Structural Change and the Fertility Transition

Forthcoming paper in Review of Economics and Statistics by Philipp Ager ’08 and Benedikt Herz ’08 (Economics)

Paper abstract

This paper provides new insights on the relationship between structural change and the fertility transition. We exploit the spread of an agricultural pest in the American South in the 1890s as plausibly exogenous variation in agricultural production to establish a causal link between earnings opportunities in agriculture and fertility. Households staying in agriculture reduced fertility because children are a normal good, while households switching to manufacturing reduced fertility because of the higher opportunity costs of raising children. The lower earnings opportunities in agriculture also decreased the value of child labor which increased schooling, consistent with a quantity-quality model of fertility.

See this paper on the REST website.

Also featured on VoxEU!

A more in-depth summary of the paper is available in the VoxEU column “From the farm to the factory floor: How the structural transformation triggered the fertility transition.”

Check it out on VoxEU!

About the authors

Philipp Ager ’08 is an Associate Professor of Economics, University of Southern Denmark and CEPR Research Affiliate. He is an alum of the Barcelona GSE Master’s in Economics.

Website

Benedikt Herz ’08 is member of the Chief Economist’s Team, European Commission Directorate-General for Internal Market and Industry. He is an alum of the Barcelona GSE Master’s in Economics.

Website

Making a Career in Private Equity: The Myths and the Opportunities

Jebb Peria ’10 (Finance), Associate at EV Private Equity

Jebb Peria ’10 recently answered some questions about careers in private equity in a post for his employer, EV Private Equity. Here are a few excerpts from the interview.

I’ve heard of private equity but how does it differ from, say, venture capital or fund management?

Fund management is basically a firm of money managers investing pooled funds from investors. The capital may be invested in traditional asset classes such as equities, fixed income and cash and alternative asset classes such as hedge funds, private equity, real estate, commodities and infrastructure. 

Private Equity (PE) is an active form of investment in privately held companies with the objective of growing them over a medium to long-term period. As active investors, PE firms work closely with management to increase and maximise the company’s value through financial engineering, improved governance and operational performance.

At EV Private Equity, we primarily invest in early-growth companies that have: a distinct product or service; the potential to grow rapidly; low levels of debt; and experienced management teams. We seek innovative and disruptive technology companies that can scale and drive superior returns.

Venture Capital (VC) is a subset of PE which provides capital to early-stage businesses, usually in technology-based sectors. Venture capitalists normally invest in high-growth, high-risk, start-up or early-staged ventures, typically with a bias towards technology or innovation. PE tends to focus on later-stage investment in businesses that are more established and are generating cash. VC uses primarily equity while PE may use equity and debt (leverage).

Both PE and VC use a measurement known as MOIC (Multiple On Invested Capital) to calculate the returns they make from their investments. PE target returns range from 2x-5x while VC returns are expected to be higher. 

Do I need an MBA from Harvard, a mathematics degree or an accountancy qualification in order to be considered?

No, not necessarily. As a matter of fact, I don’t have any of those credentials. I graduated with a BA in Economics (with highest distinction) from York University in Canada, an MA in Economics from the University of Toronto, and an MSc in Finance from Barcelona GSE. I am also a CFA® charterholder. I guess this depends on which type of PE firm you want to work with as there are generalists and specialists.

As energy specialists, our team at EV Private Equity is comprised of people with substantial experience in the energy industry [oil and gas (O&G), oil field services (OFS)] as well as those from technical disciplines (reservoir, drilling, mechanical, chemical, and software engineering as well as geophysics and naval architecture). We also recruit candidates with graduate business degrees in areas such as MBA, finance, economics, strategy etc.

Is it true that private equity is very secretive and is not accountable to any regulators or governments?

False.

EV Private Equity is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority in the UK and the SEC in the US under the Investment Advisor Act of 1940.  

Like any other firm, EV Private Equity and its portfolio companies are obliged to abide by the laws and regulations of all countries we operate in. This is also part of the fiduciary duty towards the firm’s institutional investors, comprised mainly of large public and private pension funds, insurance companies, university endowment funds and sovereign wealth funds.

What is a typical day like in private equity?

I typically start the morning reading through the latest news and market trends. I skim-through DagensNæringsliv, Bloomberg, Financial Times and even LinkedIn to check on the latest oil price, mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and geopolitical news. Then, I read through my emails to check for any updates on the portfolio companies I’m involved with and any immediate requests from the partners.

