Matching Items (14)

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Essays in education and macroeconomics

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This dissertation consists of three essays on education and macroeconomics. The first chapter analyzes whether public education financing systems can account for large differences among developed countries in earnings inequality and intergenerational earnings persistence. I first document facts about public

This dissertation consists of three essays on education and macroeconomics. The first chapter analyzes whether public education financing systems can account for large differences among developed countries in earnings inequality and intergenerational earnings persistence. I first document facts about public education in the U.S. and Norway, which provide an interesting case study because they have very different earnings distributions and public education systems. An overlapping generations model is calibrated to match U.S. data, and tax and public education spending functions are estimated for each country. The benchmark exercise finds that taxes and public education spending account for about 15% of differences in earnings inequality and 10% of differences in intergenerational earnings persistence between the U.S. and Norway. Differences in private education spending and early childhood education investments are also shown to be quantitatively important. The second chapter develops a life-cycle model to study increases in college completion and average ability of college students born from 1900 to 1972. The model is disciplined with new historical data on real college costs from printed government surveys. I find that increases in college completion for 1900 to 1950 cohorts are due primarily to changes in college costs, which generate large endogenous increases in college enrollment. Additionally, I find strong evidence that post-1950 cohorts under-predicted large increases in the college earnings premium. Modifying the model to restrict perfect foresight of the education premia generates a slowdown in college completion consistent with empirical evidence for post-1950 cohorts. Lastly, I find that increased sorting of students by ability can be accounted for by increasingly precise ability signals over time. The third chapter assesses how structural transformation is affected by sectoral differences in labor-augmenting technological progress, capital intensity, and capital-labor substitutability. CES production functions are estimated for agriculture, manufacturing, and services on post-war U.S. data. I find that sectoral differences in labor-augmenting technological progress are the dominant force behind changes in sectoral labor and relative prices. Therefore, Cobb-Douglas production functions with labor-augmenting technological change capture the main technological forces behind post-war U.S. structural transformation.

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Date Created
2013

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Essays in misallocation and economic development

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The dissertation consists of two essays in misallocation and development. In particular, the essays explore how government policies distort resource allocation across production units, and therefore affect aggregate economic and environmental outcomes.

The first chapter studies the aggregate consequences

The dissertation consists of two essays in misallocation and development. In particular, the essays explore how government policies distort resource allocation across production units, and therefore affect aggregate economic and environmental outcomes.

The first chapter studies the aggregate consequences of misallocation in a firm dynamics model with multi-establishment firms. I calibrate my model to the US firm size distribution with respect to both the number of employees and the number of establishments, and use it to study distortions that are correlated with establishment size, or so-called size-dependent distortions to establishments, which are modeled as implicit output taxes. In contrast to previous studies, I find that size-dependent distortions are not more damaging to aggregate productivity and output than size-independent distortions, while the implicit tax revenue approximately summarizes the effects on aggregate output. I also use the model to compare the effects of size-dependent distortions to establishments and to firms, and find that they have different effects on firm size distribution, but have similar effects on aggregate output.

The second chapter studies the effects of product market frictions on firm size distribution and their implications for industrial pollution in China. Using a unique micro-level manufacturing census, I find that larger firms generate and emit less pollutants per unit of production. I also provide evidence suggesting the existence of size-dependent product market frictions that disproportionately affect larger firms. Using a model with firms heterogeneous in productivity and an endogenous choice of pollution treatment technology, I show that these frictions result in lower adoption rate of clean technology, higher pollution and lower aggregate output. I use the model to evaluate policies that eliminate size-dependent frictions, and those that increase environmental regulation. Quantitative results show that eliminating size-dependent frictions increases output by 30%. Meanwhile, the fraction of firms using clean technology increases by 27% and aggregate pollution decreases by 20%. In contrast, a regulatory policy which increases the clean technology adoption rate by the same 27%, has no effect on aggregate output and leads to only 10% reduction in aggregate pollution.

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Date Created
2016

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Essays on the macroeconomic effects of taxation

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This dissertation is a collection of two essays relating to the dynamic effects of taxation.

