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Year 125 - Vol. 71 - N. 1 October 2012

Matthew Effects and R&D Subsidies: Knowledge Cumulability in high-Tech and Low-Tech Industries

C. Antonelli, F. Crespi

The paper explores the causes and effects of persistence in the discretionary allocation of public subsidies to R&D activities performed by private firms in high-tech and low-tech industries. It applies the distinction between vicious Matthew-effect and virtuous Matthew-effect. The former qualifies the persistence in the discretionary allocation of public subsidies in terms of sheer reputation based upon previous awards. The latter is identified by the role of the accumulation of competence stemming from past grants in current R&D activities. Virtuous Matthew effects are found in high-tech industries where knowledge cumulability is higher. In traditional industries, vicious Matthew effects prevail for the lower levels of knowledge cumulability. Here reputation-Matthew-effects can lead to substitution of private funds with public ones.

J.E.L. Classification: H25, H32, L52

The Strenghts and Failures of Incentive Mechanisms in Notional Defined Contribution Pension Systems

A. Marano, C. Mazzaferro, M. Morciano

Public pension systems based on the Notional Defined Contribution (NDC) principle were introduced during the ‘90s in Italy, Sweden and Poland. They should realize actuarial equity and incentive neutrality. However, when one considers the presence of NDC pensions together with minimum and social assistance pensions, this is no longer true and a regressive feature of NDC systems emerges. We examine the extent of such incentive problem in all three countries mentioned and discuss how it could be addressed by changing the cumulation rules for social assistance and NDC pensions. In the Italian case, the use dynamic micro-simulation model, allows us to examine the incentive issue also in its distributive and financial aspects. The same model allows us to also assess some major effects of the December 2011 pension reform, which, however, being very prescriptive, could show some side-effects on the incentive and distributional aspects we focus on.

J.E.L. Classification: H55, J26, C51
Keywords: public pension systems, minimum pension, dynamic micro-simulation

European Emission Trading Scheme and Environmental Innovation: an Empirical Analysis using CIS Data for Italy

S. Borghesi, G. Cainelli, M. Mazzanti

We study the driving forces behind the adoption of environmental innovations (EI) in the Italian economy over 2006-2008 through empirical analyses of the new wave of Community Innovation Survey data that covered EI in different contexts. Given the shortage of studies on the innovation effects of ETS at micro econometric level, we investigate whether the first phase of EU ETS has exerted some effects on EI. We then include in a typical probit innovation function some policy stringency indicators for the ETS sectors, to verify whether the likelihood of adopting EI is stimulated among other factors by the ETS lever. We test a wide and comprehensive set of potential drivers, including internal factors (R&D), external factors (cooperation, networking) and, mostly important, the dynamic incentives to innovation possibly provided by the ETS implementation. Estimates show that external forces and complementarity with other management practices are particularly relevant to increase the adoption of relatively new and radical technologies: relationships with other firms and institutions, local public funding, group membership are the key factors in this sense. Training is also positively related to EI, confirming recent evidence. The role of ETS on EI seems instead to be weak, but it turns out to be significant for energy efficiency innovations and for consumption level/good related reductions of atmospheric and water emissions.

J.E.L. Classification: C21, L2, O33, Q38, Q55
Keywords: environmental innovation, industrial sectors, ETS, innovation drivers, CIS data

Year 124 - Vol. 70 - N.3 December 2011

The Transmission of the Global Financial Crisis to the Italian Economy

C. Caivano, L. Rodano, S. Siviero

This paper carries out a counterfactual analysis of the Italian economy over the period 2008-2010, assuming that the global crisis hitting the economy never occurred. Under this circumstance, economic activity in Italy would have been higher by 6.5 percentage points at the end of 2010; crisis factors curtailed GDP growth by 10 percentage points, while economic policies mitigated the impact of crisis factors by 3.5 percentage points. Over three quarters of the impact of the crisis were “imported from abroad”; the worsening of domestic financing conditions and the deterioration of business and household climates played lesser ─though non negligible─ roles.

