Institutions and economics

Florence Jaumotte, Carolina Osorio Buitron, 22 October 2015

Inequality in advanced economies has risen considerably since the 1980s, largely driven by the increase of top earners’ income shares. This column revisits the drivers of inequality, emphasising the role played by changes in labour market institutions. It argues that the decline in union density has been strongly associated with the rise of top income inequality and discusses the multiple channels through which unionisation matters for income distribution.

Cosimo Beverelli, Matteo Fiorini, Bernard Hoekman, 16 October 2015

There is some evidence suggesting a positive effect of services trade liberalisation on the productivity of manufacturing. This column argues that such an effect is conditional on the institutions within a country. Countries with better economic governance benefit more from open services trade policies. Higher quality institutions attract more productive services providers and support higher levels of services performance.

Ignacio Munyo, Martín Rossi, 03 July 2015

Sadly, a large number of crimes are committed by ex-prisoners on their first day of release. This column presents evidence showing that on any given day the number of inmates released from incarceration significantly affects the number of offences committed on that day. ‘First-day recidivism’ can be eliminated by an increase in the gratuity provided to prisoners at the time of their release. It’s much cheaper than any other option.

Orazio Attanasio, Costas Meghir, Corina Mommaerts, 01 May 2015

The significance of informal sources of insurance against income risk has important consequences for the design of social insurance programs. A particular concern is that public programs simply crowd out informal institutions. This column uses US household data to investigate whether the extended family acts as such an informal institution. Although there is a large potential for the family to insure against income shocks, no such insurance occurs. 

Andrei Markevich, Ekaterina Zhuravskaya, 28 February 2015

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