In the first chapter, I focus on a key challenge faced by tax reforms: their short-run

welfare consequences. I examine a consumption-based tax reform that, despite the

This dissertation is a collection of two essays relating to the dynamic effects of taxation.

In the first chapter, I focus on a key challenge faced by tax reforms: their short-run

welfare consequences. I examine a consumption-based tax reform that, despite the long-run welfare gains it generates, causes the welfare for some groups such as retirees or the working poor to fall during transition between steady states. Using a life-cycle model with heterogeneous households, I show how to devise a transition path from the current U.S. federal tax system to a consumption-based tax system that improves the welfare of current generations as well as those who are born in the long-run steady state. In a nutshell, all households alive at the time of the policy change can choose when they want to switch to the new tax system, or whether they want to switch at all. I find that implementing a tax reform with this feature improves the welfare of 95% of the population in the short run, compared to less than 25% of population in the conventional case with no choice. It takes about 20 years for half of the population to pay their taxes under the new tax code.

In the second chapter, I study the aggregate consequences of the differential tax treatments of U.S. businesses focusing on the role of legal forms of organization. I develop an industry equilibrium model in which the organizational form is an endogenous choice.

This model incorporates the key trade-off that businesses face when choosing their legal forms: the tax treatment of the business income; the access to external capital, and the potential level and evolution of productivity over time.

The model is matched to the firm dynamic features of U.S. businesses and the contributing share of each legal form in total output. Using the model, I study revenue-neutral tax reforms in which legal forms receive the same tax treatments, and

I find that the incentives induced by tax structure for organizational form and external finance are both large. Relative to the benchmark economy, unifying the tax code for all legal forms, can lead to 8% increase in the aggregate output.

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Date Created
2018

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Essays on Human Capital, Fertility, and Child Development

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This dissertation consists of two chapters. The first chapter studies children's skill formation technology while endogenizing the maternal age and child investments. I estimate the effect of a mother's age at childbirth on her child's health, skill level, educational attainment,

This dissertation consists of two chapters. The first chapter studies children's skill formation technology while endogenizing the maternal age and child investments. I estimate the effect of a mother's age at childbirth on her child's health, skill level, educational attainment, and adulthood earnings. There is a tradeoff between delaying childbirth to provide a more secure economic environment for mother and child versus the potential negative biological consequences for a child of having an older parent. I quantify this tradeoff. The results indicate that a five-year decrease in the maternal age of educated women, ceteris paribus, results in over 0.50 std increase in the child’s skill level due to an increase in the child’s ability to acquire skills. However, if one adjusts child investment according to individuals’ wage profile conditional on reduced maternal age, the average child’s skill level decreases by 0.07 std. This reduction in children’s skill highlights the impact of lower inputs that children of younger mothers receive. The negative effect of foregone wages may be reduced through policy approaches. My policy analysis indicates implementing a two-year maternity leave policy that freezes mothers’ wages at the level before childbirth would reduce average maternal age at the first birth by about two years, while also increasing the average child’s skill level by about 0.22 std and future earnings by over 6%.

In chapter two, I study the impact of females' perceptions regarding their future fertility behavior on their human capital investments and labor market outcomes. I exploit a natural experiment to study the causal effect of fertility anticipation on individual's investments in human capital. I use the arguably exogenous variation in gender mix of children as an exogenous shock to the probability of further fertility. I document that having two children of the same gender is associated with about 5% lower wages for the mother compared to having two children of the opposite sexes. Mothers with same-sex children perceive themselves as more likely to bear one more child, and so less attached to the labor market, so invest less in human capital, and this is reflected in wages today.

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Date Created
2019

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Essays in Economic Development

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This dissertation consists in two chapters. In the first chapter I collected and digitized historical tax records from the Spanish colonial regime in Ecuador to estimate the long-run effects of a forced labor institution called concertaje on today’s economic performance.

