Ifo Institute
  • München, Germany
Recent publications
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increase in public debt in most countries, and the Ukraine war is likely to have similar effects. This will increase fiscal pressure in the future. We study how the shape of the optimal nonlinear income tax schedule is affected by this increase. We calibrate the workhorse optimal income tax model to five European countries: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK. Applying an inverse-optimum approach to the pre COVID-19 economies we obtain the Pareto weights implicitly applied by the different countries. We then ask how the schedule of marginal and average tax rates should be optimally adjusted to the increase in fiscal pressure. For all countries, we find that the increase in fiscal pressure leads to a less progressive optimal tax schedule both in terms of marginal and average tax rates.
We estimate the effects of a European Carbon Border Adjustment (CBA) mechanism on exports, real GDP, welfare and emissions using the multi-region, multi-sector structural gravity model of Larch and Wanner (2017). Incorporating the main industries covered in the proposal of the European Commission from mid-2021, as well as its other design features, and assuming prevailing CO2 prices, we find only small effects of the European CBA mechanism. EU exports are estimated to decline by 0.04%, while CO2 emissions in EU countries increase by 0.24%. These negligible results mask larger adjustments at the sectoral level. The structural changes will shift the EU economy towards more emission-intensive industries, which will make achieving its climate goals harder. On the positive side, the European CBA mechanism will reduce global emissions by 0.08%. Given the minute economic costs in terms of GDP and welfare losses, the CBA mechanism seems an appropriate policy tool, though its proposed design will not be able to make a significant contribution to mitigating global climate change.
The ifo Institute is Germany’s largest business survey provider, with the ifo Business Climate Germany as one of the most important leading indicators for gross domestic product. However, the ifo Business Survey is not solely limited to the Business Climate and also delivers a multitude of further indicators to forecast several important economic variables. This paper gives a literature overview over existing studies that deal with the forecasting power of various ifo indicators both for gross domestic product and further economic variables such as exports. Overall, the various indicators from the ifo Business Survey can be seen as leading indicators for a multitude of variables representing the German economy, making them a powerful tool both for an in-depth business cycle diagnosis and for applied forecasting work.
The transport sector is the only sector where carbon emissions continue to grow. This has led policy makers to propose ambitious policies to reduce emissions in the car sector, in particular carbon emissions standards, portfolio mandates for Electric Vehicles and purchase taxes or subsidies. We use a stylized two-period model for the car manufacturing sector to compare the cost efficiency of these policies. The model has gasoline fueled cars (GV) compete with battery electric cars (EV). Both types of cars have endogenous technological progress that is triggered by environmental policies, including tradable carbon emissions standards, portfolio mandates, carbon taxes, purchase taxes and R&D subsidies. Parked EVs can serve as batteries that help grid operators to shift off peak (renewable) electricity to peak hour supply. The model is calibrated to evaluate the EU policy to reduce average carbon emissions of new cars by 37,5% in 2030 compared to 2021. We assess the cost-efficiency of policy instruments evaluating vehicle costs and prices, fuel costs, and externalities. We find that a carbon emissions standard achieves emission reductions at a much lower cost than a portfolio mandate for electric cars.
Banks have always played an ambivalent role in financial markets. On the one hand, they provide essential services for the market; on the other hand, problems in the banking sector can send shock waves through the entire economy. Given this prominent role, it is not surprising that Pereira and Rua [2018. “Asset Pricing with a Bank Risk Factor.” Journal of Money, Credit and Banking 50(5): 993–1032. doi:10.1111/jmcb.12473] found that the health of the banking sector exerts an influence on stock returns in the US. Understanding the relationship between banks and their impact on the asset prices of non-financials is essential to evaluate the risk emanating from an unhealthy banking sector and should be considered in new regulatory requirements. The aim of this study is to determine if the health of European banks is of such importance for the European stock market so that spillover effects are visible. Our results show that none of our banking-health variables have explanatory power on the cross-section of European stock returns. These findings contrast those for the US. The reasons may be manifold, from an unimportant liquidity provisioning channel over reduced room for actions due to regulatory requirements up to a moral hazard situation in Europe, where investors strongly rely on the governmental bailouts of distressed banks.
Many theories have been proposed to explain why social expenditures have increased in industrialized countries. The determinants include globalization, political–institutional variables such as government ideology and electoral motives, demographic change, and economic variables, such as unemployment. Scholars have modeled social expenditures as the dependent variable in many empirical studies. We employ extreme bounds analysis and Bayesian model averaging to examine robust predictors of social expenditures. Our sample contains 31 OECD countries over the period between 1980 and 2016. The results suggest that trade globalization, the fractionalization of the party system, and fiscal balances are negatively associated with social expenditures. Unemployment, population aging, banking crises, social globalization, and public debt enter positively. Moreover, social expenditures have increased under left-wing governments when de facto trade globalization was prominent, and at the time of banking crises. We conclude that policymakers in individual countries rely on domestic conditions to craft social policies—globalization, aging, and business cycles notwithstanding.
