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Working Papers

Working Papers

  • WP 12-08R3 | Evidence of Neighborhood Effects from Moving to Opportunity: LATEs of Neighborhood Quality

    Dionissi Aliprantis Francisca Richter

    Original Paper: WP 12-08R2


    This paper estimates neighborhood effects on adult labor market outcomes using the Moving to Opportunity (MTO) housing mobility experiment. We propose and implement a new strategy for identifying transition-specific effects that exploits identification of the unobserved component of a neighborhood choice model. Estimated Local Average Treatment Effects (LATEs) are large, result from moves between the first and second deciles of the national distribution of neighborhood quality, and pertain to a subpopulation of nine percent of program participants.   Read More

  • WP 19-27 | Job-to-Job Flows and the Consequences of Job Separations

    Bruce Fallick John Haltiwanger Erika McEntarfer Matthew Staiger


    A substantial empirical literature documents large and persistent average earnings losses following job displacement. Our paper extends the literature on displaced workers by providing a comprehensive picture of earnings and employment outcomes for all workers who separate. We show that for workers not recalled to their previous employer, earnings losses follow separations in general, as opposed to displacements in particular. The key predictor of earnings losses is not displacement but the length of the nonemployment spell following job separation. Moreover, displaced workers are no more likely to experience a substantial spell of nonemployment than are other non-recalled separators. Our results suggest that future research on the consequences of job loss should work to disentangle the strong association between nonemployment and earnings losses, as opposed to focusing specifically on displaced workers.   Read More

  • WP 19-28 | The Macroeconomic Effects of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act

    Filippo Occhino


    This paper studies the macroeconomic effects of seven key TCJA provisions, including the tax cuts for individuals and businesses, the bonus depreciation of equipment, the amortization of R&D expenses, and the limits on interest deductibility. I use a dynamic general equilibrium model with interest deductibility and accelerated depreciation. I find that, initially, the tax reform had a small positive impact on output and investment. In the medium term, however, the effect on output will diminish, and the effect on investment will turn negative. The tax reform will depress investment in R&D. Government debt will surge.   Read More

  • WP 19-02R2 | Landlords and Access to Opportunity

    Dionissi Aliprantis Hal Martin David Phillips

    Original Paper: WP 19-02R


    Landlords in high-opportunity neighborhoods screen out tenants using vouchers. In our correspondence experiment, signaling voucher status cuts landlord responses in half. This voucher penalty increases with posted rent and varies little with signals of tenant quality and race. We repeat the experiment after a policy change and test how landlords respond to raising voucher payment limits by $450 per month in high-rent neighborhoods. Most landlords do not change their screening behavior; those who do respond are few and operate at small scale. Our results suggest a successful, systematic policy of moving to opportunity would require more direct engagement with landlords.   Read More

  • WP 19-26 | The Optimal Taxation of Business Owners

    Tom Phelan


    Business owners in the United States are disproportionately represented among the very wealthy and are exposed to substantial idiosyncratic risk. Further, recent evidence indicates business income primarily reflects returns to the human (rather than financial) capital of the owner. Motivated by these facts, this paper characterizes the optimal taxation of income and wealth in an environment where business income depends jointly on innate ability, luck, and the accumulated past effort exerted by the owner. I show that in (constrained) efficient allocations, more productive entrepreneurs typically bear more risk and that the associated stationary distributions of income, wealth, and firm size exhibit the thick right (Pareto) tails observed in the data. Finally, when owners may save in a risk-free bond and trade shares of their business, I show that the optimal linear taxes in this environment call for positive taxes on firm profits and risk-free savings, and for a tax/subsidy on wealth that may assume either sign. [Note: The final sentence of the abstract was revised for clarity two days after the paper was initially posted.]   Read More

