City size distributions are not strictly Pareto, but upper tails are rather Pareto like (i.e. tails are regularly varying). We examine the properties of the tail exponent estimator obtained from ordinary least squares (OLS) rank size regressions (Zipf regressions for short), the most popular empirical strategy among urban economists. The estimator is then biased towards Zipf's law in the leading class of distributions. The Pareto quantile-quantile plot is shown to offer a simple diagnostic device to detect such distortions and should be used in conjunction with the regression residuals to select the anchor point of the OLS regression in a data-dependent manner. Applying these updated methods to some well-known data sets for the largest cities, Zipf's law is now rejected in several cases.
In their quest for universal health coverage (UHC), many developing countries use alternative financing strategies including general revenues to expand health coverage to the whole population. Unless a policy adjustment is undertaken, future generations may foot the bill of the UHC. This raises the important policy questions of who bears the burden of UHC and whether the UHC-fiscal stance is sustainable in the long term. These two questions are addressed using an overlapping generations model within a general equilibrium (OLG-CGE) framework applied to Palestine. We assess and compare alternative ways of financing the UHC-ridden deficit (viz. deferred-debt, current and phased-manner finance) and their implications on fiscal sustainability and intergenerational inequalities. The policy instruments examined include direct labour-income tax and indirect consumption taxes as well as health insurance contributions. Results show that in the absence of any policy adjustment, the implementation of UHC would explode the fiscal deficit and debt-GDP ratio. This indicates that the UHC-fiscal stance is rather unsustainable in the long term, thus, calling for a policy adjustment to service the UHC debt. Among the policies we examined, a current rather than deferred-debt finance through consumption taxation emerged to be preferred over other policies in terms of its implications for both fiscal sustainability and intergenerational inequality.
We consider an overlapping generations economy in which agents differ through their ability to procreate. Ex-ante infertile households may incur health expenditure to increase their chances of parenthood. This health heterogeneity generates welfare inequalities that deserve to be ruled out. We explore three different criteria of social evaluation in the long-run: the utilitarian approach, the ex-ante egalitarian criterion and the ex-post egalitarian one. We propose a set of economic instruments to decentralize each solution. To correct for the externalities and health inequalities, both a preventive (a taxation of capital) and a redistributive policy are required. We show that a more egalitarian allocation is associated with higher productive investment but reduced health expenditure and thus, lower population growth.
Information provision is a relatively recent but steadily growing environmental policy tool. Its emergency and topicality are due to the current escalation of ecological threats. Meanwhile, its high complexity and flexibility require a comprehensive approach to its design, which has to be tailored for specific characteristics of production process, market structure, and regulatory goals. This work proposes such an approach and builds a framework based on a three-level mathematical program extending well-known two-level Stackelberg game by introducing one more economic agent and one extra level of this sequential game. This study provides simple and very intuitive algorithms to compute optimal multi-tier information provision policies, both mandatory and voluntary. The paper urges for the wide implementation of such efficient environmental policy design tools.
This paper provides experimental support for the hypothesis that insurance can be a motive for religious donations. We randomize enrollment of members of a Pentecostal church in Ghana into a commercial funeral insurance policy. Then church members allocate money between themselves and a set of religious goods in a series of dictator games with significant stakes. Members enrolled in insurance give significantly less money to their own church compared to members that only receive information about the insurance. Enrollment also reduces giving towards other spiritual goods. We set up a model exploring different channels of religiously based insurance.
The implications of the model and the results from the dictator games suggest that adherents perceive the church as a source of insurance and that this insurance is derived from beliefs in an interventionist God. Survey results suggest that material insurance from the church community is also important and we hypothesize that these two insurance channels exist in parallel.
Many countries are reallocating tasks and powers to more central levels of government. To identify centralization’s welfare effects, I use a difference-in-differences design that relies on time and cross-cantonal variation in the implementation of centralization reforms in Switzerland. I find that centralization provokes significant decreases in residents’ life satisfaction. I identify one mechanism driving the effect, namely the procedural disutility that individuals experience from having less influence over the formulation of political decisions. This effect is largest among individuals with higher expected benefits from being involved in the political decision process, with detrimental effects on local political participation.
We consider a contracting relationship where the agent's effort induces monetary costs, and limits on the agent's resource restrict his capability to exert effort. We show that, the principal finds it best to offer a sharing contract while providing the agent with an up-front financial transfer only when the monetary cost is neither too low nor too high. Thus, unlike in the limited liability literature, the principal might find it optimal to fund the agent. Moreover, both incentives and the amount of funding are non-monotonic functions of the monetary cost. These results suggest that an increase in the interest rate may affect the form of contracts differently , depending on the initial level of the former. Using the analysis, we provide and discuss several predictions and policy implications.
Evolutionary finance focuses on questions of “survival and extinction” of investment strategies (portfolio rules) in the market selection process. It analyzes stochastic dynamics of financial markets in which asset prices are determined endogenously by a short-run equilibrium between supply and demand. Equilibrium is formed in each time period in the course of interaction of portfolio rules of competing market participants. A comprehensive theory of evolutionary dynamics of this kind has been developed for models in which short selling is not allowed and asset supply is exogenous. The present paper extends the theory to a class of models with short selling and endogenous asset supply.
OECD countries have experienced a large increase in top wage inequality. Atkinson (2008) attributes this phenomena to the superstar theory leading to a Pareto tail in the wage distribution with a low Pareto coefficient. Do we observe a similar phenomena for academic wages? We examine wage formation in a public US university using for each academic rank a hybrid mixture formed by a lognormal distribution for regular wages and a Pareto distribution for top wages, using a Bayesian approach. The presence of superstars wages would imply a higher dispersion in the Pareto tail than in the lognormal body. We concluded that academic wages are formed in a different way than other top wages. There is an effort to propose competitive wages to some young Assistant Professors. But when climbing up the wage ladder, we found a phenomenon of wage compression which is just the contrary of a superstar phenomenon.
We provide the first analysis of the risk sharing implications of altruism networks. Agents are embedded in a fixed network and care about each other. We explore whether altruistic transfers help smooth consumption and how this depends on the shape of the network. We find that altruism networks have a first-order impact on risk. Altruistic transfers generate efficient insurance when the network of perfect altruistic ties is strongly connected. We uncover two specific empirical implications of altruism networks. First, bridges can generate good overall risk sharing and, more generally, the quality of informal insurance depends on the average path length of the network. Second, large shocks are well-insured by connected altruism networks. By contrast, large shocks tend to be badly insured in models of informal insurance with frictions. We characterize what happens for shocks that leave the structure of giving relationships unchanged. We further explore the relationship between consumption variance and centrality, correlation in consumption streams across agents and the impact of adding links.