This dissertation consists in two chapters. In the first chapter I collected and digitized historical tax records from the Spanish colonial regime in Ecuador to estimate the long-run effects of a forced labor institution called concertaje on today’s economic performance. This institution allowed landlords to retain indigenous workers due to unpaid debts, and forced them to work as peasants in rural estates known as haciendas. In order to identify the causal effects of concertaje, I exploit variation in its intensity caused by differences in labor requirements from the crops a region could grow. I first report that an increase in 10 percentage points in concertaje rates is associated with a 6 percentage points increase in contemporary poverty. I then explore several channels of persistence. Districts with higher concertaje rates have been historically associated with higher illiteracy rates, lower school enrollment, and populations with fewer years of education. I also report that concertaje is associated with a higher fraction of people working nowadays in the agricultural sector.

In the second chapter I use administrative data on the ownership, management, and taxes for the universe of all firms in Ecuador to study the role of family management in firm dynamics and its implications for aggregate productivity. A novel finding I document is that family-managed firms grow half as quickly as externally-managed firms. This growth differential implies that family-managed firms account for half of employment, despite comprising 80% of firms. I construct a general equilibrium model of firm dynamics that is consistent with these facts. Entrepreneurs choose whether to utilize family members as managers or hire external managers. External managers allow firms to scale up production, but their efficiency is a affected due to contractual frictions. Changes in the contractual environment that lead to a drop in the presence of family-managed firms by half could increase output on the order of 6%, as firms that abandon family management enjoy rapid growth.

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Date Created
2019

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Essays in open economy development

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This dissertation consists of two essays that deal with the development of open developing economies. These economies have experienced drastic divergence in terms of economic growth from the 1970s through the 2010s. One important feature of those countries that have

This dissertation consists of two essays that deal with the development of open developing economies. These economies have experienced drastic divergence in terms of economic growth from the 1970s through the 2010s. One important feature of those countries that have lagged behind is their failure to build up their domestic innovation capacity.

Abstract The first chapter discusses the policies that may have an impact on the long-run innovation capacity of developing economies. The existing literature emphasizes that the backward linkage of foreign-owned firms is a key to determining whether FDI is beneficial or detrimental to a domestic economy. However, little empirical evidence has shown which aspects of FDI policies lead to a strong backward linkage between foreign-owned and domestic firms. This paper focuses on the foreign ownership structure of these foreign-owned firms. I show that joint ventures (i.e, firms with 1%-99% foreign share) have stronger backward linkages than MNC affiliates (i.e, firms with 100% foreign share) with domestic firms. I also find that the differences in backward linkages are strong enough to translate into a positive correlation between domestic innovation and the density of joint ventures and a negative correlation between domestic innovation and the density of MNC affiliates. Finally, I find that the channel through which foreign ownership structure affects domestic innovation raises innovation TFP in domestic firms. My results suggest that policies that affect the foreign ownership structure of foreign-owned firms could have a persistent effect on domestic innovation because they shift the comparative advantage of an developing economy towards the innovation sector in the long run.

Abstract The second chapter provides a unified theory to study what causes the divergence in economic growth of developing economies and how the innovation sector emerges in the developing countries. I show that open developing economies become trapped at the middle-income level because they tend not to specialize in sectors that generate spillover or factor accumulation (the innovation sector). Using a dynamic Heckscher-Ohlin (H-O) model, I show that the fast growth of developing economies tends to end before they can fully catch up with the developed world, and the innovation sector will not operate in the developing countries. However, the successful growth stories of Korea and Taiwan challenge this view. In order to explore the economic miracle that happened in Korea and Taiwan, I generalize a dynamic Heckscher-Ohlin (H-O) model by introducing technology adoption and explore how it generates spillovers to domestic innovation. I show that countries with policies that encourage technology adoption will benefit most from FDI: in addition to the fact that foreign technology raises productivity in the host country, the demand for skilled labor to adopt these technologies raises the education level in equilibrium, which benefits domestic innovation and leads to catch-up in the long run.

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Date Created
2015

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Essays on Public Policy and Consumption Responses

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This dissertation focuses on consequences of public policy on consumption responses.

Chapter 1 evaluates the effect of Thailand's car tax rebate scheme in 2012 on household consumption by examining aggregate and administrative data. Car sales doubled during the policy

This dissertation focuses on consequences of public policy on consumption responses.