Information provided by experts is believed to play a key role in shaping attitudes towards policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This paper uses a survey experiment to assess whether providing citizens with expert information about the health risk of COVID-19 and the economic costs of lockdown measures affects their attitudes towards these policies. Our findings show that providing respondents with information about COVID-19 fatalities among the elderly raises support for lockdown measures, while information about their economic costs decreases support. However, different population subgroups react differently. Men and younger respondents react more sensitively to information about lockdown costs, while women and older respondents are more susceptible towards information regarding fatality rates. Strikingly, our results are entirely driven by respondents who underestimate the fatality of COVID-19, who represent a majority.
Supplying a crucial exhaustible resource to the world market induces profound repercussions in the capital markets. Employing a two-country model with international trade, we examine how a resource-rich country with monopolistic market power accounts for this interplay with the capital market in its extraction decision over time. We investigate new supply motives resulting from the general-equilibrium feedbacks and from capital asset holdings of the resource-rich country. Recognizing the influence of resource supply on capital returns can lead the resource monopolist to accelerate or postpone extraction while the influence on capital accumulation poses an incentive to accelerate extraction and to exploit the importers’ increased future resource dependence. Overall, in the reference calibration, the conventional conservationist bias of resource market power is reversed. The general-equilibrium supply motives substantially alter the resource monopolist’s reaction to more competitive capital-intensive resource substitutes, demonstrating the relevance of our observations for future technological change. Similarly, these supply motives may reverse the effects of a future tax on the exporting countries’ asset holdings.
I investigate the effect of teacher subject-specific qualifications on student science achievement using data from TIMSS 2015, a large-scale assessment of student skills. I exploit the availability of student test scores in four different science subjects—biology, chemistry, physics, and earth science—to test whether teachers holding a subject-specific qualification raise student test scores. Using a within-student within-teacher approach, which controls for student and teacher heterogeneity, I find that teacher subject-specific qualification in one subject increases student test scores by 3.5% of a standard deviation in the same subject. The effect is stronger for female students, especially when they are taught by female teachers, for disadvantaged students, and in lower-performing countries. The mediation analysis reveals that 20% of the effect is explained by teachers feeling more confident to teach topics in subjects in which they hold subject-specific qualifications.
The extensive literature on university graduates’ regional mobility highlights the importance of early mobility, but is primarily descriptive. We contribute to the identification of the effect of mobility upon high-school graduation on subsequent mobility across labour market regions. The data permit a novel identification strategy that uses the distance to university as an instrument. To ensure comparability, we select high-school graduates from only the suburban region of a large German agglomeration in a university graduate survey. We find that early mobility leads to a sizable increase in later labour mobility, which has implications for labour market efficiency and distributional policy concerns.
The ifo Education Survey is a representative opinion survey of the German voting-age population on education topics that has been conducted annually since 2014. It covers public preferences on a wide range of education policy issues ranging from early childhood education, schools, and apprenticeships to university education and life-long learning. The dataset comprises several survey experiments that facilitate investigating the causal effects of information provision, framing, and question design on answering behavior. This paper gives an overview of the survey content and methodology, describes the data, and explains how researchers can access the dataset of over 4000 participants per wave.
We examine the relative importance of time and state dependence in the price-setting decisions of firms using a monthly panel of German firms over the period 1980–2017. We propose a refined version of time dependence by introducing different hazard functions for price increases and decreases. We find three sets of results. First, time dependence is much more important for price setting than what the previous literature has found. Second, price decreases can be well explained by time dependence alone. Price increases are best predicted by the interaction of time-dependent and firm-specific state factors. Third, time dependence for price increases and decreases look completely different from each other. Our empirical results support the notion that theoretical models should integrate both time and state dependence.
The EU taxonomy on sustainable activities is expected to pave the way for steering capital towards sustainable investments. However, the economic effects are problematic. Promoting “green” capital will lead to income losses due to productivity differences, while greenhouse gas emissions do not change at a given EU emission allowance cap. Worldwide emissions may even increase as carbon intensive production moves outside the EU. While green finance may be used to bind future governments, committing to future climate goals directly is a superior policy since efficiency losses can be avoided.
