Journal of Public Economics

Published by Elsevier BV

Print ISSN: 0047-2727


WIC in Your Neighborhood: New Evidence on the Impacts of Geographic Access to Clinics
  • Article

June 2013


86 Reads

A large body of evidence indicates that conditions in-utero and health at birth matter for individuals' long-run outcomes, suggesting potential value in programs aimed at pregnant women and young children. This paper uses a novel identification strategy and data from birth and administrative records over 2005-2009 to provide causal estimates of the effects of geographic access to the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). My empirical approach uses within-ZIP-code variation in WIC clinic presence together with maternal fixed effects, and accounts for the potential endogeneity of mobility, gestational-age bias, and measurement error in gestation. I find that access to WIC increases food benefit take-up, pregnancy weight gain, birth weight, and the probability of breastfeeding initiation at the time of hospital discharge. The estimated effects are strongest for mothers with a high school education or less, who are most likely eligible for WIC services.

AIDS Treatment and Intrahousehold Resource Allocation: Children’s Nutrition and Schooling in Kenya

August 2009


57 Reads

The provision of antiretroviral medications is a central component of the response to HIV/AIDS and consumes substantial public resources from around the world, but little is known about this intervention's impact on the welfare of children in treated persons' households. Using longitudinal survey data from Kenya, we examine the relationship between the provision of treatment to adults and the schooling and nutrition outcomes of children in their households. Weekly hours of school attendance increase by over 20 percent within six months after treatment is initiated for the adult patient. We find some weak evidence that young children's short-term nutritional status also improves. These results suggest how intrahousehold allocations of time and resources may be altered in response to health improvements of adults.

Measuring the costs of children. An alternative approach

November 1983


213 Reads

Problems related to the concept of the "cost of a child", more commonly known as the general equivalence scale, are reviewed. The importance of this concept is noted with regard to both theoretical and empirical studies relating to taxation, poverty, income distribution, dietary needs, income maintenance programs, supplementary and child benefits, and other social security payments. "This paper proposes a new methodology for calculating the scale using a framework which is consistent with utility theory and which overcomes the identification problem without having to enforce the arbitrary prior assumptions of recent studies. The proposed method allows easy calculation of not only the basic 'scale' parameter but also how it varies with price and reference utility. [The author illustrates] the usefulness of the procedure by estimating on U.K. budget data at two different levels of aggregation and employing two sets of quite different functional forms. The results are plausible, compare favourably with one another and, hence, confirm the robustness and usefulness of the proposed procedure."

Welfare-Induced Migration at State Borders: New Evidence from Micro-Data

April 2007


60 Reads

This paper extends and synthesizes the various approaches used in the recent welfare migration literature to both offer the most comprehensive set of tests to date for welfare migration and to also determine the relative importance of short-distance moves in welfare migration flows. The current study follows on the finding of McKinnish (2005) of welfare migration effects obtained by comparing welfare participation at state borders to state interiors. This identification strategy is extended to micro-data from the 1980 and 1990 Decennial Censuses and combined with the demographic comparisons used elsewhere in the welfare migration literature. The signs and patterns of the estimates are consistent with the presence of welfare migration effects, and the magnitudes of the estimates are consistent with the importance of short-distance moves in welfare-induced migration flows, but most of the estimates are not statistically significant.

The Effect of Entry Regulation in the Health Care Sector: The Case of Home Health

February 2014


80 Reads






The consequences of government regulation in the post-acute care sector are not well understood. We examine the effect of entry regulation on quality of care in home health care by analyzing the universe of hospital discharges during 2006 for publicly insured beneficiaries (about 4.5 million) and subsequent home health admissions to determine whether there is a significant difference in home health utilization, hospital readmission rates, and health care expenditures in states with and without Certificate of Need laws (CON) regulating entry. We identify these effects by looking across regulated and nonregulated states within Hospital Referral Regions, which characterize well-defined health care markets and frequently cross state boundaries. We find that CON states use home health less frequently, but system-wide rehospitalization rates, overall Medicare expenditures, and home health practice patterns are similar. Removing CON for home health would have negligible system-wide effects on health care costs and quality.

