscent of Braess's paradox in transportation economics. Finally, we contrast the Nash equilibrium with the equilibria of two variations of the model : one where nodes make sequential protection decisions upon observing the arrival of a suspicious object, and one where all nodes cooperate in defense.
1337 - Approximate Maximum Likelihood for Complex Structural ModelsVeronika Czellar, David T. Frazier and Eric Renault
Indirect Inference (I-I) is a popular technique for estimating complex parametric models whose likelihood function is intractable, however, the statistical efficiency of I-I estimation is questionable. While the efficient method of moments, Gallant and Tauchen (1996), promises efficiency, the price to pay for this efficiency is a loss of parsimony and thereby a potential lack of robustness to model misspecification. This stands in contrast to simpler I-I estimation strategies, which are known to display less sensitivity to model misspecification due in large part to their focus on specific elements of the underlying structural model. In this research, we propose a new simulation-based approach that maintains the parsimony of I-I estimation, which is often critical in empirical applications, but can also deliver estimators that are nearly as efficient as maximum likelihood. This new approach is based on using a constrained approximation to the structural model, which ensures identification and can deliver estimators that are consistent and nearly efficient. We demonstrate this approach through several examples, and show that this approach can deliver estimators that are nearly as efficient as maximum likelihood, when feasible, but can be employed in many situations where maximum likelihood is infeasible.
1336 - Weak Identification in Discrete Choice ModelsDavid T. Frazier, Eric Renault, Lina Zhang & Xueyan Zhao
We study the impact of weak identification in discrete choice models, and provide insights into the determinants of identification strength in these models. Using these insights, we propose a novel test that can consistently detect weak identification in commonly applied discrete choice models, such as probit, logit, and many of their extensions. Furthermore, we demonstrate that when the null hypothesis of weak identification is rejected, Wald-based inference can be carried out using standard formulas and critical values. A Monte Carlo study compares our proposed testing approach against commonly applied weak identification tests. The results simultaneously demonstrate the good performance of our approach and the fundamental failure of using conventional weak identification tests for linear models in the discrete choice model context. Furthermore, we compare our approach against those commonly applied in the literature in two empirical examples: married women labor force participation, and US food aid and civil conflicts.
1335 - An Adaptive Targeted Field Experiment : Job Search Assistance for Refugees in JordanStefano Caria, Grant Gordon, Maximilian Kasy, Simon Quinn, Soha Shami & Alexander Teytelboym
We introduce an adaptive targeted treatment assignment methodology for field experiments. Our Tempered Thompson Algorithm balances the goals of maximizing the precision of treatment effect estimates and maximizing the welfare of experimental participants. A hierarchical Bayesian model allows us to adaptively target treatments. We implement our methodology in Jordan, testing policies to help Syrian refugees and local jobseekers to find work. The immediate employment impacts of a small cash grant, information and psychological support are small, but targeting raises employment by 1 percentage-point (20%). After four months, cash has a sizable effect on employment and earnings of Syrians.
1334 - Measuring UK top incomesArun Advani, Andy Summers & Hannah Tarrant
We compare two approaches to measuring UK top income shares - the share of income going to particular subgroups, such as the top 1%. We set out four criteria that an ideal top share series should satisfy: (i) comparability between numerator and denominator ; (ii) comparability over time ; (iii) international comparability; and (iv) practical sustainability. Our preferred approach meets three of these; by contrast the approach currently used to produce UK fiscal income series meets none of them. Changing to our preferred approach matters quantitatively : the share of income going to the top 1% is 2 percentage points higher, but rising more slowly, than under the alternative.
1333 - Can Conditional Cash Transfer Defer Child Marriage? Impact of Kanyashree Prakalpa in West Bengal, IndiaSubhasish Dey & Tanisha Ghosal
This paper studies the impact of a conditional cash transfer program called Kanyashree Prakalpa (KP) in the Indian state of West Bengal that aimed to improve the status and well-being of girls by reducing incidence of child marriage and increasing the secondary or higher education of girls till at least 18 years of age. Using the data from multiple rounds of National Family Health Survey (NFHS), difference-in-differences and triple-difference are employed considering the younger cohort (exposed to the program) as the treated group, the older cohort (not exposed to the program) as the control group, and the neighbouring state of Jharkhand as a comparison state. The analysis suggests that the KP program has reduced the probability of child marriage by 6.7 percent and increased the probability of secondary or higher educational attainment by 6 percent. The study contributes to the scarce literature of the significant long-term impact of the KP program towards women’s well-being and empowerment.