J.E.L. Classification: E27, E37, E65
Keywords: cyclical fluctuations, counterfactual simulations, financial crisis, Italian economy
Received: March 2011
Accepted: November 2011

Being Homeless: Evidence from Italy

M. Braga, L. Corno

Homelessness represents the most extreme form of poverty in industrialized countries and a critical consequence of economic crisis. The economic research on homelessness is almost non-existent because of the lack of reliable data. By interviewing homeless people in Milan and with a response rate of 62%, this paper presents and discusses the results of the first representative survey in Europe among the homeless. We find an overwhelming majority of divorced males in the central part of their life. Respondents indicate unemployment and breakdowns in family relationships as the main reasons for their status. Further, almost one third of the sample works, suggesting a possible reintegration of unemployed homeless in the labour market. Unconditional welfare assistance is correlated with labour market inactivity and longer homelessness spells.

J.E.L. Classification: J1, I32
Keywords: Homelessness, Original Survey, S-night approach
Received: December 2010
Accepted: June 2011

Technology, Human Capital and FDI: Firm-Level Evidence for Italy

V. Gattai

This paper makes an empirical assessment of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), by analyzing a large sample of Italian manufacturing enterprises. Firm-level data are derived from the 8th and 9th waves of the Capitalia survey, and they cover the period between 1998 and 2003. Consistently with the theory of multinational enterprises, evidence shows that firms endowed with superior technology and better human capital tend to operate abroad via FDI. These results are robust to different econometric specifications and alternative measures of technology and human capital.

J.E.L. Classification: F23, C25
Keywords: FDI, Italy, Capitalia
Received: January 2011
Accepted: May 2012

Local Effects of Manufacturing Emplyment Growth in Italy

G. de Blasio, C. Menon

For Italy’s case, we estimate the local labor variation – both in tradable and nontradable sectors – due to an exogenous shift in local employment in tradable sectors. The results show that the local impact of employment growth in the tradable sectors is zero. We highlight some possible explanations for these findings. We also discuss the role of our results for the assessment of location-based policies.

J.E.L. Classification: R11; O2
Keywords: Regional policy; Manufacturing; local employment growth; Italy; Local Labor Markets
Received: February 2011
Accepted: June 2011

Year 124 - Vol. 70 - N. 2 July 2011

Stock Market Reaction to the Global Financial Crisis: Testing for the Lehman Brother's Event

L. Becchetti, R. Ciciretti

We analyse with an event study approach the stock market reaction to Lehman Brothers' filing for chapter 11. Our inquiry on abnormal returns of about 2,700 stocks around the event date documents that RiskMetrics-KLD indexes capture factors affecting investors' reaction to the shock. We also find that investors rationally attribute more value to the information on each rating domain than to affiliation/non-affiliation to the FTSE KLD 400 Social Index. Investors seem to discover, after the event, that KLD ratings provide original information which is not captured by traditional financial rating indicators.

J.E.L. Classification: G14, G24, G01
Keywords: Global Financial Crisis, Event Study, Corporate Governance, Product Quality, Ratings
Received: February 2011
Accepted: June 2011

New Insights on the Size Distribution of Italian Firms by Geographical Area

P. Cirillo, P. Vagliasindi, G. Bruno, C. Bianchi

Using a large industrial panel, we show that the size distribution of Italian manufacturing firms can be well approximated by a two-parameter generalized Pareto distribution (GPD); the fitting is particularly good for medium-large companies. This evidence seems to hold using different proxies of size: number of employees, revenues, fixed assets, total costs and debts. The choice of different measures of size is justified by the desire of presenting robust results, but also by the idea that one single optimal measure of size probably does not exist, and it is thus better to combine different points of view. We believe that such an approach represents a clear novelty of our work. The presence of a GPD in the size distribution of Italian firms suggests interesting implications of industrial economics, as discussed in the paper. In more details, we find that, for the entire time window considered, the parameter ξ of the GPD is persistently in the interval [0.5,1], indicating fat tails - consistently with the so-called Pareto law of industrial dynamics, but also pointing out a certain stability in the shape of the size distribution of Italian firms. For what concerns growth rates, the Laplace distribution provides a good fit, ruling out Gibrat’s law of proportionate effects from the patterns of growth of Italian companies. In the paper we discuss the economic implications of such a finding.