Consumption, Retirement and Social Security: Evaluating the Efficiency of Reform that Encourages Longer Careers

August 2012


58 Reads

This paper proposes and analyzes a Social Security reform in which individuals no longer face the OASI payroll tax after, say, age 54 or a career of 34 years, and their subsequent earnings have no bearing on their benefits. We first estimate parameters of a life-cycle model. Our specification includes non-separable preferences and possible disability. It predicts a consumption-expenditure change at retirement. We use the magnitude of the expenditure change, together with households' retirement-age decisions, to identify key structural parameters. The estimated magnitude of the change in consumption-expenditure depends importantly on the treatment of consumption by adult children of the household. Simulations indicate that the reform could increase retirement ages one year or more, equivalent variations could average more than $4,000 per household, and income tax revenues per household could increase by more than $14,000.

Migration between home country and diaspora: An economic analysis

August 1997


32 Reads

"This paper investigates the distribution of a population group between a home country and diaspora, given sequential decision-making regarding migration at the individual level. The home country is attractive to the members of the group, yet their presence there requires a fixed amount of public spending (e.g., on defense). The per-capita tax burden depends then on the size of the domestic population, reflecting a case of ¿fiscal externality'. This results in an inefficient distribution of the group between the home country and the diaspora. Encouraging immigration to the home country is an interest not only of those individuals who are currently in the home country but also of those residing in the diaspora. However, only when the burden of public spending in the home country is large enough do the latter volunteer to bear part of it. Even then, in general, this part is smaller than socially optimal."

The Effects of Low Income Housing Tax Credit Developments on Neighborhoods

June 2009


230 Reads

This paper evaluates the impacts of new housing developments funded with the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC), the largest federal project based housing program in the U.S., on the neighborhoods in which they are built. A discontinuity in the formula determining the magnitude of tax credits as a function of neighborhood characteristics generates pseudo-random assignment in the number of low income housing units built in similar sets of census tracts. Tracts where projects are awarded 30 percent higher tax credits receive approximately six more low income housing units on a base of seven units per tract. These additional new low income developments cause homeowner turnover to rise, raise property values in declining areas and reduce incomes in gentrifying areas in neighborhoods near the 30th percentile of the income distribution. LIHTC units significantly crowd out nearby new rental construction in gentrifying areas but do not displace new construction in stable or declining areas.

Sunday Liquor Laws and Crime

February 2012


75 Reads

Many jurisdictions have considered relaxing Sunday alcohol sales restrictions, yet such restrictions' effects on public health remain poorly understood. This paper analyzes the effects of legalization of Sunday packaged liquor sales on crime, focusing on the phased introduction of such sales in Virginia beginning in 2004. Differences-in-differences and triple-differences estimates indicate the liberalization increased minor crime by 5% and alcohol-involved serious crime by 10%. The law change did not affect domestic crime or induce significant geographic or inter-temporal crime displacement. The costs of this additional crime are comparable to the state's revenues from increased liquor sales.

Endogenous Fertility, Ricardian Equivalence, and Debt Management Policy

April 1990


32 Reads

This paper develops a model in which dynastic families optimally determine fertility. Government debt represents a tax on future generations and on childbearing; the Ricardian Equivalence Hypothesis does not hold. Debt is welfare reducing in that it distorts the fertility decision. An increase in government debt induces a decline in fertility and an increase in the steady state capital/labor ratio. If a government inherits an existing stock of debt, the 1st-best policy is to eliminate the debt immediately. In other situations the optimal debt management policy will not, in general, entail a total elimination of the debt.

Training, migration, and regional income disparities

October 1996


16 Reads

"It is assumed that there are two regions, that production requires both skilled and unskilled labour, and that one region is innately more productive than the other. Workers, who differ in their migration or training costs, make individually rational decisions. In equilibrium the ratio of skilled workers to unskilled workers is always higher in the more productive region. Average incomes differ between regions because regional differences in wage rates are reinforced by regional differences in the structure of employment. The model is also used to analyse the effects of policies intended to equalize the distribution of income."

