Autumn 2015

Dondena Seminar Series
Fall 2015
All seminars (and light lunches!) will begin at 12:45 p.m. and be held in Room 3-e4-sr03, unless otherwise noted.
Titles and abstracts will be posted as they become available.
Download the series poster here.
28 September
Michela Redoano
The University of Warwick

Political Competition, Tax Salience and Accountability. Theory and Some Evidence from Italy
We look at  the relationship between  political competition and policy makers' incentives on how to raise fiscal revenue. We show that high political competition  does not necessarily increase political accountability, as previous research has shown, but it may induce an opposite effect. We develop a simple political economy model to show that when political competition is strong and, therefore, incumbent policy makers face a high chance of loosing elections, they tend to rely relatively more on less salient tax instruments, weakening voters' ability to hold them accountable, and improving their electoral prospects. These predictions are largely con rmed using a dataset on Italian municipal elections and taxes.


5 October
Alan Fernihough
Queen's University Belfast

Human Capital and the Quantity-Quality Trade-Off during the Demographic Transition
Empirical testing of the quantity-quality (QQ) trade-off in children predicted by unified growth theory is problematic because the fertility transition occurred before the start of reliable individual demographic data in most Western economies. However, there is an exception that we analyze here: Ireland. Using the individual census returns from the 1911 Irish census, we examine whether children who attended school were from smaller families---as predicted by a standard QQ model. To measure causal effects, we use a selection of models that are robust to endogeneity concerns, which we validate in this setting by using an Empirical Monte Carlo analysis. Our results show that a child remaining in school between the ages of 14 and 16 caused up to a 27\% reduction in fertility. Our results are robust to alternative estimation techniques with different modeling assumptions, sample selection, and alternative definitions of fertility. These findings highlight the importance of the demographic transition as a mechanism which underpinned the expansion in human capital witnessed in Western economies during the 20th century.

12 October
Albert Esteve
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Cohabitation and Marriage in the Americas: Geo-historical Legacies and New Trends
In this presentation, I document the very considerable rise in unmarried cohabitation in the Americas since the 1970s. I trace the social and geographic profiles of unmarried cohabitation to unveil the rich social and spatial heterogeneity in cohabitation. I show that the effects of social stratification, religion and ethnicity are continuing to be of major importance and that historical pattern of disadvantage is still in evidence, virtually everywhere in the Americas. This not only holds at the individual level but at the contextual level as well.  In all countries for which contextual analyses could be performed with a finer spatial resolution, it was found that the contextual effects were highly significant and, even more importantly, entirely robust for controls for individual characteristics, which remind us that individuals have histories, but regions have much longer histories.  Nevertheless, an entirely new wave of change started rolling over the pre-existing patterns from the 1970s onward. I will discuss the convergence of these trends to the Second Demographic Transition.

26 October
Joan Esteban
Barcelona GSE - Graduate School of Economics

Liberty, Equality, Religiosity
We study the role of religiosity in political choices such as
redistribution and individual liberties. To a standard model with consumption and effort, we add a third good: civil liberties with a cap established by law. More liberties, like divorce, abortion, gender parity, or gay marriage, may be considered good by the secular and detrimental by the religious individuals. With standard assumptions on individual preferences, this implies that labor supply and income are lower for religious individuals in the presence of liberties. As a result there is a higher share of religious individuals among the poor, consistent with evidence that the poor care more about \textquotedblleft moral values\textquotedblright . Still, we show that poor religious agents may prefer low taxes: such individuals also prefer that society restricts liberties, which suppresses income inequality and thus induces preferences for low taxes. We also show that restriction of liberties can arise as an equilibrium outcome of a simple political process when society is sufficiently religious. Moreover, if economic polarisation is lower than religious polarisation, such restriction of liberties results in lower taxation.

2 November
Kaisa Kotakorpi 
University of Turku

Complexity, salience and income tax reporting behaviour: Evidence from a natural experiment
We estimate the effect of the details of the income tax filing system on taxpayers' reporting behaviour, utilising data from a Finnish policy experiment. We find that receiving a (partially) prefilled income tax return lead to a significant reduction in non-prefilled deductions and self-reported income, and an increase in deductions that were prefilled in the new system. We discuss complexity and compliance costs, salience effects, and changes in the opportunities for tax evasion as possible explanations for our findings.

9 November
Carlo Giovanni Camarda 
INED - Institut national d'études démographiques

Modelling and decomposing vital rates: A non-parametric approach
Demographic events have characteristic age-specific patterns of occurrence. Finding model schedules to summarize the age-pattern of demographic rates has a long tradition, however, parametric models are predominantly used. Many demographic rates shows complex shape in their overall age-pattern. However such pattern can be attributed to different distinct components. While some of the components can be described by a parametric model, such as the Gompertz hazard for adult mortality, many others cannot. Additional complication arises if data are provided in age groups, which is still the case in many official statistics and historical data. In the article we propose a model that allows to specify rates across a wide range of ages as the sum of several components, which are modelled on the log scale and are assumed to be smooth, but do not have to follow a particular parametric form. A penalized composite link model is used to decompose complex trajectories into smooth additive components. Parametric and non-parametric forms can be used. Data can be given in age-groups which can eventually be of variable lengths. Furthermore, monotonicity or shape constraints on the components can be incorporated and the model can cope with two-dimensional settings in which age-patterns change over time.

16 November CANCELLED
Marco Marsili 
Istat - Italian National Institute of Statistics

23 November
Mark Kayser 
Hertie School of Governance

The Materialist Vote: Why the Left is Punished More for Economic Crises
Voters often punish incumbent parties for poor economic performance; whether they treat left and right governments differently has been less clear. We leverage both observational and survey experimental data to establish an empirical regularity: voters, on average, punish left-of-center incumbents more severely for economic downturns than their counterparts on the right. A materialist model of voting best explains this regularity. When times get tough, voters prioritize government spending for domestic economic security over spending for socially desirable but less necessary policies.  Incumbent parties associated with luxury goods policies such as support for the arts or international aid -- mostly left parties -- are punished like any incumbent but additionally punished for their policies. During expansions, voters' policy preferences become more generous, advantaging the left, and providing governments with an electoral incentive for pro-cyclical fiscal policy.

Claudia Olivetti 
Boston College

Career Women and the Durability of Marriage

Last updated 27 December 2015 - 19:06:33