1332 - In Vaccines We Trust? The Effects of the CIA's Vaccine Ruse on Immunization in PakistanMonica Martinez-Bravo & Andreas Stegmann
In July 2011, the Pakistani public learnt that the CIA had used a vaccination campaign as cover to capture Osama Bin Laden. The Taliban leveraged on this information and launched an anti-vaccine propaganda campaign to discredit vaccines and vaccination workers. We evaluate the effects of these events on immunization by implementing a Difference-in-Differences strategy across cohorts and districts. We find that vaccination rates declined 12 to 20% per standard deviation in support for Islamist parties. These results suggest that information discrediting vaccination campaigns can negatively affect trust in health services and demand for immunization
1331 - Risk Exposure and Acquisition of Macroeconomic InformationChristopher Roth, Sonja Settele & Johannes Wohlfart
We conduct an experiment with a representative sample from the US to study households’ demand for macroeconomic information. Respondents who learn of a higher personal exposure to unemployment risk during recessions increase their demand for an expert forecast about the likelihood of a recession. This finding is consistent with macroeconomic models of endogenous information acquisition, according to which the demand for information depends on its expected benefits. Moreover, respondents’ updating about their personal unemployment risk suggests that households are imperfectly informed about their exposure to aggregate fluctuations, which may distort their beliefs about the benefits of acquiring macroeconomic information.
1330 - Persecution and Escape : Professional Networks and High-Skilled Emigration from Nazi GermanySascha O Becker, Volker Lindenthal, Sharun Mukand & Fabian Waldinger
We study the role of professional networks in facilitating the escape of persecuted academics from Nazi Germany. From 1933, the Nazi regime started to dismiss academics of Jewish origin from their positions. The timing of dismissals created individual-level exogenous variation in the timing of emigration from Nazi Germany, allowing us to estimate the causal effect of networks for emigration decisions. Academics with ties to more colleagues who had emigrated in 1933 or 1934 (early émigrés) were more likely to emigrate. The early émigrés functioned as “bridging nodes” that helped other academics cross over to their destination. Furthermore, we provide some of the first empirical evidence of decay in social ties over time. The strength of ties also decays across space, even within cities. Finally, for high-skilled migrants, professional networks are more important than community networks.
1329 - Separating equilibria, under-pricing and security designDan Bernhardt, Kostas Koufopoulos and Giulio Trigilia
Classical security design papers equate competitive capital markets to securities being fairly priced in expectation. We revisit Nachman and Noe (1994)'s adverse selection setting, modeling capital-market competition as free entry of investors, and allowing firms to propose prices of securities, as happens in private securities placements and bank lending. We show that separating equilibria exist in which high types issue under-priced debt, while low types issue more informationally-sensitive securities (e.g., equity). We also uncover pooling equilibria in which firms issue under-priced debt. These results provide foundations for the pecking-order theory of external finance, and positive profits for uninformed lenders.
1328 - Profiting from the poor in competitive lending markets with adverse selectionDan Bernhardt, Kostas Koufopoulos and Giulio Trigilia
We provide theoretical foundations for positive lender profits in competitive credit markets with asymmetric information, where potential borrowers have scarce collateralizable assets. Strikingly, when some borrowers have negative net present value projects, an equilibrium always exists in which lenders make positive profits, despite their lack of `soft' information and free entry of competitors. We then establish that greater access to collateral for borrowers reduces lender profits, and we relate our findings to the empirical evidence on micro-credit, payday lending, and, more broadly, retail and small business financing.