J.E.L. Classification: C16, C46, O47
Received: February 2011
Accepted: September 2011

Infrequency of Purchase Individual Heterogeneity and Rational Addiction in Single Households' Estimates of Alcohol Consumption

P. Pierani, S. Tiezzi

A pseudo-panel of Italian single households is used to test for rational addiction in alcohol consumption. These monthly consumption data raise problems of measurement errors and unobservable heterogeneity. To deal with the zeros in the dependent variable we adopt a specification based on infrequency of purchase. GMM estimators are used to deal with errors in variables and unobserved heterogeneity. There is evidence that alcohol consumers are actually forward-looking. Past consumption is also significant in explaining current consumption thus detecting the addictive nature of alcohol. Discount rates, the strength of addiction, short and long run price and income elasticities are significant and in line with the theoretical predictions. These results and the inclusion of a number of demographic and geographic characters deliver valuable information for public policy purposes and suggest significant differences driven by individual heterogeneity.

J.E.L. Classification: C23, D12
Keywords: rational addiction; infrequency of purchase; GMM
Accepted: September 2011

The Effects of Equities on Team Performance for Winners and Losers in Nippon Professional Baseball: A Quantile Analysis

J. Wen-Jhan

The paper introduces indices to measure the concepts of internal and employee equity in social psychology. The panel data of the Nippon Professional Baseball League for the period 1996-2008 and quantile regression are employed to examine the relationships between inequities induced by salary dispersions and team performance. The findings support that payroll has a positive effect on team performance, and it is stronger for winners and losers than average teams. Moreover, salary inequality based on employee equity for hitters has a significantly positive effect on team performance. The implication for team managers is that tournament-like compensation is suitable for hitters.

J.E.L. Classification: J31, J33, J44
Keywords: Employee Equity; Internal Equity; Professional Baseball; Quantile Regression; Tournament Theory.
Received: March 2011
Accepted: September 2011

Year 124 - vol. 70 - N. 1 January 2011

Voting by Ballots and Feet in the Laboratory

A. Innocenti and C. Rapallini

This paper provides laboratory evidence on the efficiency-enhancing properties of the Tiebout model as a decentralized system of public goods provision. Tiebout (1956) shows that if a sufficient number of local communities exist to accommodate different types of preferences, individuals sort themselves in a way that provides an efficient allocation of public goods and taxes. Our experiment aims to disentangle the effect of voting participation from other factors and is composed of two treatments. In the non-participation treatment, local public good provision is chosen by only one subject, while other members of the community can only stay in or move to another community. In the participation treatment, all the community members have the right to vote as well as to move to another community and collective decisions are taken by majority rule. Our findings show that social welfare is greater in the participation than in the non-participation treatment. We conclude that voting with one‟s feet increases efficiency if all the community members vote and that the influence of voting participation on the allocation of local public goods should be taken into account to assess the viability of the Tiebout model.

J.E.L. Classification: C91, H41, C92, D23
Keywords: Tiebout model, local public goods, voting participation, federalism, experiment

The Public-Private Pay Gap: a Robust Quantile Approach

D. Depalo and R.Giordano

We investigate the public-private pay gap in Italy in the period 1998-2008. Under random sampling we estimate an average wage dierential in favour of public sector workers of about 14% for women and 4% for men, lower at the high tail of the wage distribution and in the Northern regions. The dierential increases when also unobservable motivations that may induce workers to prefer employment in the public sector are considered, in particular above the median of the distribution, therefore suggesting that extra-motives may play an important role overall at higher wage levels.

J.E.L. Classification: H50, J31, J45, J50
Keywords: public employment, wage dierentials, wage determination

Inequality of Educational Opportunity in Italy: How Fair is the "3+2" Reform

P. Brunori, V. Peragine and L. Serlenga

In this paper we propose a denition of fairness in education which is based on the theory of equality of opportunity developed in the last decades in the philosophical and economic literature (Roemer,1998; Fleurbaey, 2008), we derive opportunity inequality measures based on such conceptual framework, and we use these measures to evaluate the 1999 reform of the Italian university system (the so called \3+2" reform). Looking at 1995-2004 college graduates data our estimates show an improvement in the equality of opportunity in the access to university. However, the aggregated data available for the 2005-2008 suggest that such a positive eect may vanish in the medium run.

