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Author:Benhabib, Jess 

Working Paper
Modernization and Discrete Measures of Democracy

We reassess the empirical evidence for a positive relationship between income and democracy, commonly known as the ?modernization hypothesis,? using discrete democracy measures. While discrete measures have been advocated in the literature, they pose estimation problems under fixed effects due to incidental parameter issues. We use two methods to address these issues, the bias-correction method of Fernandez-Val, which directly computes the marginal effects, and the parameterized Wooldridge method. Estimation under the Fernandez-Val method consistently indicates a statistically and ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2014-1

Journal Article
How Persistent Are the Effects of Sentiment Shocks?

People?s feelings about the economy have been shown to be strongly connected to a state?s current economic health over short horizons. So, how well do such consumer sentiment measures coincide with economic growth over a longer period? Sentiment shocks are associated with large and statistically significant changes in state economic output over as long as a three-year horizon. While the sentiment shocks initially affect state consumption expenditures to a smaller degree, the impact tends to be more persistent, continuing as long as five years after the initial shock.
FRBSF Economic Letter

Conference Paper
Human capital and technology diffusion

This paper generalizes the Nelson-Phelps catch-up model of technology diffusion facilitated by levels of human capital. We allow for the possibility that the pattern of technology diffusion can be exponential, which would predict that nations would exhibit positive catch-up with the leader nation, or logistic, in which a country with a sufficiently small capital stock may exhibit slower total factor productivity growth than the leader nation. ; We derive a nonlinear specification for total factor productivity growth that nests these two specifications. We estimate this specification for a ...
Proceedings , Issue Nov

Working Paper
Redistribution, taxes, and the median voter

We study a simple model of production, accumulation, and redistribution, where agents are heterogeneous in their initial wealth, and a sequence of redistributive tax rates is voted upon. Though the policy is infinite-dimensional, we prove that a median voter theorem holds if households have identical, Gorman aggregable preferences; furthermore, the tax policy preferred by the median voter has the ?bang- bang? property.
Working Paper Series , Paper WP-06-02

Working Paper
Sentiments and Economic Activity: Evidence from U.S. States

Using data from the Michigan Survey, we find a strong relationship between expectations concerning national output growth and future state economic activity. This linkage suggests that sentiment influences aggregate demand. This relationship is robust to a battery of sensitivity tests. However, national sentiment is also positively related to past state economic activity. We therefore turn to instrumental variables, positing that agents in states with a higher share of congressmen from the political party of the sitting President will be more optimistic. This instrument is strong in the first ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2016-19

Discussion Paper
On the economics of fiscal populism in an open economy

We study a representative agent, open economy in which government-provided services that enter the domestic production function must be financed with distortionary taxes, and focus on the optimal size of government and the associated optimal tax rate. If the government can precommit its actions, it maximizes individual welfare by announcing and implementing a constant tax rate, which we label the orthodox tax rate. This tax rate is time inconsistent, and under discretion the government implements a tax that maximizes each periods output. We label this the populist tax rate. It may be higher ...
Discussion Paper / Institute for Empirical Macroeconomics , Paper 97

Working Paper
Reestablishing the income-democracy nexus

A number of recent empirical studies have cast doubt on the "modernization theory" of democratization, which posits that increases in income are conducive to increases in democracy levels. This doubt stems mainly from the fact that while a strong positive correlation exists between income and democracy levels, the relationship disappears when one controls for country fixed effects. This raises the possibility that the correlation in the data reflects a third causal characteristic, such as institutional quality. In this paper, we reexamine the robustness of the income-democracy relationship. ...
Working Paper Series , Paper 2011-09

Working Paper
Uncertainty and sentiment-driven equilibria

We construct a model to capture the Keynesian idea that production and employment decisions are based on expectations of aggregate demand driven by sentiments and that realized demand follows from the production and employment decisions of firms. We cast the Keynesian idea into a simple model with imperfect information about aggregate demand and we characterize the rational expectations equilibria of this model. We find that the equilibrium is not unique despite the absence of any non-convexities or strategic complementarity in the model. In addition to multiple fundamental equilibria, there ...
Working Papers , Paper 2013-011

Report
Homework in macroeconomics: household production and aggregate fluctuations

This paper explores some macroeconomic implications of including household production in an otherwise standard real business cycle model. We calibrate the model based on microeconomic evidence and long run considerations, simulate it, and examine its statistical properties Our finding is that introducing home production significantly improves the quantitative performance of the standard model along several dimensions. It also implies a very different interpretation of the nature of aggregate fluctuations.
Staff Report , Paper 135

Working Paper
Backward-looking interest-rate rules, interest-rate smoothing, and macroeconomic instability

The existing literature on the stabilizing properties of interest-rate feedback rules has stressed the perils of linking interest rates to forecasts of future inflation. Such rules have been found to give rise to aggregate fluctuations due to self-fulfilling expectations. In response to this concern, a growing literature has focused on the stabilizing properties of interest-rate rules whereby the central bank responds to a measure of past inflation. The consensus view that has emerged is that backward-looking rules contribute to protecting the economy from embarking on expectations-driven ...
Working Papers , Paper 03-4

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