My day is normally split between fixed deliveries and ad hoc tasks. My deliveries would range from weekly meetings and operational updates with portfolio companies to monthly, quarterly and yearly financial reporting to updating fair market values of portfolio companies to weekly meetings with the digital marketing team. I would also participate in quarterly investor meetings, board meetings as well as annual strategy meetings with my portfolio companies.

If there’s a deal I am involved in, I would build the financial model, perform valuation and sensitivity analysis and support the drafting of the investment paper. I would also be participating in weekly call updates with the due diligence providers regarding any red flags and show stoppers (in other words, developments that may affect our decision to invest).

If one of my portfolio companies is preparing for an exit, I might be having calls with the management and the financial advisors discussing the potential buyers, the market sentiment and the status of the Information Memorandum (IM), the document we share with prospective buyers.

There is not much slack time. If I do have some spare time, I can always find something to work on: a process to simplify and make more efficient; a model to automate; improvements to our social media presence; or offering support to other office locations. 

What are the rewards?

Helping to create value for the company and produce superior returns for investors is rewarding and gratifying.

I also get to work with different partners, management teams, board members and technologies. These teach me different insights, strategies, and management styles.

It is very rewarding to work with the smart, entrepreneurial and down-to-earth group of individuals at EV Private Equity. They make the workplace fun and invigorating.

Of course, the job is also financially rewarding. I would like to believe that I am fairly and reasonably remunerated given my performance and contributions, the skillset I bring to the table, and my dedication to my craft.

Intrigued? Read the full interview with Jebb on EV Private Equity’s website!

alumni

Jebb Peria ’10 is an Associate at EV Private Equity in Norway. He is an alum of the Barcelona GSE Master’s in Finance.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Mini-Bot: Ingenuity or Ignorance

Alessandro Franconi ’17 (Macroeconomic Policy and Financial Markets)

“Mini-Bot: Ingenuity or Ignorance” is my first policy brief for the Luiss School of European Political Economy.

“The concept of using mini-BOTs to pay off trade payables may seem like a good idea, but if we analyze it in detail we can intuitively conclude that such a tool is futile and limited…It is clear that the mini-BOTs are a completely sterile, if not harmful, device for public finances, as their implementation (or just the information that the government is officially studying their implementation) would put again Italy on the road to leaving the euro.

Jihadi attacks, media, and local anti-Muslim hate crime

Ria Ivandic ’13 is co-author on the discussion paper, “Jihadi Attacks, Media and Local Hate Crime” (with Tom Kirchmaier and Stephen Machin). This paper has been featured in an article on VoxEU and in CEP’s CentrePiece magazine.

Paper abstract

Empirical connections between local anti-Muslim hate crimes and international jihadi terror attacks are studied. Based upon rich administrative data from Greater Manchester Police, event studies of ten terror attacks reveal an immediate big spike up in Islamophobic hate crimes and incidents when an attack occurs. In subsequent days, hate crime is amplified by real-time media. It subsequently attenuates, but hate crime incidence cumulates to higher levels than prior to the series of attacks. The overall conclusion is that, even when they reside in places far away from where jihadi terror attacks take place, local Muslim populations face a media magnified likelihood of hate crime victimization following international terror attacks. This matters for community cohesion in places affected by discriminatory hate crime and, from both a policy and research perspective, means that the process of media magnification of hate crime needs to be better understood.

Ria Ivandic ’13 is a post-doctoral researcher at LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance (CEP). She is an alum of the Barcelona GSE Master’s in Economics.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Machine Learning for the Sustainable Management of Main Water Supply Assets

Maryam Rahbaralam ’19 (Data Science)

big data

Maryam Rahbaralam ’19 (Data Science) presented “Machine Learning for the Sustainable Management of Main Water Supply Assets” with Jaume Cardús (Aigües de Barcelona) during the Pioneering Fields and Applications (Strong AI) session at the 2019 Big Data and AI Congress in Barcelona.

Abstract

The developed machine learning model gives the prediction of the probability of failure for each pipe section of the water supply network, allowing an early renewal of those in more detrimental conditions in terms of social, environmental and economic consequences.

Video

Maryam Rahbaralam ’19 is a Data Scientist at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). She is an alum of the Barcelona GSE Master’s in Data Science.