Innovation and The Welfare Effects of Public Drug Insurance

April 2009


53 Reads

Rewarding inventors with inefficient monopoly power has long been regarded as the price of encouraging innovation. Prescription drug insurance escapes that trade-off and achieves an elusive goal: lowering static deadweight loss, without reducing incentives for innovation. As a result of this feature, the public provision of drug insurance can be welfare-improving, even for risk-neutral and purely self-interested consumers. The design of insurers' cost-sharing schedules can either reinforce or mitigate this result. Schedules that impose higher consumer cost-sharing requirements on more expensive drugs help ensure that insurance subsidies translate into higher utilization, rather than pure increases in manufacturer profits. Moreover, some degree of price-negotiation with manufacturers is likely to be welfare-improving, but the optimal degree depends on the size of such transactions costs, as well as the social cost of weakening innovation incentives by lowering innovator profits. These results have practical implications for the evaluation of public drug insurance programs like the US Medicaid and Medicare Part D programs, along with European insurance schemes.

Migration and education subsidies by governments. A game-theoretic analysis

April 1985


20 Reads

This study is concerned with the implications of the brain drain. "The brain drain alters both the endowments of educated labor and the cost of increasing the endowment of such labor in both countries of immigration and emigration." It thus affects government subsidies for education both directly and indirectly. "This has implications for the burden of education expenditures and net supplies of educated labor in a world with a brain drain. The [author] shows the need for inclusion of a mechanism for transfers between the involved governments if a compensation scheme is to yield Pareto efficient migration."

Does Raising the Early Retirement Age Increase Employment of Older Workers?

December 2013


463 Reads

Two pension reforms in Austria increased the early retirement age (ERA) from 60 to 62 for men and from 55 to 58.25 for women. We find that raising the ERA increased employment by 9.75 percentage points among affected men and by 11 percentage points among affected women. The reforms had large spillover effects on the unemployment insurance program but negligible effects on disability insurance claims. Specifically, unemployment increased by 12.5 percentage points among men and by 11.8 percentage points among women. The employment response was largest among high-wage and healthy workers, while low-wage and less healthy workers either continued to retire early via disability benefits or bridged the gap to the ERA via unemployment benefits. Taking spillover effects and additional tax revenues into account, we find that for a typical birth-year cohort a one year increase in the ERA resulted in a reduction of net government expenditures of 107 million euros for men and of 122 million euros for women.

Pay-as-you-go public pensions with endogenous fertility

August 1992


67 Reads

A 1986 "model of public pensions is generalized to allow for endogenous fertility. We show that gifts to the old, which can be viewed as social security contributions, are always positive in the steady state. An optimal stationary allocation is sustainable if savings are zero and fertility is exogenous. However, the optimal allocation is in general not sustainable. In particular, if a government enforces a social security plan setting the pension level at the optimal gifts and individuals optimize under the pension constraint, the resulting sustainable outcome is in general different from either the optimal or Nash outcome." The geographical focus is on developed countries.

Endogenous fertility and the Henry George Theorem

September 1996


12 Reads

"Models of endogenous demographic change deal with population size as an additional object of the welfare analysis. In these models the overlapping-generations (OLG) model serves as the basic framework. In club theory, too, population size is treated as an endogenous variable. In local public goods (LPG) models, the so-called Henry George Theorem, which requires local public expenditures to be financed by a 100% tax on aggregate land rent, is known as a (first-order) condition for club efficiency. The present paper establishes and exploits an isomorphism between steady states of the OLG model and allocations of the LPG model. The paper revisits Samuelson's fallacy concerning his goldenest golden rule and it explores institutional arrangements that sustain the optimum growth of population."