J.E.L. Classification: D31, D63, C14, I2
Keywords: Equality of opportunity, Higher education

Fiscal Rules and Window Dressing in Italian Municipalities

P. Balduzzi and V. Grembi

One of the measure of the effectiveness of fiscal rules is their level of compliance, especially when sub-national fiscal rules are considered. However, the compliance level can be a misleading proxy for the impact of the rules, given the possibilities that fiscal rules trigger window dressing and creative finance. We use evidence from the Italian municipalities budgets, to test the presence of creative accounting as the consequence of subnational fiscal rules, in a context in which the levels of compliance are generally very high but the status of local finance is very poor. A quasi experimental approach is allowed by the special regulation of the Italian Internal Stability Pact between 1999 and 2004.

J.E.L. Classification: H72, H75, H77
Keywords: Fiscal Rules, Municipalities, Local Finance, Difference in Difference, Italy

Reducing the Tax Wedge on Labour Income by Reforming Housing Taxation: Can This Reform Have a Political Majority?

S. Pellegrino and G. Turati

In this paper we study whether an IRPEF reform aimed at reducing the tax burden on labour income - via the enlargement of the tax base due to the inclusion of imputed rent for owner-occupied dwellings - can achieve a political majority. We use a micro-simulation model designed precisely to examine housing taxation in Italy, and compare the tax burden before and after the reform under three alternative scenarios, all designed in order to keep current revenues at a constant level. Our main result is that, in terms of all three scenarios, the share of the winners is consistent - between 46 and 48 percent - while the share of the losers is around one third of all taxpayers. The percentage of winners is further increased when considering households instead of individual taxpayers, at about 50 percent; however, the share of losers is also substantial - in this case about 40 percent. Overall, then, a political majority supporting the change is presumably obtainable. Finally, it can be seen that reducing the tax wedge on labour income while contemporaneously taxing more housing, would generate a redistribution towards younger generations.

J.E.L. Classification: H24, H31
Keywords: Personal Income Tax, Labour Income Taxation, Housing Taxation, Imputed Rent, Microsimulation Model

Year 123 - Vol. 69 - n.3 December 2010

The Private Returns to Tertiary Education in Italy and in Europe

P. Luongo, V. Peragine and L. Serlenga

In this paper we use the EU-SILC data 2005 to estimate the private rates of return to higher education in 22 European countries. By implementing a Heckman selection model and an instrumental variables estimator we study the effects of schooling on employment and wages and compare them across European countries. Our results show a great deal of heterogeneity in the rate-of-return estimates across countries. Although a clear grouping of countries does not emerges, we observe that the returns to tertiary education appear generally high for Eastern countries and low for Nordic countries whereas the Mediterranean and Continental European countries mostly exhibit an intermediate position.

J.E.L. Classification: I23, I24
Keywords: Higher Education, Education and Inequality
Accepted: July 2011

The Impact of the Bologna Process on the Graduate Labor Market: Demand Supply

G. Bosio and M. Leonardi

The Bologna process inspired the Italian 3+2 reform of the university system which constitutes a big increase in the supply of college graduates. This paper is a preliminary attempt to identify the e¤ects of the reform on (i) the relative probability (relative to non-graduates) of employment of college graduates in the age range 25–34; (ii) their quality of employment measured with the relative probability of being employed with a temporary contract; (iii) the college wage premium. Using administrative data to identify the gradual introduction of the reform in di¤erent universities, we …nd that the reform increases signi…cantly the relative employment of graduates except for women in the South where the rapid increase of female post-reform graduates has not been absorbed by the weak labour market. Finally we …nd that post-reform college graduates have a signi…cantly lower college premium with respect to high school graduates than pre-reform graduates.

J.E.L. Classification: I23, I28, J24
Keywords: university reforms, college attainment, college wage premium
Accepted: May 2011

Changes in the Expected Employment of Graduates after the "3+2" University Reform

A. De Paoli

This paper characterizes variations in the expected employment of university graduates after a reform of the Italian University system that caused an increase in tertiary education attendance and a reduction in dropout rates, modifying the length of degrees and course contents. In a survey of employers’ hiring intentions which elicits information about occupations open to university graduates, it finds that employers mainly substituted less educated workers with more educated ones within clerical and technical occupations.