LinkedIn | Twitter

Confidence Intervals for Bias and Size Distortion in IV and Local Projections-IV Models

Publication in “Journal of Business & Economic Statistics” by
Gergely Ganics ’12 (with A. Inoue and B. Rossi)

Abstract

In this article, we propose methods to construct confidence intervals for the bias of the two-stage least squares estimator, and the size distortion of the associated Wald test in instrumental variables models with heteroscedasticity and serial correlation. Importantly our framework covers the local projections—instrumental variable model as well. Unlike tests for weak instruments, whose distributions are nonstandard and depend on nuisance parameters that cannot be consistently estimated, the confidence intervals for the strength of identification are straightforward and computationally easy to calculate, as they are obtained from inverting a chi-squared distribution. Furthermore, they provide more information to researchers on instrument strength than the binary decision offered by tests. Monte Carlo simulations show that the confidence intervals have good, albeit conservative, in some cases, small sample coverage. We illustrate the usefulness of the proposed methods in two empirical situations: the estimation of the intertemporal elasticity of substitution in a linearized Euler equation, and government spending multipliers. 

Supplementary materials for this article are available online. The online appendix contains the proofs, further theoretical and Monte Carlo results, and the description of the datasets used in the present article. Replication code is available on the journal’s website.

Household level effects of flooding: Evidence from Thailand

International Trade, Finance, and Development master project by Zhuldyz Ashikbayeva, Marei Fürstenberg, Timo Kapelari, Albert Pierres, Stephan Thies ’19

Source: NY Times

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona GSE.

Abstract

This thesis studies the impacts of flooding on income and expenditures of rural households in northeast Thailand. It explores and compares shock coping strategies and identifies household level differences in flood resilience. Drawing on unique household panel data collected between 2007 and 2016, we exploit random spatio-temporal variation in flood intensities on the village level to identify the causal impacts of flooding on households. Two objective measures for flood intensities are derived from satellite data and employed in the analysis. Both proposed measures rely on the percentage area inundated in the surrounding of a village, but the second measure is standardized and expressed in comparison to the median village level flood exposure. We find that household incomes are negatively affected by floods. However, our results suggest that rather than absolute levels of flooding, deviations from median flood exposure are driving negative effects on households. This indicates a certain degree of adaptation to floods. Household expenditures for health and especially food rise in the aftermath of flooding. Lastly, we find that above primary school education helps to completely offset potential negative effects of flooding.

Conclusion

This paper adds to the existing body of literature by employing a satellite based measure to investigate the long-run effects of recurrent floods on household level outcomes. We first set out to identify the causal impacts of flooding on income and expenditures of rural households in Thailand. Next, we explored and compared shock coping strategies and identified potential differences in flood resilience based on household characteristics. For this purpose, we leveraged a detailed household panel data set provided by the Thailand Vietnam Socio Economic Panel. To quantify the severity of flood events, we calculated flood indices based on flood maps collected by the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) measuring the deviation from median levels of flooding in a 5km radius around a respective village. The figure below illustrates the construction of the index for a set of exemplary villages that lie in the Nang Rong district of Buri Ram in northeast Thailand.

(a) 2010 flooding in Buri Ram and surrounding provinces. Red lines mark the location of the Nong Rong district.

(b) Detailed overview of flood index construction. Red dot shows the exact location of each village with the 5 km area around each village marked by the red circle.

Our results suggest a negative relationship between floods and per household member income, for both total income and income from farming. Per household member expenditure, however, does not seem to be affected by flood events at all. The only exemptions are food and health expenditures, which increase after flood events that are among the top 10 percent of the most severe floods. The former is likely to be driven by the fact that many households in northeastern Thailand live at subsistence level, and therefore consume their farming produce. A lack of production in a given year may lead these households to substitute this loss by buying produce from markets. Rising health expenditures may be explained by injuries caused or diseases obtained during a heavy flood.

Investigating potential risk mitigation strategies revealed that households with better educated household heads suffer less during flood events. However, this result does not necessarily point to a causal relationship, as better educated households might settle in locations of the village which are less likely to be flooded. While our data does not allow to control for such settlement choices on the micro-spatial level, our findings still provide valuable insights for future policy-relevant research on the effects of education on disaster resilience in rural Thailand. Moreover, our data suggests that only very few households are insured against potential disasters. Future research will help to investigate flood impacts and risk mitigation channels in more detail.

Authors: Zhuldyz Ashikbayeva, Marei Fürstenberg, Timo Kapelari, Albert Pierres, Stephan Thies

About the Barcelona GSE Master’s Program in International Trade, Finance, and Development

Media and behavioral response: the case of #BlackLivesMatter

Economics master project by Julie Balitrand, Joseph Buss, Ana Monteiro, Jens Oehlen, and Paul Richter ’19

source: Texas Public Radio

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series showcasing Barcelona GSE master projects. The project is a required component of all Master’s programs at the Barcelona GSE.

