Estimating dynamic panel models: backing out the Nickell Bias
We propose a novel estimator for the dynamic panel model, which solves the failure of strict exogeneity by calculating the bias in the first-order conditions as a function of the autoregressive parameter and solving the resulting equation. We show that this estimator performs well as compared with approaches in current use. We also propose a general method for including predetermined variables in fixed-effects panel regressions that appears to perform well.
Medicare and the Geography of Financial Health
We use a five percent sample of Americans’ credit bureau data to study the effects of public health insurance on the geography of consumer financial health. Exploiting the nearly universal eligibility for Medicare at age 65, we find a 30 percent reduction in the level of debts in collections with limited effects on other financial outcomes. Medicare reduces the geographic variation in collections by two-thirds at age 65 and halves the geographic correlation between collections and demographics like race and education. Areas that experienced the largest gains in financial health at age 65 ...
The Spread of COVID-19 and the BCG Vaccine: A Natural Experiment in Reunified Germany
As COVID-19 has spread across the globe, several observers noticed that countries still administering an old vaccine against tuberculosis—the BCG vaccine—have had fewer COVID-19 cases and deaths per capita in the early stages of the outbreak. This paper uses a geographic regression discontinuity analysis to study whether and how COVID-19 prevalence changes discontinuously at the old border between West Germany and East Germany. The border used to separate two countries with very different vaccination policies during the Cold War era. We provide formal evidence that there is indeed a ...
The Affordable Care Act and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis
Did Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act affect the course of the COVID-19 pandemic? We answer this question using a regression discontinuity design for counties near the borders of states that expanded Medicaid with states that did not. Relevant covariates change continuously across the Medicaid expansion frontier. We find that 1) health insurance changes discontinuously at the frontier, 2) COVID-19 cases do not change discontinuously at the frontier but the precision of this estimate is low, 3) COVID-19 deaths do not change discontinuously at the frontier and the confidence ...
Credit Access and Mobility during the Flint Water Crisis
How do credit-constrained communities cope with the financial consequences of environmental crises? Beginning in April 2014, the residents of Flint, Michigan, were exposed to lead-contaminated water resulting from a series of governmental missteps. In this paper, we use the spatial distribution of lead and galvanized pipes in Flint to study the effect of the crisis on households’ financial health, including loan balances, repayment of outstanding debt, and Equifax Risk Scores, as well as on household mobility. We find that relatively more affected households, as measured by exposure to lead ...
A Discussion of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century: By How Much Is r Greater than g?
Thomas Piketty?s 2014 book Capital in the Twenty-First Century may have been a greater sensation upon publication than Karl Marx?s nineteenth-century Das Kapital. It made the New York Times bestseller list, generated myriad reviews and responses from economists at top institutions, and was the subject of a standing-room-only session at the recent American Economic Association annual meeting. In Capital, Piketty argues that wealth inequality is set to rise from its relatively low levels in the 1950s through the 1970s to the very high levels it once occupied at the dawn of the Industrial ...
A Discussion of Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Does More Capital Increase Inequality?
My aim in the second post of this series on Thomas Piketty's Capital in the Twenty-First Century is to talk about the economist's research accomplishment in reconstructing capital-output ratios for developed countries from the Industrial Revolution to the present and using them to explain why wealth inequality will rise in developed countries. I will then provide a critical discussion of his interpretation of the history of capital in the developed world. Finally, I'll end by discussing Piketty's main policy proposal: the global tax on capital.
The “Cadillac Tax”: Driving Firms to Change Their Plans?
Since the 1940s, employers that provide health insurance for their employees can deduct the cost as a business expense, but the government does not treat the value of that coverage as taxable income. This exclusion of employer-provided health insurance from taxable income?$248 billion in 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office?is a huge subsidy for health spending. Many economists cite the distortionary effects of this tax subsidy as an important reason for why U.S. health care spending accounts for such a large share of the economy and why spending historically has grown so ...
Banking Deserts, Branch Closings, and Soft Information
U.S. banks have shuttered nearly 5,000 branches since the financial crisis, raising concerns that more low-income and minority neighborhoods may be devolving into ?banking deserts? with inadequate, or no, mainstream financial services. We investigate this issue and also ask whether such neighborhoods are particularly exposed to branch closings?a development that, according to recent research, could reduce credit access, even with other branches present, by destroying ?soft? information about borrowers that influences lenders? credit decisions. Our findings are mixed, suggesting that further ...
Is Health Insurance Good for Your Financial Health?
What is the purpose of health care? What is the purpose of health insurance? When people fall ill, they seek health care in order to get better. But insurance has a slightly different function: Its main role is not to protect our health per se, but to protect our finances. For most people, lifetime health expenditures are quite low. However, some people have enormous health costs owing to major illnesses or health conditions. And this is where health insurance comes in?its goal (like that of any other form of insurance) is to protect these individuals against large, and sometimes ruinous, ...