J.E.L. Classification: J23, J24
Keywords: University reform, Labor Demand, Occupation
Accepted: July 2011

What makes a good candidate? The Preferences of HR Managers about new Graduate Job-Seekers

C. Villosio

Information regarding skills that foster employability of University graduates is of particular interest in Italy, where youth unemployment remains high in spite of an increase of tertiary education enrolment. This paper analyzes a survey of human resource managers’ preferred job-seeker characteristics. A conjoint analysis of hypothetical new-graduated job seeker ratings indicates that English language skills, final degree grade, and work experience are the most important attributes of candidate profiles. Age reduces the attractiveness of a candidate, while the difference in preferences between laurea triennale and laurea magistrale is so small as to be offset by two years of work experience. Interactions between firm and vacancy characteristics indicate that gender preferences depend on features of specific jobs.

J.E.L. Classification: I23, M51
Keywords: Tertiary education, recruitment, job search, HR managers

Structural Change and Human Capital in the Italian Productive System

R. Torrini and F. Schivardi

We study the role of human capital in the restructuring process of the Italian economy. Italy displays a large and persistent gap in the share of college graduates in the population (12% in 2007) with respect to the rest of Europe (24%). The introduction of the 3+2 reform has significantly increased the supply of college graduates, mostly absorbed by the private sector. Firm level evidence indicates that the growth in graduate employment is due almost entirely to a “within” firm component rather than to a shift of the productive structure from low to high human capital activities. We also find that a higher share of college graduates at the local level is positively associated with restructuring activities and with productivity growth. This indicates that increasing the educational attainments of the workforce is key to overcome the phase of stagnating productivity growth that characterizes the Italian economy since the mid nineties.

J.E.L. Classification: J24
Keywords: human capital, tertiary education, firm restructuring, growth

Year 123 - Vol. 69 - N.2 July 2010

North-South Imbalances: Policies in a Spatial Equilibrium

Antonio Accetturo, Alberto Dalmazzo and Guido De Blasio

The paper introduces mobility costs and non-competitive wage setting into the spatial equilibrium model to analyse regional differences in rents, wages, unemployment and populations. It also considers the impact of policies, such as transfer payments to households and subsidies to firms, and illustrates a numerical exercise to discuss their welfare implications.

J.E.L. Classification: R12, R13, J6
Keywords: Spatial general equilibrium, Public Intervention, Social Welfare Function
Received: September 2010
Accepted: May 2011

Administrative Burdens on Business Activities: Regional Disparities

Magda Bianco and Francesco Bripi

A significant strand of the recent literature endorses the thesis that “excessive” regulation (or a heavy administrative burden on firms) damages competition and growth. The Italian system has a poor ranking both in anti-competitive regulations (see the OECD product market regulations indicators) and in bureaucratic burdens (80th in “Doing Business” in 2011), despite improvements in the former over the last 10 years. But Italy’s position is the result of a combination of possibly very different contexts, so it is useful to evaluate the differences between Italian regions with reference to some indicators that are likely to take different values (i.e. those that do not depend simply on national laws).

The aim of this paper is to measure this variance with reference to the costs and the length of the various administrative procedures. Some suggestions on the potential impact of these inefficiencies and possible causes of the differences are discussed.

J.E.L. Classification: K2, L51
Keywords: Administrative burden, bureaucracy, regulation
Received: December 2010
Accepted: April 2011

Value-Added Measures in Italian High Schools

Piero Cipollone, Pasqualino Montanaro, Paolo Sestito

Students’ competencies are influenced by a host of factors, including individual school’s effectiveness. Measuring this contribution is extremely difficult. One way of circumventing the problem is by focusing on changes in students’ competencies, i.e. value-added measures. Using the results of an INVALSI survey on high schools, this paper implements these measures for Italy, in an attempt to identify a general pattern of value-added among schools. Purging the sample from measurement errors – which require the exclusion of schools with too few students tested – and taking into account the selection bias implied by the non-compulsory nature of the survey, we find that the positive gap in favour of general programs (licei) when looking at the level of competencies tends to vanish (in math and science) when focusing on value-added measures. By contrast, in the same subjects schools located in the Southern regions are characterized not only by a lower starting level of competencies but also by a lower value-added. For math at least, there is also a general tendency for teachers’ turnover to have a negative effect on students’ improvements.