Abstract

We study the effects of the #BlackLivesMatter movement on the law abiding behavior of African-Americans. First, we derive a conceptual framework to illustrate changes in risk perceptions across different races. Second, we use data from the Illinois Traffic Study Dataset to investigate race ratios in police stops. For identification, we apply a linear probability OLS regression on media coverage as well as an event study framework with specific cases. We find that the number of black people committing traffic law violations is significantly reduced after spikes in media coverage and notable police shootings. In the latter case, we further find that the effect holds for an approximate ten day period. We argue that these observed changes in driving behavior are a result of the updated risk beliefs.

Game Tree. Balitrand et al.

Conclusions

Beginning with our model, we show that media related changes in risk perceptions cause a change in the proportion of people committing crimes. Using this model, we further predict that this change would be different across different racial groups. More specifically, it predicts that Blacks became more cautious in order to decrease the chance of a negative interaction with the police. On the other hand, whites were predicted to not change their behavior, since the violence in media coverage is not relevant to their driving decisions.

In order to test our model, we develop a hypothesis testing strategy that allows us disentangle police actions from civilian decisions. By considering the proportion of stopped people who are black at nighttime, we completely remove any effect caused by changes in policing intensity and bias. Instead, we create a testable hypothesis that only focuses on the differences in behavior between racial groups.

To test this hypothesis, we use a linear probability model along with traffic data from Illinois. We test the hypothesis using both an event study approach, as well as using media intensity data from the GDELT Project. Both approaches verify our model’s predictions with high significance levels. Therefore, we have shown that Blacks became more cautious in response to these events compared to other racial groups. In addition, our robustness check on the total number of stops supports the claim that non-blacks do not have a significant response to media coverage of police brutality toward Blacks. This leads to the conclusion that the expected proportion of Blacks breaking traffic laws goes down in response to coverage of these events.

An implicit assumption in our model was that as media coverage goes to zero, Blacks would revert back to their original level of caution. To test this we looked at three days intervals following each media event. We showed that after approximately 10 days, the coefficients were not significant anymore, showing that the media only caused a short term change in behavior. Since this was a robustness check, and not a main focus of our model, we did not investigate this further. This is an interesting conclusion, and warrants future analysis.

On a final note, we want to address the type of media we use for our analysis. Our model section considers media in a general sense. This can include, but is not limited to, social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as more traditional media platforms such as television and print newspapers. All of these sources cover police brutality cases at similar intensities. We use TV data for media intensity, since it affects the broadest demographic and therefore best represents the average driver’s exposure to the topic. Different media age medians might affect different demographics more or less. For example, social media may have a greater effect on younger drivers than older drivers. We believes this topic warrants further analysis, in a addition to the topic of the previous paragraph.

Authors: Julie Balitrand, Joseph Buss, Ana Monteiro, Jens Oehlen, and Paul Richter

About the Barcelona GSE Master’s Program in Economics

Brexit, digital money, and (Super) Mario, oh my!

Fall 2019 roundup of CaixaBank Research by Barcelona GSE alumni

charts

It’s time once again to check in with Barcelona GSE Alumni who are now Economists and Senior Economists at CaixaBank Research in Barcelona. As part of their duties, they regularly publish working papers and reports on a range of topics. Below are some of their latest contributions.

(If you’re a Barcelona GSE alum and you’re also writing about Economics, Finance, or Data Science, let us know where we can find your stuff!)


The «sense and sensibility» of the ECB’s communication

Gabriel L. Ramos ’19 (Finance) and Adrià Morron ’12 (Economics)

Communication is one of the most powerful monetary policy tools. For this reason, CaixaBank Research has developed an index to measure the sentiment of the ECB’s statements.Our ECB sentiment index shows a strong correlation with euro area economic activity indicators and foresees changes in the reference interest rate. The index notes a significant deterioration in ECB sentiment between late 2017 and Q3 2019 and shows how geopolitical uncertainty has affected the ECB’s view of the economic outlook.


The United Kingdom’s potential for Spain after Brexit

Javier Ibañez de Aldecoa ’18 (Economics) with Claudia Canals and Josep Mestres Domènech

In this article, we analyse the extent to which it will be more difficult for Spanish companies to establish relations for international expansion with the United Kingdom following Brexit. We use the CaixaBank Index for Business Internationalisation (CIBI), which classifies foreign countries according to the potential for internationalisation they offer for Spanish companies, and we analyse the impact of the four Brexit scenarios put forward by the Bank of England.