  • WP 18-07R2 | Opioids and the Labor Market

    Dionissi Aliprantis Kyle Fee Mark E. Schweitzer

    Original Paper: WP 18-07R


    This paper studies the relationship between local opioid prescription rates and labor market outcomes for prime-age men and women between 2006 and 2016. We estimate the relationship at the most disaggregated level feasible in the American Community Survey in order to provide estimates that include rural areas that have, in some cases, seen particularly high prescription rates. Given the limited time period, it is particularly important to account for geographic variation in both short-term and long-term economic conditions. We estimate three panel models to control for evolving local economic conditions: a difference-in-differences specification, a specification with specific controls for economic conditions, and a model that focuses on a comparison group of place with similar performance in 2000. These modelling approaches find a range of statistically significant and economically substantial results for both prime-age men and women. For example, we find that a 10 percent higher local prescription rate is associated with a decrease in the prime-age labor force participation rate of between 0.15 and 0.47 percentage points for men and between 0.15 and 0.19 percentage points for women, depending on the control strategy. We also estimate effects for narrower demographic groups and find substantially larger estimates for some groups, notably for white and minority men with less than a BA. We also present evidence on reverse causality. We show that a short-term unemployment shock did not increase the share of people misusing prescription opioids and that prescription levels vary substantially within quintiles of longer-term labor market performance. Our estimates are generally robust to estimation within those quintiles of 2000 labor market performance. These results argue against theories of reverse causation that rely on prescriptions rates being higher in labor markets that were already weaker.   Read More

  • WP 19-25 | The Propagation of Monetary Policy Shocks in a Heterogeneous Production Economy

    Ernesto Pasten Raphael Schoenle Michael Weber


    Realistic heterogeneity in price rigidity interacts with heterogeneity in sectoral size and input-output linkages in the transmission of monetary policy shocks. Quantitatively, heterogeneity in price stickiness is the central driver for real effects. Input-output linkages and consumption shares alter the identity of the most important sectors to the transmission. Reducing the number of sectors decreases monetary non-neutrality with a similar impact response of inflation. Hence, the initial response of inflation to monetary shocks is not sufficient to discriminate across models and ignoring heterogeneous consumption shares and input-output linkages identifies the wrong sectors from which the real effects originate.   Read More

  • WP 19-23 | The Roles of Price Points and Menu Costs in Price Rigidity

    Edward S. Knotek II


    Macroeconomic models often generate nominal price rigidity via menu costs. This paper provides empirical evidence that treating menu costs as a structural explanation for sticky prices may be spurious. Using scanner data, I note two empirical facts: (1) price points, embodied in nine-ending prices, account for approximately two-thirds of prices; and (2) at the conclusion of sales, post-sale prices return to their pre-sale levels more than three-fourths of the time. I construct a model that nests roles for menu costs and price points and estimate model variants. Excluding the two facts yields a statistically and economically significant role for menu costs in generating price rigidity. Incorporating the two facts yields an incentive to set nine-ending prices two orders of magnitude larger than the menu costs. In this setting, the price point model can match the two stylized facts, but menu costs are effectively irrelevant as a source of price rigidity. The choice of a mechanism for price rigidity matters for aggregate dynamics.   Read More

  • WP 19-24 | The Effects of Price Endings on Price Rigidity: Evidence from VAT Changes

    Edward S. Knotek II Doron Sayag Avichai Snir


    We document a causal role for price endings in generating micro and macro price rigidity. Based on micro price data underlying the consumer price index in Israel, we document that most stores have a favored price ending—a final digit, usually a zero or nine, used by a majority of prices in that store—and that these favored price endings are utilized extensively. Using changes to the VAT rate as exogenous cost shocks that affect prices regardless of ending, we find that the frequency of price adjustment for nonfavored endings increases by twice as much as the frequency of adjustment for favored endings in months when the VAT rate changes. In the aggregate, sluggish pass-through of VAT rate changes is due to favored endings; changes in the VAT rate are passed through fully and immediately to nonfavored endings.   Read More

  • WP 19-20 | Banker Compensation, Relative Performance, and Bank Risk

    Edward S. Prescott Arantxa Jarque


    A multi-agent, moral-hazard model of a bank operating under deposit insurance and limited liability is used to analyze the connection between compensation of bank employees (below CEO) and bank risk. Limited liability with deposit insurance is a force that distorts effort down. However, the need to increase compensation to risk-averse employees in order to compensate them for extra bank risk is a force that reduces this effect. Optimal contracts use relative performance and are implementable as a wage with bonuses tied to individual and firm performance. The connection between pay for performance and bank risk depends on correlation of returns. If employee returns are uncorrelated, the form of pay is irrelevant for risk. If returns are perfectly correlated, a low wage can indicate risk. Connections to compensation regulation and characteristics of organizations are discussed.   Read More