Welfare and Generational Equity in Sustainable Unfunded Pension Systems

February 2011


109 Reads

Using stochastic simulations we analyze how public pension structures spread the risks arising from demographic and economic shocks across generations. We consider several actual and hypothetical sustainable PAYGO pension structures, including: (1) versions of the US Social Security system with annual adjustments of taxes or benefits to maintain fiscal balance; (2) Sweden's Notional Defined Contribution system and several variants developed to improve fiscal stability; and (3) the German system, which also includes annual adjustments to maintain fiscal balance. For each system, we present descriptive measures of uncertainty in representative outcomes for a typical generation and across generations. We then estimate expected utility for generations based on simplifying assumptions and incorporate these expected utility calculations in an overall social welfare measure. Using a horizontal equity index, we also compare the different systems' performance in terms of how neighboring generations are treated.While the actual Swedish system smoothes stochastic fluctuations more than any other and produces the highest degree of horizontal equity, it does so by accumulating a buffer stock of assets that alleviates the need for frequent adjustments. In terms of social welfare, this accumulation of assets leads to a lower average rate of return that more than offsets the benefits of risk reduction, leaving systems with more frequent adjustments that spread risks broadly among generations as those most preferred.

Migration with Fiscal Externalities

December 1991


29 Reads

"This paper analyses the distribution of a country's population among regions when migration involves fiscal externalities. The main question addressed is whether a decentralized decision making [by] regional governments can produce an optimal population distribution...or a centralized intervention is indispensable, as argued before in the literature.... It turns out that, while with costless mobility the fiscal externality is fully internalized by voluntary interregional transfers, with costly mobility, centrally coordinated transfers still remain indispensable for achieving the socially optimal allocation."

The Intergenerational Transmission of Generosity

October 2008


88 Reads

This paper estimates the correlation between the generosity of parents and the generosity of their adult children using regression models of adult children's charitable giving. New charitable giving data are collected in the Panel Study of Income Dynamics and used to estimate the regression models. The regression models are estimated using a wide variety of techniques and specification tests, and the strength of the intergenerational giving correlations are compared with intergenerational correlations in income, wealth, and consumption expenditure from the same sample using the same set of controls. We find the religious giving of parents and children to be strongly correlated, as strongly correlated as are their income and wealth. The correlation in the secular giving (e.g., giving to the United Way, educational institutions, for poverty relief) of parents and children is smaller, similar in magnitude to the intergenerational correlation in consumption. Parents' religious giving is positively associated with children's secular giving, but in a more limited sense. Overall, the results are consistent with generosity emerging at least in part from the influence of parental charitable behavior. In contrast to intergenerational models in which parental generosity towards their children can undo government transfer policy (Ricardian equivalence), these results suggest that parental generosity towards charitable organizations might reinforce government policies, such as tax incentives aimed at encouraging voluntary transfers.

Optimal income taxation and migration: A world welfare point of view

February 1982


33 Reads

This paper considers a world in which a distortionary income tax must be employed to raise and redistribute revenue. The optimal taxation of emigrants relative to those left behind is examined under the objective of world social welfare maximization. When tastes for consumption and labor do not depend directly on residence, the optimal tax system induces individuals to reside where the marginal products of their chosen labor supplies are highest. This paper also proves the existence of an optimal tax system under which each individual resides where he pays the greatest tax. This result holds even when tastes are allowed to vary with residence in an interesting way.

Migration and Optimal Income Taxes

February 1982


160 Reads

The issue addressed in this paper is the optimal taxation of incomes earned in the home economy, and of incomes earned abroad, when people can migrate. As a preliminary, the optimal taxation of home incomes when there is migration and no taxation of foreign incomes, is discussed. Then in a more general setting, we deal with optimal taxation of different kinds of labour when another kind of labour is not taxable, and show how this bears on the taxation of foreign incomes. The last sections of the paper analyse a simple model in which people choose between taxable labour at home, taxable labour abroad, and untaxable labour. A condition is found implying that the optimal tax on foreign income is higher than on the home income of a person of equal utility.