The e-monetary policy of the new digital economy

Adrià Morron ’12 (Economics) and Ricard Murillo ’17 (International Trade, Finance and Development)

Digital technologies permeate the debate on the future of the economy. Monetary policy and its main vehicle, money, are no exception. More and more products are sold over the internet and cash is used less and less. This new digital economy creates new demands on the financial sector and digital money emerges as a new means of payment that appeals to consumers. How does all this affect monetary policy? What can central banks do (and what are they doing) about it?


The farewell of (Super) Mario Draghi

Adrià Morron ’12 (Economics)

Mario Draghi ends his eight-year mandate at the ECB on October 31, leaving the central bank at the cutting edge of monetary policy. Under Draghi’s leadership, the ECB has offered significant support to the recovery of the euro area. However, the latest measures have raised doubts over the margin for action and effectiveness of monetary policy. Christine Lagarde, with a less technical profile but a vision of continuity in monetary policy, will take over in a sombre economic environment in which signs of fragmentation between ECB members have appeared.


Source: CaixaBank Research

Why we need to discuss gender in a different way

Economics ’18 alumni Eva Schoenwald, deputy chair, and Iakov Frizis, editor-in-chief, of the Women in Economics Initiative

Originally posted by the authors on Women in Economics

Recent years have seen significant improvements in female representation in the workplace. Information campaigns, feminist associations, female employment quotas and a rising number of female role models all contribute to an improved gender balance in Western European and US workplaces.

Despite this progress, we remain far from achieving gender balance in the workplace. A significant contributor to the reform slowdown is the emergence of diversity fatigue and inclusion backlash among many companies trying to implement more gender inclusion in the workplace. It becomes increasingly clear that we need to find a way to redefine popular gender discourse if we wish to deliver more inclusion. 

According to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report, current projections place the closing of the gender gap at 108 years from now. Yet success stories of female economists such as Esther Duflo, Christine Lagarde and Laurence Boone make it easy to cast data aside. They often let us forget about the existence of glass cliffs, implicit gender bias in recruitment and publication processes, pregnancy discrimination, sexual harassment, office favouritism, lack of role models, and restroom gossip, just to name a few. As compelling as success stories might be, they seem not to be bellwethers for reform. 

In the fight against gender discrimination, we face an elusive enemy. A recent International Labour Organisation survey found discrimination and unconscious gender bias to be among the five main challenges for women holding leadership positions. Unconscious bias stems from social norms, values, and experiences that contribute to decision-making. Such bias often manifests itself in an overall masculine corporate culture, along with preconceptions related to social roles and abilities of men and women, and the masculine nature of management positions.

Limited reflection on the effect of unconscious bias towards women in the workplace risks understating the urgency to push for more equality, allowing for a feeling of diversity fatigue to set in. Cundiff and Vescio (2016) show that individuals with strong gender stereotypes are less prone to attribute workplace gender disparities to discrimination. In 2017, James Damore, a Google engineer, unintentionally sided publicly with Cundiff and Vescio when he sued his employer on the grounds of intolerance against individuals holding unpopular political beliefs. The lawsuit came as a response to Google terminating the contract of Mr. Damore, following his drafting of an internal memo in which he argued that female underrepresentation in the tech industry is due to abilities, rather than flagrant discrimination. 

The Google case describes too well the feeling of exhaustion towards diversity and inclusion issues that motivates us to take action. The recent gender inclusion backlash points to a need to revisit how we discuss gender. We should both question the validity of the design of inclusion programmes and acknowledge that we still have a long way to go until we reach equality of opportunity between genders. 

We need to reinvent the way we discuss gender by taking the focus away from high-level gender policies and fairness approaches. Instead, we propose to address gender stereotypes and to develop a strong performance-oriented approach to discussing inclusion. Only by acknowledging that our profession has a gender issue will we be able to revisit this old problem through a new perspective – one that brings together practitioners across both genders, to work towards a more inclusive workplace. 

About the Women in Economics Initiative

Together with some friends, we have recently launched the Women in Economics Initiative (WiE). The Women in Economics Initiative was established to advance gender equality in the field of economics. Our goal is to encourage equal opportunity and a balanced representation of genders in the economics profession across the academic, business and public sectors. To achieve this, we offer a platform that highlights the work of women economists, a network to connect and exchange ideas and interactive data about the status of diversity in economics.

We are looking for new members, supporters as well as submissions of articles from women economists on their work.

Eva Schoenwald ’18 is a quantitative researcher at Nesta and deputy chair of WiE. She is an alum of the Barcelona GSE Master’s in Economics.

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Iakov Frizis ’18 is a senior economist at PwC Luxembourg and editor-in-chief of WiE. He is an alum of the Barcelona GSE Master’s in Economics.

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