J.E.L. Classification: I20, I21
Keywords: Education, geographical divides, value-added
Received: October 2010
Accepted: December 2010

Will We Treat Future Generations Fairly? Italian Fiscal Policy through the Prism of Generational Accounting

Pietro Rizza and Pietro Tommasino

We provide an estimate of the burden that current policies impose to present and future generations of Italians. Based on our computations, we argue that current fiscal policies are neither financially sustainable nor fair to future generations, due to the generous treatment awarded to past and currently-living cohorts. We discuss some policy options which could potentially restore sustainability while at the same time improving intergenerational justice. Our analysis is also meant to contribute to an assessment of Italian fiscal policy in the last decade. In particular, confronting our findings with those of previous studies, we argue that in the last ten years neither sustainability nor fairness have improved.

J.E.L. Classification: H22, H55, H63, H68
Keywords: Fiscal Policy, Intergenerational Fairness, Sustainability
Received: January 2010
Accepted: June 2010

International Crisis and the Italian Productive System: An Analysis of Firm-Level Data

M. Bugamelli, R. Cristadoro, G. Zevi

This paper examines the impact on the Italian productive system of the recent and severe (the deepest since the Second World War) economic and financial crisis. The picture offered by aggregate national accounts data is supplemented with information at firm level drawn from the Bank of Italy’s annual Survey of Industrial and Service Firms (also known as the Invind Survey) and with the accounts of in-depth interviews that a group of Bank of Italy economists conducted between the end of April and the first ten days of May 2009 with some 70 top managers and executives of Italian firms. The main motivation of this analysis lies in the conviction that the recovery of the Italian economy will depend, more than in the past, on its ability to respond to the heightened competitive pressure in a flexible and innovative way. The rich and heterogeneous set of data and observations collected in this work make it possible, by distinguishing firms by size, sector and propensity to export, to study a wide variety of questions that help sketching a comprehensive picture of the effects of the crisis on the Italian productive system, a crisis that caught it in a phase of deep-going albeit partial restructuring that was beginning to bear fruit. While all firms were heavily hit by the recession those that in the past started to innovate proved more resilient and their experience might point to the right strategy to successfully ri-emerge from the current critical situation.

J.E.L. Classification: C21, E22, E23, L20
Keywords: Cyclical fluctuations, recessions, investment, business strategy, microdata, restructuring
Received: March 2010
Accepted: December 2010

Year 123 - Vol. 69 - N.1 April 2010

Immigrant Earnings in the Italian Labour Market

Antonio Accetturo and Luigi Infante

The aim of this paper is to assess the relation between individual skills and labour market performance by immigrants residing in Lombardy. We exploit a rich dataset collected by the NGO ISMU, which includes information on individual characteristics and the legal status of each immigrant. Our results show that returns on schooling are positive, although much lower than the one estimated for native Italians. This result is robust to a number of specifications and tests; in particular, it is not influenced by a possible self-selection in the labour supply or by signalling problems to local employers.

J.E.L. Classification: J31, O15
Keywords: Immigration, return on schooling, return on experience.
Received: October 2008
Accepted: September 2009

Dynamic Macroeconomic Effects of Public Capital: Evidence from Regional Italian Data

Valter Di Giacinto, Giacinto Micucci and Pasqualino Montanaro

Based on a VAR model, which allows to take into account direct and indirect links between the variables, this paper shows that public capital positively and persistently affects GDP in Italy and in its main geographic areas. This result is also attributable to a strong stimulus exerted on private capital (crowding in). A higher elasticity of GDP to public capital is estimated for the South, whereas marginal productivity turns out to be higher in the Centre-North. This suggests that public capital has a lower economic return in the South, bearing out the existence of a potential conflict between equity and efficiency goals.

J.E.L. Classification: C32, H54, R53.
Keywords: Public capital; Crowding in effects; Italian regional divides; VAR models.
Received: June 2009
Accepted: December 2009

Implementing a Guaranteed Minimum Income in Italy: An Empirical Analysis of Costs and Political Feasibility

Paola Monti and Michele Pellizzari

In this paper we analyse a hypothetical welfare reform that would introduce a Guaranteed Minimum Income (GMI) in Italy, the only country of the pre-enlargement EU-15 where a programme of this type does not exist. First we compute the overall cost of a GMI under different assumptions about its generosity and adjustments for differences in the cost of living. Then, we discuss alternative options to finance the additional resources needed to implement the programme. Finally, we present an analysis of winners and losers from such reform and we discuss the type of preferences for redistribution that would be required to obtain political support for a GMI from the majority of the voting population.