1327 - The pitfalls of pledgeable cash flows : soft budget constraints, zombie lending and under-investmentDan Bernhardt , Kostas Koufopoulos and Giulio Trigilia
We show that when borrowers are privately informed about their creditworthiness and lenders have a soft budget constraint, efficient investment requires a limit on the fraction of a firm's cash flows that can be pledged to outsiders. That is, pledgeability should neither be too low nor too high. An increase in pledgeability, or, more broadly, creditor rights, can either promote re-investment in zombie firms, which increases other firms' cost of capital, or it can lead to insufficient underinvestment, depending on the composition of equilibrium credit demand. Thus, greater pledgeability can reduce net social surplus, and even trigger a Pareto loss.
1326 - Measuring national happiness with musicEmmanouil Benetos, Alessandro Ragano, Daniel Sgroi & Anthony Tuckwell
We propose a new measure for national happiness based on the emotional content of a country’s most popular songs. Using machine learning to detect the valence of the UK’s chart-topping song of each year since the 1970s, we find that it reliably predicts the leading survey-based measure of life satisfaction. Moreover, we find that music valence is better able to predict life satisfaction than a recently-proposed measure of happiness based on the valence of words in books (Hills et al., 2019). Our results have implications for the role of music in society, and at the same time validate a new use of music as a measure of public sentiment.
1325 - Online Salience and Charitable Giving : Evidence from SMS DonationsCarlo Perroni, Kimberley Scharf, Oleksandr Talavera & Linh Vi
We explore the link between online attention and charitable donations. Using a unique dataset on phone text donations that includes detailed information on the timing of cash gifts to charities, we link donations to time variation online searches for words that appear in those charities’ mission statements. The results suggest that an increase in the online salience to donors of the activities pursued by different charities affects the number and volume of donations made to those charities and to charities that pursue different goals. We uncover evidence of positive own salience effects and negative cross salience effects on donations.
1324 - Choosing the narrative : the shadow banking crisis in the light of CovidMarcus Miller
Could experiencing a health pandemic aid in understanding the nature of financial crisis? It might, for example, help to discriminate between different narratives that claim to do so. In this spirit, two influential accounts of the near-collapse of shadow banking in the US financial crisis of 2008 are analysed: one developed by Mark Gertler and Nobuhiro Kiyotaki and the other presented by the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission of the US Congress. Using a common two-sector framework, key features of these contrasting accounts of the market for banking services are presented, along with their corresponding diagnoses of what precipitated financial crisis. To see what the experience of Covid might imply about their relative credibility, four aspects of the current pandemic are considered: how it began from a small biological shock; how it gets spread by contagion; the significance of externalities; and how it may end with a vaccine. But the reader is left to form his or her own judgement
1323 - Supply shocks in China hit the world economy via global supply chainsQianxue Zhang
Global supply chains have become increasingly important in international trade over the past decade. Nevertheless, it remains di cult to quantify the role of supply-chain trade in transmitting and amplifying shocks, given the challenge of identifying and tracing the exogenous shocks across economies. This paper argues that the lockdown of Hubei province in China due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak provides a natural experiment to study the importance of China's role in global value chains. Since the lockdown started during the Lunar New Year, Hubei's migrant workers who went home could not return to workplaces in other provinces, resulting in a massive labor supply shock. I feed the supply shock through a Ricardian model with intermediate goods and sectoral linkages to study trade and welfare effects across several economies. While welfare in China is the most strongly affected, the shock also has sizeable implications for the US and the UK. However, close neighbours such as South Korea and Japan gain from the shock. There are large variations regarding the sectoral contributions to the aggregate welfare changes. The model also performs well in predicting bilateral export changes.
1322 - Jesus speaks Korean : Christianity and literacy in colonial KoreaSascha O. Becker & Cheongyeon Won
In the mid 19th century, pre-colonial Korea under the Joseon dynasty was increasingly isolated and lagging behind in its economic development. Joseon Korea was forced to sign unequal treaties with foreign powers as a result of which Christian missionaries entered the country and contributed to the establishment of private schools. We show that areas with a larger presence of Christians have higher literacy rates in 1930, during the Japanese colonial period. We also show that a higher number of Protestants is associated with higher female literacy, consistent with a stronger emphasis on female education in Protestant denominations.