Friday, July 25, 2014

Firms and sickness absences

In a new working paper, Thomas Leoni and I investigate how firms respond to changed costs of their workers' sickness absencess. In Austria, similar to many countries, social security insures firms against their workers' sickness absences by refunding (part of) the wages paid to absent workers if they are too sick to work.

We look at sickness absences before and after a change in the Austrian social security which defined whether a firm had to pay a deductible (a co-payment) or not. The insurance may create a moral hazard for firms, leading to inefficient monitoring of absences or to an underinvestment in the prevention of absences. Increasing the costs for firms (by changing the amount a firm has to bear should a worker become too sick to work) might lead to stricter monitoring, better prevention of accidents or different hiring practices.

The discontinuity of the insurance allows us to to estimate the differences in the incidences and durations of sicknesses for firms that faced the deductible and those who did not. We find that the deductible did not lead to different sickness outcomes and conclude that relatively low deductibles have little impact on firms' management of sicknesses.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Witch hunts and taxes

Noel D. Johnson and Mark Koyama use witchtrials in France to investigate how the rule of law was established in modern states. (Earlier working paper which might differ from the published article.)

"Economists agree that the rule of law is an important correlate of economic growth (Rodrik, Subramanian, and Trebbi 2004). However, relatively little has been written about how the rule of law emerged and about how investments in fiscal capacity affected legal capacity. One reason for this is that historical measures of legal capacity are extremely hard to find." (p78)

"Witchcraft was a very difficult crime to prosecute in early modern France if judges adhered to the letter of the law. As such, witches were most likely to be tried and convicted in regions where magistrates departed from established legal statutes. We argue that collecting taxes required standardized and properly enforced judicial procedures. Hence, as the fiscal demands on the state increased, central governments had an incentive to reorganize and coordinate the enforcement of judicial rules. Our hypothesis is that as governments did so, the frequency of witch trials decreased. Witch trials were [...] symptomatic of weak legal institutions."( p78)

Their preferred estimate implies a "1-standard-deviation increase in taxes collected per capita in a region results in a decrease in witch trials of about one-half of a standard deviation (p97)"

To sum, fiscal and legal capacities of modern states are complements and a common legal standard appears to require a strong fiscal base.

Monday, May 26, 2014

EU elections--young men and young women in Austria

This is a striking contrast:

Compare young men with young women (source: der Standard):

I wonder about household formation...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Name as a Quality Signal

A firm's choice of a name is a signal of quality
The average plumbing firm whose name begins with "A" or a number receives fi ve times more service complaints than other firms, and also charges higher prices.
Ryan C McDevitt has this paper forthcoming in the Journal of Political Economy.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Male Circumcision

I did not know this:
male circumcision is one of the most cost-effective HIV prevention interventions. The most recent simulations suggest that scaling up medical male circumcision to 80 percent coverage in priority countries could avert approximately 22 percent HIV infections through 2025
from Chinkhumba, Godlonton, and Thornton (2014), who study the demand for male circumcision in Malawi.

Actual demand in Malawi is less than 10 percent --- far from the 80 percent stated above. Demand, however, is greater at lower prices, but information appears to be an important reason for actual take-up, too.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Wieviel verdient denn wer in Österreich?

Der neo-Politiker Egon Freund hat in einem Interview das durchschnittliche Bruttoeinkommen eines Arbeiters auf rund Euro 3.000,- pro Monat geschätzt. Das hat eine heftige Diskussion losgetreten--die Journalistinnen Eva Linsinger und Rosemarie Schwaiger haben im Artikel den Betrag mit rund Euro 2.000,- angegeben.

Die beste Quelle für derartige Zahlen ist der "Allgemeine Einkommensbericht des Rechnungshofes" (genauer: "Bericht des Rechnungshofes über die durchschnittlichen Einkommen der gesamten Bevölkerung gemäß Art. 1 § 8 Abs. 4 des Bezügebegrenzungsgesetzes, BGBl. I Nr. 64/1997, getrennt nach Branchen, Berufsgruppen und Funktionen für die Jahre 2010 und 2011").

Hier findet sich auf Seite 211 folgende Übersicht für Personen, die 2011 vollzeitlich beschäftigt waren (ohne Lehrlinge), die Daten basieren auf den Lohnsteuermeldungen und Sozialversicherungsdaten:

Median Durchschnitt
Arbeiter und -innen 26.264 26.486
Angestellte 35.803 42.954
Vertragsbedienstete 35.251 37.686
Beamte und -innen 50.657 53.896

Der Brutto-Netto-Rechner des BM für Finanzen gibt für einen Arbeiter in OÖ, bei einem monatlichen Bezug von Euro 3.000,- (ohne Kinder, ohne Pendlerpauschale) ein Jahreseinkommen für 2011 von Brutto Euro 42.000,- an. Ein derartiger Monatsbezug von Euro 2000 resultiert in einem Jahreseinkommen von Euro 28.000,-, was ungefähr dem durschnittlichen Bruttojahreseinkommen von (männlichen) Arbeitern im Jahr 2011 entspricht (Euro 28.082,-, Seite 215).

Thursday, November 28, 2013

interpreting scientific claims

Nature has a great list of

20 concepts that should be part of the education of civil servants, politicians, policy advisers and journalists — and anyone else who may have to interact with science or scientists. Politicians with a healthy scepticism of scientific advocates might simply prefer to arm themselves with this critical set of knowledge.

Let's improve the "education of civil servants, politicians, policy advisers and journalists"--they seem to need it!