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Info IEB. Las respuestas de los padres ante las distintas condiciones innatas de sus hijos. ¿Tienen los padres aversión a la desigualdad? Número 42. Diciembre 2022

Las desigualdades en la vida son debidas a múltiples factores, entre ellos el entorno en que crecen los individuos y sus diferencias innatas, como las relacionadas con la salud al nacer o, simplemente, las diferencias genéticas. Gran parte de la literatura económica y sobre psicología demuestra la importancia de las características que se configuran en la infancia a la hora de determinar el éxito futuro en la vida. Fundamentalmente, esta literatura señala que por lo menos el 50% de la variabilidad de las ganancias que obtienen las personas a lo largo de su vida pueden atribuirse a características que ya están determinadas a los 18 años (véase, por ejemplo, Heckman y Mosso, 2014). Ello indica que nuestros ingresos vienen determinados, en gran parte, por unas características que escapan a nuestra elección. ¿Significa esto que una parte de las desigualdades son simplemente el reflejo de las distintas dotaciones genéticas innatas y son inalterables? En absoluto. Las desigualdades basadas en diferencias en las características innatas pueden mejorarse, al igual que otras desigualdades, con medidas redistributivas, como las políticas compensatorias, o a través de inversiones por parte de los padres.

2022/09: (IN)convenient stores? What do policies pushing stores to town centres actually do?

England´s Town Centre First Policy, introduced in 1996, restricted the opening of new retail and other ‘traditional town centre activities’ to ‘Town Centre’ (TC) locations. The aim was to halt the decay of high streets. We explore the impact of the policy on the supply and location of grocery shops and patterns of shopping by comparing English with Scottish TCs before and after the policy change in England. Using store level census data, we show first that supply trends for grocery stores in TCs were similar in both countries prior to the implementation of the policy. After the policy took effect, however, stores in TCs increased relatively more strongly in England, but with no change in grocery employment. Second, using survey data, we show that the policy changed the composition of shops in TCs in favour of convenience-type shops supplied by the “big four” grocery chains. However, although it increased the number of TC shops, the policy had no effect on the number of shoppers choosing TC locations.

2022/08: The role of historic amenities in shaping cities

The existence of amenities matters to understanding people’s residential choices. Our theoretical model extends the standard urban model by introducing exogenous amenities to explain population allocation within cities. To estimate the model predictions, we focus on historic amenities using detailed geolocated data for 579 European cities. We analyze how the shape of city centers endowed or not endowed with these amenities is affected. We measure historic amenities with the location of buildings from the Roman, Medieval, and Renaissance-Baroque periods. Our results show that cities with historic buildings in their centers have steeper population density gradients, are more compact and centralized, and have been less affected by the suburbanization processes caused by transportation improvements. Heterogeneity analyses show that the quantity and the quality of historic buildings also matter. Several robustness checks controlling for natural and modern amenities and testing for the spatial scope of these amenities verify our main results.

2022/07: Income insecurity and mental health in pandemic times

This paper provides novel evidence of the mental health effects of the Covid-19 outbreak. Between April 2020 and April 2022, we run four waves of a large representative survey in Spain, which we benchmark against a decade of pre-pandemic data. We document a large and sudden deterioration of mental health at the beginning of the pandemic, as the share of people reporting being depressed increased from 16% before the pandemic to 46% in April 2020. This effect is persistent over time, which translates into important and irreversible consequences, such as a surge in suicides. The effect is more pronounced for women, younger individuals and those with unstable incomes. Finally, using mediation analysis, event studies and machine learning techniques, we document the role of the labor market as an important driver of these effects, as women and the young are more exposed to unstable income sources.

2022/06: The short-term impact of the minimum wage on employment: Evidence from Spain

Minimum wages have been widely discussed in the literature. The minimum wage impact on employment strongly depends on labor market concentration and the point at which it is located in the income distribution. Therefore, its study essentially involves exploring whether it has been set too far, beyond the competitive market wage. In 2019, the Spanish government decided to raise the minimum wage by 22.3%. This increase is of a previously unseen magnitude. Using rich administrative data, we combine Propensity Score Matching and a Difference-in-Differences model to evaluate the short-run employment effect of this policy. We find that the reform increased the probability of job loss within a range of 0.38 pp. (7.8%) and 0.44 pp. (9.2%) for workers below the new minimum wage, which implies an employment elasticity between 0.3 and 0.4. In addition, our results suggest that the bulk of this effect is concentrated in the group of workers furthest from the new minimum wage. This is the segment of the income distribution that bore the bulk of the employment costs of the minimum wage increase.

2022/05: Public transportation, fare policies and tax salience

This paper empirically tests whether property owners react to the salience of taxes in terms of their consumption of public services. Exploiting a policy change that reduced fares on public transport in various municipalities of the metropolitan area of Barcelona, we find that salience of the tax to finance the fare reduction increases the consumption of public transportation. Our empirical findings support the hypothesis that the salience of taxes may affect the consumption behavior of taxpayers and our main results contribute to previous empirical evidence relating tax salience and consumption behavior regarding public services.