Market Size and Innovation: Effects of Medicare Part D on Pharmaceutical Research and Development

July 2013


109 Reads

Recent evidence suggests that Medicare Part D increased prescription drug use among seniors, and increased pharmaceutical firms' revenues from sales. Previous studies also indicate that increases in market size induce pharmaceutical innovation. This paper assesses the impact of the Medicare Part D legislation on pharmaceutical research and development (R&D), using time-series data on the number of drugs entering preclinical and clinical development by therapeutic class and phase. We find that the passage and implementation of Medicare Part D is associated with significant increases in pharmaceutical R&D for therapeutic classes with higher Medicare market share.

Population uncertainty, social insurance

May 1992


17 Reads

PIP The authors examine the relation between changes in the size of the working population and the value of a social insurance contract between unborn workers and future retirees. They develop a model suggesting that such a contract will benefit both of the generations concerned. The implied geographical focus is on developed countries.

The effect of the U.S. welfare system on marital status

March 1990


184 Reads

"An issue of long-standing importance in the U.S. welfare system has been its lack of neutrality with respect to family composition, which generally provides payments only to female-headed families--that is, families with no able-bodied male present. Using data from 1969 to 1985 to examine the issue, this study finds that (1) the simple cross-sectional correlations between marital status and welfare benefits are almost always in the expected direction but are generally weak in significance; (2) that the magnitude and significance of the correlations have nevertheless grown over time; and (3) that the correlations for men are no weaker and usually stronger, especially for blacks, than those for women."

Migration Selectivity And The Effects Of Public Programs

January 1989


27 Reads

"A model of the spatial distribution of mobile heterogeneous agents is formulated to assess how a price change or program subsidy that is location-specific affects the composition of local residents via selective migration and thus biases evaluations of the effectiveness of the program based on its local consequences. Longitudinal data from Colombia are used to test the implications of migration selectivity. The findings confirm the existence of selective migration, suggesting that local subsidies to human capital attract high-income but, within income groups, low-fertility households and those with low human capital endowments. These migration patterns are shown to be consistent with the dominance of endowment over tastes heterogeneity in the population under plausible behavioral assumptions."

Reconciling voters' behavior with legislative term limits. Journal of Public Economics, 50(1), 1-14

February 1993


54 Reads

This paper provides an efficiency explanation for why rational voters simultaneously re-elect their incumbents and vote for term limits. Our explanation focuses upon a free-riding problem that voters face in choosing their political representatives. Even when all districts would benefit from replacing their political representatives, any individual district will find it costly to remove its own incumbent whose long tenure in office has made him skilled at directing government wealth transfers. Term limits offer voters a way to coordinate their actions and overcome this free-riding problem. Placing a limit on the tenure of all representatives ensures that no one district will benefit at the expense of other districts when their representative is removed from office. The argument also provides an explanation for why increased government transfers increases the length of tenure. As transfers increase, it becomes more costly to reduce the relative tenure of your representative.

Investments in human capital, wage uncertainty, and public policy. Journal of Public Economics, 87, 1521-1537

February 2003


52 Reads

The importance of risk characteristics of human capital for the design of tax and education policy is explored. Wages are uncertain and education, while increasing the expected wage, may increase or decrease wage variance. The government has strong reasons to encourage human capital formation in the latter case, partly due to the insurance effect of human capital, and partly due to the way the individuals—under a plausible restriction on ‘prudence’—respond to changes in risk. The analysis is illustrated using two models of education: one where education helps the individuals make better occupational choices, and a standard risk-augmented Becker-type model.

Does the balance of power within a family matter? The case of the Retirement Equity Act. Journal of Public Economics 89(9-10), 1699-1717

May 2002


67 Reads

This paper studies within-family decision making regarding investment in income protection for surviving spouses using a simple and tractable Nash-bargaining model. A change in US pension law (the Retirement Equity Act of 1984) is used as an instrument to derive predictions from the bargaining model about the household demand for survivor annuities and life insurance and to contrast these with the predictions of the classical single-utility-function model of the household. In the empirical part of the paper, the predictions of the classical model are rejected in favor of the predictions of the Nash-bargaining model.

