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2024/07: The effect of removing early retirement on mortality

This paper studies the mortality effect of delaying retirement by investigating the impacts of the 1967 Spanish pension reform, which affected the general population and exogenously changed the early retirement age, depending on the date individuals started contributing to the pension system. Using the Spanish administrative data, we find that delaying retirement by one year increases the hazard of dying between the ages of 60 and 69 by 38 percent. We show that the reform leads to higher mortality in all subgroups, and the effects are statistically stronger for those employed in sectors with the highest workplace accidents and for those with low selfvalue jobs. Moreover, we show that allowing flexible retirement mitigates the adverse effects of delaying retirement.

2024/06: It where it hurts: Healthcare access and intimate partner violence

This paper investigates the causal link between healthcare access and intimate partner violence (IPV) victims’ help-seeking behavior. Access to healthcare serves as a critical avenue for screening or detecting IPV. Doctors are legally mandated to report suspected criminal injuries to the authorities and can guide victims towards IPV support services. We exploit the 2012 reform in Spain that removed access to the public healthcare system for undocumented immigrants. We use court reports and protection order requests from the Judicial Branch of the Spanish government to perform a difference-in-differences approach, comparing the helpseeking behavior of foreign and Spanish women before and after the reform. We find that restricting healthcare access led to an immediate 12% decrease in IPV reporting and protection order applications among foreign women, particularly in regions with strict enforcement. Importantly, we show suggestive evidence that the reform did not change the underlying incidence of IPV but the results are driven by a reduction in injury reports from medical centers. Our findings are important given the increase in migration flows globally as well as for corrent debates on granting/limiting access to healthcare for marginalized groups.

2024/05: The taxing challenges of the state: Unveiling the role of fiscal & administrative capacity in development

During the past two decades, several factors have challenged the stability of na-tional states, adding tensions to the connection between the state and the individual. This paper reviews the literature on state capacity. First, it introduces the origin of the literature and presents the well-established positive correlation between state ca-pacity and economic development. Second, it touches upon fiscal and administrative capacity and conflict. It concludes with a provocative reflection on digital nomads to push the research frontier in analysing the connection between the state and the individual.

2024/04: Discovering tax decentralization: Does it impact marginal willingness to pay taxes?

Decentralized fiscal decision-making should serve to enhance welfare by promoting allocative efficiency gains and fostering greater political accountability. Within such an institutional framework, individuals are assumed to be willing to pay, at least, no less taxes than those they pay in a centralized system. We test this hypothesis by means of a survey experiment, leveraging the process of decentralization that has unfolded in Spain over the last 25 years. Our results suggest that individuals have very limited awareness of the tier of government to which they pay their taxes, frequently assuming the system to be centralized. This holds true even in regions where tax decentralization is maximum, as is the case of Spain’s foral communities. On ‘discovering decentralization’ (i.e., being informed that a tax is more decentralized than initially perceived), an individual’s marginal willingness to pay taxes undergoes only a minimal change, with the exception of that of personal income tax. These findings raise questions about the purported benefits of tax decentralization.

2024/03: Muddying the waters: How grade distributions change when university exams go online

We analyse how grade distributions change when higher education evaluations transition online and disentangle the mechanisms that help to explain the change observed in students’ results. We leverage administrative panel data, survey data and data on course plans from a large undergraduate degree at the University of Barcelona. We show that grade averages increase and their dispersion reduce. Changes are driven by students from the lower end of the performance distribution and by a reduction in the occurrence of fail grades; however, we do not find evidence for artificial `grade adjusting’ to explain the phenomenon. We are also able to dismiss shifts in the composition of test takers, improvements in teaching quality or in learning experiences and increases in Student engagement. While changes in the assessment formats employed do not appear to mediate the causal relationship between online evaluation and higher grades, we identify more dispersed evaluation opportunities and increased cheating as explanatory factors.

2024/02: Can teachers influence student perceptions and preferences? Experimental evidence from a taxation course

We explore the impact of university teacher-student interactions on student perceptions of, and preferences with regard to, taxation. Grounded in an experimental framework in which tax practitioners (who are usually hired as adjunct university lecturers) delivered an introductory lecture on an undergraduate tax course, we find that the lectures can impact perceptions, but also preferences if the lecture is of sufficient interest or relevance to engage student attention. Additionally, we find that lectures delivered by practitioners working in the public sector tend to increase student perceptions of tax justice, but that this impact is independent of both the gender of the lecturer and that of the student. However, we deduce the existence of gender bias in evaluating the perceived interest level of lectures. All else being equal, male students typically provide lower ratings for female lecturers, whereas female students tend to give higher ratings for male lecturers.