qje   11

Regressive Sin Taxes, with an Application to the Optimal Soda Tax* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"A common objection to “sin taxes”—corrective taxes on goods that are thought to be overconsumed, such as cigarettes, alcohol, and sugary drinks—is that they often fall disproportionately on low-income consumers. This paper studies the interaction between corrective and redistributive motives in a general optimal taxation framework and delivers empirically implementable formulas for sufficient statistics for the optimal commodity tax. The optimal sin tax is increasing in the price elasticity of demand, increasing in the degree to which lower-income consumers are more biased or more elastic to the tax, decreasing in the extent to which consumption is concentrated among the poor, and decreasing in income effects, because income effects imply that commodity taxes create labor supply distortions. Contrary to common intuitions, stronger preferences for redistribution can increase the optimal sin tax, if lower-income consumers are more responsive to taxes or are more biased. As an application, we estimate the optimal nationwide tax on sugar-sweetened beverages, using Nielsen Homescan data and a specially designed survey measuring nutrition knowledge and self-control. Holding federal income tax rates constant, our estimates imply an optimal federal sugar-sweetened beverage tax of 1 to 2.1 cents per ounce, although optimal city-level taxes could be as much as 60% lower due to cross-border shopping."
sin-taxes  taxation  dmitry.taubinsky  hunt.alcott  ben.lockwood  QJE 
5 weeks ago by MarcK
Take-Up and Targeting: Experimental Evidence from SNAP* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"We develop a framework for welfare analysis of interventions designed to increase take-up of social safety net programs in the presence of potential behavioral biases. We calibrate the key parameters using a randomized field experiment in which 30,000 elderly individuals not enrolled in—but likely eligible for—the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) are either provided with information that they are likely eligible, provided with this information and offered assistance in applying, or are in a “status quo” control group. Only 6% of the control group enrolls in SNAP over the next nine months, compared to 11% of the Information Only group and 18% of the Information Plus Assistance group. The individuals who apply or enroll in response to either intervention have higher net income and are less sick than the average enrollee in the control group. We present evidence consistent with the existence of optimization frictions that are greater for needier individuals, which suggests that the poor targeting properties of the interventions reduce their welfare benefits."
public-policy  economics  social-welfare  nudging  amy.finkelstein  QJE  matthew.notowidigdo  **  to:read 
5 weeks ago by MarcK
Effect of Minimum Wages on Low-Wage Jobs* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"We estimate the effect of minimum wages on low-wage jobs using 138 prominent state-level minimum wage changes between 1979 and 2016 in the United States using a difference-in-differences approach. We first estimate the effect of the minimum wage increase on employment changes by wage bins throughout the hourly wage distribution. We then focus on the bottom part of the wage distribution and compare the number of excess jobs paying at or slightly above the new minimum wage to the missing jobs paying below it to infer the employment effect. We find that the overall number of low-wage jobs remained essentially unchanged over the five years following the increase. At the same time, the direct effect of the minimum wage on average earnings was amplified by modest wage spillovers at the bottom of the wage distribution. Our estimates by detailed demographic groups show that the lack of job loss is not explained by labor-labor substitution at the bottom of the wage distribution. We also find no evidence of disemployment when we consider higher levels of minimum wages. However, we do find some evidence of reduced employment in tradeable sectors. We also show how decomposing the overall employment effect by wage bins allows a transparent way of assessing the plausibility of estimates."
minimum-wage  economics  attila.lindner  QJE  to:read 
5 weeks ago by MarcK
Industry Input in Policy Making: Evidence from Medicare* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"In setting prices for physician services, Medicare solicits input from a committee that evaluates proposals from industry. The committee itself comprises members from industry; we investigate whether this arrangement leads to regulatory capture with prices biased toward industry interests. We find that increasing a measure of affiliation between the committee and proposers by one standard deviation increases prices by 10%. We then evaluate whether employing a biased committee as an intermediary may nonetheless be desirable, if greater affiliation allows the committee to extract information needed for regulation. We find industry proposers more affiliated with the committee produce less hard evidence in their proposals. However, on soft information, we find evidence of a trade-off: private insurers set prices that more closely track Medicare prices generated under higher affiliation."
health-insurance  lobbying  QJE  to:read 
5 weeks ago by MarcK
Implicit Stereotypes: Evidence from Teachers’ Gender Bias* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"I study whether exposure to teacher stereotypes, as measured by the Gender-Science Implicit Association Test, affects student achievement. I provide evidence that the gender gap in math performance, defined as the score of boys minus the score of girls in standardized tests, substantially increases when students are assigned to math teachers with stronger gender stereotypes. Teacher stereotypes induce girls to underperform in math and self-select into less demanding high schools, following the track recommendation of their teachers. These effects are at least partially driven by lower self-confidence on math ability of girls exposed to gender-biased teachers. Stereotypes impair the test performance of girls, who end up failing to achieve their full potential. I do not detect statistically significant effects on student outcomes of literature teacher stereotypes."