Chapter 1 evaluates the effect of Thailand's car tax rebate scheme in 2012 on household consumption by examining aggregate and administrative data. Car sales doubled during the policy and dramatically declined afterwards while domestic household spending was sluggish following the policy, suggesting a substantial dampening effect of the policy on future household consumption.

Chapter 2 develops a formal model to evaluate Thai household consumption responses. A life-cycle model of consumption and saving is developed with features including uninsured income risks, liquidity constraints, durable goods with embedded adjustment costs and non-homothetic preference in durable goods. Adjustment costs and liquidity constraints are important frictions in the evaluation of the shorter-term responses to changes in relative prices, while non-homotheticity captures the income effect given that cars are luxury goods in the Thai economy context. Key parameters and the partial equilibrium responses, which are key inputs to inform the aggregate outcome of the policy, are estimated. The results show that the car-tax rebates had a sizable impact on slowing Thai household consumption following the policy due to high level of elasticity of intertemporal substitution among Thai households.

Chapter 3 examines the effect of public smoking bans in the EU countries. Using individual-level data, this chapter investigates whether nationwide smoke-free laws in Europe lead to higher smoking reduction and cessation rates among mature smokers. Exploiting the different timing in imposing smoking ban laws and using a difference-in-differences approach, I find that light smokers and heavy smokers were more likely to quit smoking after comprehensive bans were in place while there was no significant effect on average smokers. The results confirm that smoking bans, particularly when enforced more strictly and comprehensively, lead to higher smoking cessation rates even among mature smokers with well-established addiction.

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Date Created
2018

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Two Essays on Spatial Skill Sorting and Household Saving Behavior

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This dissertation studies two wide ranging phenomena and their socio-economic impacts: urban divergence in terms of geographical skill sorting and fast rising housing prices. The first essay explores the empirical pattern as well as the driving forces behind the American

This dissertation studies two wide ranging phenomena and their socio-economic impacts: urban divergence in terms of geographical skill sorting and fast rising housing prices. The first essay explores the empirical pattern as well as the driving forces behind the American cities’ diverging path over the past forty years. Compared to the rest of the U.S. cities, the top 20 largest cities have been growing faster in several aspects, such as city-average wage, housing price, and measured innovation intensity (e.g., patents, venture capital). In addition, this geographical divergence has contributed substantially to the rising inequality in America. To explore the causes of this divergence, this paper constructs a spatial sorting model where entrepreneurs with different talents can freely move across cities. The key idea is that cities with advantages in innovation attract more productive entrepreneurs and more workers, thereby driving up wages and housing prices. Two things distinguish my models from others: 1. Large cities are having endogenous innovation advantage in equilibrium; 2. I can freely explore the driving forces behind the divergence, with an emphasis on how technology changes can reinforce the spatial sorting mechanism. Specifically, three types of technological changes have increased the benefits of skill clustering in innovative cities: general productivity increases; improvements in communications technologies; and declines in trade costs.

The second essay studies how heterogeneous households respond to the fast rising housing prices through their life-cycle behaviors. Chinese housing market has been undergoing a rapid booming period since 1998, causing the house prices increasing significantly. As a result, households endured severe financial burdens to buy homes at price-to-income ratios of around six. Along with the rising house prices, household savings rate has been increasing consistently since 1998. Can the rising house prices be an important factor to explain the increase in household saving rate? This paper develops a life cycle dynastic model with endogenous choice on housing, coresidence and intergenerational transfer, then quantitatively analyze the effect of housing price on household saving. It shows that housing is an important motive for saving, and it accounts for about 35% of the increase in household savings rate. The housing situation affects households’ saving behavior through three channels. First, households are financially constrained due to the down payment requirement and they choose to limit their consumption in order to buy houses. Second, young adults live in their parents’ houses for a long time and save more intensively, since they get to pay less for the housing expenses under coresidence. Thirdly, older parents make large sum of intergeneration transfer in aid of the children’s housing purchase, indicating the housing affordability issue also has influence on old parents’ saving decisions.

