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Following the 2009 L'Aquila earthquake, financing of reconstruction by the Italian central government resulted in a sharp and unanticipated discontinuity in grants across municipalities that were ex-ante very similar. Using the emergency financing law as an instrument, we identify the causal effect of municipal government spending on local activity, controlling for the negative supply shock from the earthquake. In our estimates, this "reconstruction multiplier" is around unity, and we show that the grants provided public insurance. Economic activity contracted in municipalities that did not receive the grants, while it expanded--or at least did not contract--in municipalities that did receive them. Our results suggest several policy implications with respect to the allocation mechanism of such grants.
AUTHORS: Porcelli, Francesco; Trezzi, Riccardo
Understanding Declining Fluidity in the U.S. Labor Market
We document a clear downward trend in labor market fluidity that is common across a variety of measures of worker and job turnover. This trend dates to at least the early 1980s if not somewhat earlier. Next we pull together evidence on a variety of hypotheses that might explain this downward trend. It is only partly related to population demographics and is not due to the secular shift in industrial composition. Moreover, the decline in labor market fluidity seems unlikely to have been caused by an improvement in worker-firm matching, the formalization of hiring practices, or an increase in land use regulation or other regulations. Plausible avenues for further exploration include changes in the worker-firm relationship, particularly with regard to compensation adjustment; changes in firm characteristics such as firm size and age; and a decline in social trust, which may have increased the cost of job search or made both parties in the hiring process more risk averse.
AUTHORS: Molloy, Raven S.; Smith, Christopher L.; Trezzi, Riccardo; Wozniak, Abigail
Consumer Spending and Fiscal Consolidation: Evidence from a Housing Tax Experiment
A major change of the property tax system in 2011 generated significant variation in the amount of housing taxes paid by Italian households. Using new questions added to the Survey on Household Income and Wealth (SHIW), we exploit this variation to provide an unprecedented analysis of the effects of property taxes on consumer spending. A tax on the main dwelling leads to large expenditure cuts among households with mortgage debt and low liquid wealth but generates only small revenues for the government. In contrast, higher tax rates on other residential properties reduce private savings and yield large tax revenues.
AUTHORS: Surico, Paolo; Trezzi, Riccardo