Social norms have been shown to have important effects on economic outcomes. This column discusses new evidence showing that social norms are deeply rooted in long-standing cultures, but do evolve in reaction to major changes. It draws on a fully global sample involving migrants in more than 130 countries, using seven waves of the Gallup World Poll.
Policies aimed at enhancing firm productivity may greatly benefit from firm-level evidence. Unfortunately, micro-founded data, particularly of cross-country nature, remain largely unavailable. This column presents a new firm-level database built by a research network of the EU system of Central banks (CompNet). This data base allows investigating how firm size and labour costs interact at different levels of productivity. This new cross-country data base, and its potential to expand, could be of great policy value.
The speed at which events in Ukraine are unfolding is astounding. This column argues that the real goal of Russian President Putin is to make the February 2014 changes look like a failure. Root causes of the Ukrainian protest also exist in Russia and a victory of reform forces in Kiev could encourage stronger protest movement in Russia than that of 2011-2013 and potentially lead to a similar outcome.
Recent research has sought to quantify the magnitude of the welfare gains from trade. One of the main findings from this literature is that the gains from trade are relatively modest. This column suggests a channel that the standard approach typically abstracts from. It argues that trade induces changes in domestic productivity through a more efficient organisation of production within the supply chain.
Firms hoping for regulatory favours may direct their business purchases towards firms controlled by politicians, who benefit from the additional revenue. This column provides evidence from Italy consistent with this channel. It shows that the share of advertising on Berlusconi’s televisions increased while he was in power, and this even more so in the most regulated industries.
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