stereotypes  michela.carlana  education  to:read  ***  QJE 
5 weeks ago by MarcK
Ever Failed, Try Again, Succeed Better: Results from a Randomized Educational Intervention on Grit* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"We show that grit, a skill that has been shown to be highly predictive of achievement, is malleable in childhood and can be fostered in the classroom environment. We evaluate a randomized educational intervention implemented in two independent elementary school samples. Outcomes are measured via a novel incentivized real-effort task and performance in standardized tests. We find that treated students are more likely to exert effort to accumulate task-specific ability and hence more likely to succeed. In a follow up 2.5 years after the intervention, we estimate an effect of about 0.2 standard deviations on a standardized math test."
QJE  to:read  ***  education  grit  sule.alan  teodora.boneva  seda.ertac 
5 weeks ago by MarcK
Kinship, Cooperation, and the Evolution of Moral Systems* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"Across the social sciences, a key question is how societies manage to enforce cooperative behavior in social dilemmas such as public goods provision or bilateral trade. According to an influential body of theories in psychology, anthropology, and evolutionary biology, the answer is that humans have evolved moral systems: packages of functional psychological and biological mechanisms that regulate economic behavior, including a belief in moralizing gods; moral values; negative reciprocity; and emotions of shame, guilt, and disgust. Based on a stylized model, this article empirically studies the structure and evolution of these moral traits as a function of historical heterogeneity in extended kinship relationships. The evidence shows that societies with a historically tightly knit kinship structure regulate behavior through communal moral values, revenge taking, emotions of external shame, and notions of purity and disgust. In loose kinship societies, on the other hand, cooperation appears to be enforced through universal moral values, internalized guilt, altruistic punishment, and an apparent rise and fall of moralizing religions. These patterns point to the presence of internally consistent but culturally variable functional moral systems. Consistent with the model, the relationship between kinship ties, economic development, and the structure of the mediating moral systems amplified over time."
moral_psychology  morals  culture  ben.enke  QJE 
april 2019 by MarcK
Protests as Strategic Games: Experimental Evidence from Hong Kong's Antiauthoritarian Movement* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"Social scientists have long viewed the decision to protest as strategic, with an individual's participation a function of their beliefs about others’ turnout. We conduct a framed field experiment that recalibrates individuals’ beliefs about others’ protest participation, in the context of Hong Kong's ongoing antiauthoritarian movement. We elicit subjects’ planned participation in an upcoming protest and their prior beliefs about others’ participation, in an incentivized manner. One day before the protest, we randomly provide a subset of subjects with truthful information about others’ protest plans and elicit posterior beliefs about protest turnout, again in an incentivized manner. After the protest, we elicit subjects’ actual participation. This allows us to identify the causal effects of positively and negatively updated beliefs about others’ protest participation on subjects’ own turnout. In contrast with the assumptions of many recent models of protest participation, we consistently find evidence of strategic substitutability. We provide guidance regarding plausible sources of strategic substitutability that can be incorporated into theoretical models of protests."
davide.cantoni  david.yang  QJE  protests  beliefs 
april 2019 by MarcK
Distributional National Accounts: Methods and Estimates for the United States* | The Quarterly Journal of Economics | Oxford Academic
"This article combines tax, survey, and national accounts data to estimate the distribution of national income in the United States since 1913. Our distributional national accounts capture 100% of national income, allowing us to compute growth rates for each quantile of the income distribution consistent with macroeconomic growth. We estimate the distribution of both pretax and posttax income, making it possible to provide a comprehensive view of how government redistribution affects inequality. Average pretax real national income per adult has increased 60% from 1980 to 2014, but we find that it has stagnated for the bottom 50% of the distribution at about $16,000 a year. The pretax income of the middle class—adults between the median and the 90th percentile—has grown 40% since 1980, faster than what tax and survey data suggest, due in particular to the rise of tax-exempt fringe benefits. Income has boomed at the top. The upsurge of top incomes was first a labor income phenomenon but has mostly been a capital income phenomenon since 2000. The government has offset only a small fraction of the increase in inequality. The reduction of the gender gap in earnings has mitigated the increase in inequality among adults, but the share of women falls steeply as one moves up the labor income distribution, and is only 11% in the top 0.1% in 2014."
thomas.piketty  emmanuel.saez  gabriel.zucman  inequality  economics  qje  US  **  economics-papers 
april 2018 by MarcK

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