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Date Created
2018

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Essays on human capital, taxation, and adverse selection

Description

This dissertation consists of three chapters. The first two explore the impact of government policies on human capital accumulation.

Chapter one makes two novel contributions related to the two workhorse models in the human capital literature: Learning by Doing (LBD) and

This dissertation consists of three chapters. The first two explore the impact of government policies on human capital accumulation.

Chapter one makes two novel contributions related to the two workhorse models in the human capital literature: Learning by Doing (LBD) and Ben-Porath (BP).

First, I show that BP is much more consistent with empirical life-cycle patterns related to individual earnings growth rates relative to LBD.

Second, I show that the same model features that generate different life-cycle predictions between models also generate different policy implications. In particular, increasing the top marginal labor tax rate, relative to the current US level, generates much larger reductions in lifetime human capital accumulation in the BP model versus the LBD model.

Chapter two examines reforms to the Social Security taxable earnings cap in the context of a human capital model. Old age Social Security benefits in the US are funded by a 10.6% payroll tax up to a cap of $118,500. There has been little work examining the likely outcomes of such a policy change. I use a life-cycle BP human capital model with heterogeneous individuals to investigate the aggregate and distributional steady state impacts of several policy changes the earnings cap. I find that when I eliminate the cap: (1) aggregate output and consumption fall substantially; (2) the role of endogenous human capital is first order; (3) total federal tax revenues are lower or roughly unchanged; (4) about 1/3 of workers are made worse off.

The final chapter studies the existence and optimality of equilibria in the presence of asymmetric information. I develop an equilibrium concept which corresponds to the presence of mutual insurance organizations for a class of adverse selection economies which includes the Spence (1973) signaling and Rothschild-Stiglitz (1976) insurance environments. The defining features of a mutual insurance organization are that policy holders are also the owners of the organization, and that the organization can write policies for which the terms depend on the experience of the mutual members. In general the equilibrium exists and is weakly Pareto optimal. Further, all equilibria have the same individual type utility vector.

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Date Created
2016

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Essays on economic growth and structural transformation

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This dissertation consists of three essays on modern economic growth and structural transformation, in particular touching on the reallocation of labor across industries, occupations, and employment statuses.

The first chapter investigates the quantitative importance of non-employment in the labor market outcomes

This dissertation consists of three essays on modern economic growth and structural transformation, in particular touching on the reallocation of labor across industries, occupations, and employment statuses.

The first chapter investigates the quantitative importance of non-employment in the labor market outcomes for the United States. During the last 50 years, production has shifted from goods to services. In terms of occupations, the routine employment share decreased, giving way to increases in manual and abstract ones. These two patterns are related, and lower non-employment had an important role. A labor allocation model where goods, market services, and home services use different tasks as inputs is used for quantitative exercises. These show that non-employment could significantly slow down polarization and structural transformation, and induce significant displacement within the labor force.

The second chapter, coauthored with Bart Hobijn and Todd Schoellman, looks at the demographic structure of structural transformation. More than half of labor reallocation during structural transformation is due to new cohorts disproportionately entering growing industries. This suggests substantial costs to labor reallocation. A model of overlapping generations with life-cycle career choice under switching costs and structural transformation is studied. Switching costs accelerate structural transformation, since forward-looking workers enter growing industries in anticipation of future wage growth. Most of the impact of switching costs shows on relative wages.

The third chapter establishes that job polarization is a global phenomenon. The analysis of polarization is extended from a group of developed countries to a sample of 119 economies. At all levels of development, employment shares in routine occupations have decreased since the 1980s. This suggests that routine occupations are becoming increasingly obsolete throughout the world, rather than being outsourced to developing countries. A development accounting framework with technical change at the \textit{task} level is proposed. This allows to quantify and extrapolate task-specific productivity levels. Recent technological change is biased against routine occupations and in favor of manual occupations. This implies that in the following decades, world polarization will continue: employment in routine occupations will decrease, and the reallocation will happen mostly from routine to manual occupations, rather than to abstract ones.

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Date Created
2019