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The Time for Austerity: Estimating the Average Treatment Effect of Fiscal Policy
Elevated government debt levels in advanced economies have risen rapidly as sovereigns absorbed private sector losses and cyclical deficits blew up in the Global Financial Crisis and subsequent slump. A rush to fiscal austerity followed but its justifications and impacts have been heavily debated. Research on the effects of austerity on macroeconomic aggregates remains unsettled, mired by the difficulty of identifying multipliers from observational data. This paper reconciles seemingly disparate estimates of multipliers within a unified framework. We do this by first evaluating the validity ...
Decomposing the Fiscal Multiplier
Unusual circumstances often coincide with unusual fiscal policy actions. Much attention has been paid to estimates of how fiscal policy affects the macroeconomy, but these are typically average treatment effects. In practice, the fiscal “multiplier” at any point in time depends on the monetary policy response. Using the IMF fiscal consolidations dataset for identification and a new decomposition-based approach, we show how to evaluate these monetary-fiscal effects. In the data, the fiscal multiplier varies considerably with monetary policy: it can be zero, or as large as 2 depending on ...
Employment and Welfare Effects of the Quota for Disabled Workers in Brazil
I study the effect of a quota for disabled workers on the labor market and on welfare. Using a task-based model, I show that the effect of a quota will depend on the productivity of disabled workers and their labor supply elasticity. I estimate the productivity of disabled workers using variation from inspections of the quota. I find that the quota increased the hiring of disabled workers, but it reduced wages and employment of non-disabled workers, suggesting that the quota reduced firms’ productivity. I estimate the labor supply elasticity of disabled workers using heterogeneous exposure ...
Introducing the Distributional Financial Accounts of the United States
This paper describes the construction of the Distributional Financial Accounts (DFAs), a new dataset containing quarterly estimates of the distribution of U.S. household wealth since 1989, and provides the first look at the resulting data. The DFAs build on two existing Federal Reserve Board statistical products --- quarterly aggregate measures of household wealth from the Financial Accounts of the United States and triennial wealth distribution measures from the Survey of Consumer Finances --- to incorporate distributional information into a national accounting framework. The DFAs complement ...
Racial Inequality in Unemployment Insurance Receipt and Take-Up
This paper studies differences in receipt and take-up of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits among White and Black individuals. We combine state-level UI regulations with data containing detailed information on individuals’ work history and UI receipt. Black individuals who separate from a job are 24% less likely to receive UI than White individuals. The UI receipt gap stems primarily from lower take-up of UI benefits among likely eligible individuals, as opposed to differences in benefit eligibility. Statistical decompositions indicate that about one-half of the take-up gap is explained ...
State-Dependent Local Projections: Understanding Impulse Response Heterogeneity
An impulse response is the dynamic average effect of an intervention across horizons. We use the well-known Kitagawa-Blinder-Oaxaca decomposition to explore a response’s heterogeneity over time and over states of the economy. This can be implemented with a simple extension to the usual local projection specification that nevertheless keeps the model linear in parameters. Using our new decomposition-based approach, we show how to unpack heterogeneity in the fiscal multiplier, an object that at any point in time may depend on a number of potentially correlated factors, including existing ...