Objective : The purpose of the study is to examine the prevalence of loneliness in Europe in 2016 and during the first months – April-July 2020 – of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to assess whether the risk factors associated with loneliness have changed after the outbreak of the pandemic. Method : The analysis is based on two cross-country surveys, namely the 2016 European Quality of Life Survey and the 2020 Living, Working and COVID-19 Online Survey. Results : The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified already worrying levels of loneliness in Europe. Young adults have been the most severely hit by social distancing measures. Living alone has made social distancing measures more painful. Health and financial status are strong associates of loneliness, irrespective of the time period. Conclusion : This analysis will help anticipate the potential consequences that forced social isolation might have triggered in the population and identify populations more vulnerable to loneliness. Further monitoring is important to assess whether the registered increase in loneliness is transient or chronic and to design targeted loneliness interventions.
We survey the empirical literature in economics on the impact of media technologies on social capital. Guided by a simple model of information and collective action, we cover a range of different outcomes related to social capital—from social and political participation to interpersonal trust—in its benign and destructive manifestations. The impact of media technologies hinges on their content (information versus entertainment), their effectiveness in fostering coordination, and the networks they create as well as on individual characteristics and media consumption choices. Expected final online publication date for the Annual Review of Economics, Volume 14 is August 2022. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.
We study whether technology gains in sectors related to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) increase productivity in the rest of the economy. To separate exogenous gains in ICT from other technological progress, we use the relative price of ICT goods and services in a structural VAR with medium-run restrictions. Using local projections to estimate the effect of ICT-related technology gains on sectoral technology (TFP), we find two sets of results. First, since the mid-2000s there have been positive and persistent technology spillovers to sectors intensively using ICT. Second, neglecting leasing activity leads to an overestimation of the TFP response for all sectors except the leasing sector, where it is strongly underestimated.
Does the regional concentration of immigrants of the same ethnicity affect immigrant children’s acquisition of host country language skills and educational attainment? We exploit the concentration of five ethnic groups in 1985 emanating from the exogenous placement of guest workers across German regions during the 1960s and 1970s. Results from a model with region and ethnicity fixed effects indicate that exposure to a higher own ethnic concentration impairs immigrant children’s host country language proficiency and increases school dropout. A key mediating factor for the detrimental language effect is parents’ lower speaking proficiency in the host country language, whereas inter-ethnic contacts with natives and economic conditions do not play a role in language proficiency or educational attainment.
Zusammenfassung Im vorliegenden Beitrag untersuchen Clemens Fuest, Florian Neumeier und Daniel Stöhlker die Auswirkungen des Tankrabatts auf die Preise für Superbenzin und Diesel an deutschen Tankstellen. Die Preiseffekte werden auf Basis eines Differenz-in-Differenzen-Ansatzes geschätzt, in dem Frankreich als Kontrollgruppe dient. Den Ergebnissen zufolge wurde der Tankrabatt im Fall von Diesel zu 100 Prozent an die Autofahrerinnen und Autofahrer weitergegeben. Im Fall von Superbenzin beträgt die Weitergabe 85 Prozent. Dass die Preise dennoch nicht dauerhaft gesunken sind, hat andere als steuerliche Gründe. Aus diesen Ergebnissen folgt aus Sicht der Autoren jedoch nicht, dass der Tankrabatt wirtschaftspolitisch eine sinnvolle Antwort auf die steigenden Energiepreise ist. Er setze das falsche Preissignal und komme vorwiegend Haushalten zugute, die überdurchschnittlich hohe Einkommen erzielen. Außerdem erhöhe er die Nachfrage nach Kraftstoffen und stehe damit im Konflikt zu ökologischen Zielen.
We identify and examine a new effect of fuel economy (CAFE) standards on welfare through a long-run spatial expansion of the urban form (“urban adjustment effect”) caused by lower per-mile driving costs and the distortion in the vehicle market due to CAFE standards. By integrating household-level vehicle choice and the automobile market into a calibrated monocentric city model, we find that, for a carbon emission decrease of 80 percent, the long-run urban adjustment effect adds a relevant monthly welfare cost of up to 20 Dollars to the medium-run welfare cost of CAFE compliance of 128 Dollars per month (+15 percent). These welfare costs can be alleviated by about one third through the combination of CAFE with urban growth boundaries. For fuel taxes, on the other hand, the urban adjustment effect causes a welfare gain of a similar magnitude.
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69 members
Klaus Wohlrabe
  • Department of Business Cycle Analyses and Surveys
Joachim Ragnitz
  • Dresden Branch
Gabriel J Felbermayr
  • International Trade
Jana Lippelt
  • Center for Energy, Climate and Resources
München, Germany
Head of institution
Hans-Werner Sinn