Do federal grants boost school spending? Evidence from title I. Journal of Public Economics, 88, 1771-1792

August 2004


100 Reads

One of the federal government's main elementary and secondary education programs is Title I, which allocates money for compensatory education to school districts based on child poverty. I use sharp changes in per-pupil grant amounts surrounding the release of decennial census data to identify effects of Title I on state and local education revenue, and how much the program ultimately increases spending by recipient school districts. I find that state and local revenue efforts initially are unaffected by Title I changes, but that local governments substantially and significantly crowd out changes in Title I within in a 3-year period.

Adverse Selection in Annuity Markets: Evidence From the British Life Annuity Act of 1808

June 2009


38 Reads

We study adverse selection using data from an 1808 Act of British Parliament that effectively opened a market for life annuities. Our analysis indicates significant selection effects. The evidence for adverse selection is strongest for a sub-sample of annuitants whose annuities were purchased by profit-seeking speculators, a sub-sample in which “advantageous selection” resulting from multi-dimensional heterogeneity is unlikely to have been significant. These results support the view that adverse selection can be masked by advantageous selection in empirical studies of standard insurance markets.

Public economics at the Ecole des Ponts et Chaussees: 1830–1850

July 1973


93 Reads

If economics is no longer the Dismal Science, good news still does not always travel fast amongst economists. Delay is especially likely if the good news happens to appear first in a journal for highway engineers; and delay is yet more likely, as far as English-speaking economists are concerned, if the engineering journal happens to be the Annales des Ponts et Chaussées.

The Evolution of Top Incomes in an Egalitarian Society: Sweden, 1903–2004

February 2008


129 Reads

This study presents new homogenous series of top income shares in Sweden over the period 1903-2004. We find that, starting from levels of inequality approximately equal to those in other Western countries at the time, the income share of the Swedish top decile drops sharply over the first eighty years of the twentieth century. Most of the decrease takes place before the expansion of the welfare state and by 1950 Swedish top income shares were already lower than in other countries. The fall is almost entirely due to a dramatic drop in the top percentile explained mostly by decreases in capital income, while the lower half of the top decile - consisting mainly of wage earners - experiences virtually no change over this period. In the past decades top income shares evolve very differently depending on whether capital gains are included or not. When included, Sweden's experience resembles that in the U.S. and the U.K. with sharp increases in top incomes. Excluding capital gains, Sweden looks more like the continental European countries where top income shares have remained relatively constant. A possible interpretation of our results is that Sweden over the past 20 years has been a country where it is more important to make the right financial investments than to earn a lot to become rich.

Family Background and Income during the Rise of the Welfare State: Brother Correlations in Income for Swedish Men Born 1932–1968
  • Article
  • Full-text available

June 2009


113 Reads

We investigate if the association between family background and income in Sweden has changed for men born between 1932 and 1968. Our main finding is that the share of the variance in long-run income that is attributable to family background, the so-called brother correlation in income, has fallen by some 17% from 0.49 for the cohorts of brothers born in the early 1930s to below 0.32 for the cohorts born around 1950. From then on, the correlations have inched back up to around 0.37. We report suggestive evidence that the decline is driven by changes in education.

A Method for Estimating the Effect of a Subsidy on the Receiver's Resource Constraint: with an Application to US Local Governments 1964-1971

August 1978


121 Reads

Most studies of the effects of subsidies or recipient behavior accept the nominal legal provisions of a grant as defining the actual effective resource constraint faced by the receiver. This paper argues that to the contrary the true effect of a subsidy on the receiver's resource constraint can not be read from nominal administrative requirements. Therefore, an indirect statistical method is required to discover the shape of the post subsidy budget line. This paper develops such a method, which is then applied to U.S. local government expenditure decisions on education for the period 1964–71.

Time Inconsistency and Fiscal Policy: Empirical Analysis of US States, 1969–89

February 1993


361 Reads

We offer an extensive and robust test of the time-inconsistency theory of fiscal politics. We employ data of U.S. states from 1969 to 1989, and the results of our tests indicate the variables such as legislative stability and executive term limits have strongly predictable impacts on the volatility of various measures of fiscal policy.

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