J.E.L. Classification: H53.
Keywords: guaranteed minimum income, poverty, welfare state, social expenditure, preferences, redistribution, Italy
Received: May 2009
Accepted: March 2010

Year 122 - Vol.68 - N.3 September 2009

The Italian Productivity Decline: Evidence from Regional Data

Maurizio Conti

In this paper the evolution of labour productivity and TFP is anlysed for the Italian regions at the sector level over the period 1980-2004 using growth accounting techniques. The results sugges that the decline in productivity after 1995 has been widespread across sectors and regions, although in southern Italy the decline has been weaker; in turn, TFP growth seems to have been the major responsible for both the decline of labour productivity growth and for explaining regional labour productivity growth differentials. The estimation of a TFP growth model inspired to be the Neo-Shumpeterian Growth Theory suggests that a key role in driving the different pattern in TFP growth between northern and southern regions may have been played by catching up processes, as regions that were far away from the technological frontier, mainly located in the south, have displayed faster TFP growth. The econometric results also suggest that spillover effects, R&D and, to a lesser extent, human capital may have been important drivers of the rate of innovation over the sample period. 

J.E.L. Classification: O47, O32, D24, R11, R12
Keywords: Productivity Growth, Convergence, Innovation, R&D, Regional Growth, Total Factor Productivity
Received: December 2008
Accepted: August 2009

On the Impact of Productive Efficiency and Quality of a Regulated Local Public Utility Upon Final Goods Prices and Consumer's Welfare

Alessandro Petretto

In this paper, we analyse the process by which the decisions of a regulated local public utility, in terms of productive efficiency and quality of the service provided, impact on prices of final consumption goods, supplied in a oligopolistic market operating in the sae geographic area. The regulation rules we consider are twofold: a Price-Cap mechanism and a Minimum Quality Standard constraing, both largely applied in the practice of public utilities regulation in industrialised countries. In particular in Italy these rules are applied in water and waste collection services. We obtain some formula for these effects which can be quantified by estimating firms' conditional input demand function of the public service and firms' inverse demand function for this public good, non-rival, component. Finally, we draw the effects of productive efficiency and quality on consumer welfare via changes on tariffs, external effects and final goods prices.

J.E.L. Classification: L51, D11, D21
Keywords: Regulation, X-Efficiency, Oligopoly, Consumer Welfare
Received: January 2009
Accepted: July 2009

Government Bond Yield Spreads: A Survey

Riccardo Lo Conte

I review the literature concerning the determinants of yield spreads on government bonds. Due to the large attention received in the literature, I will refer to European and emerging markets. Europe has undergone significant institutional changes over the last decade and the corresponding market has become increasingly integrated. The value of bonds issued by emerging economies has reached high levels in the 1990's with important implications for the operation of international capital markets. This survey provides an extensive overview of the most recent explanations for the observed yield spreads on sovereign bonds.

J.E.L. Classification: G15, G12, E43, E44
Keywords: Yield Spreads, Government Bonds, EMU, Emerging Markets
Received: March 2009
Accepted: July 2009

Year 122 - Vol.68 - N.2 July 2009


T. Jappelli and A. Sembenelli

The US Wage Phillips Curve Over Different Time Horizons

M. Gallegati, M. Gallegati, J.B. Ramsey, W. Semmler

In this paper we examine the features of the US wage Phillips curve over different time horizons analyzing the original Phillips’ specification on a scale-by-scale basis with data transformed by wavelet and band-pass filtering methods. Our results provide compelling evidence that the wage Phillips curve relationship is frequency-dependent, i.e. it varies across frequency bands. In particular, estimation results over frequency bands beyond the business cycle horizon, where the variables have large coefficient values, are very highly significant and explain a substantial proportion of the total variation of nominal wage changes, suggest that the medium-run may be a correct time frame for the wage Philips’ relationship.

J.E.L. Classification: C63, E24, E31.
Keywords: Wage Phillips curve; Wavelets; Band-pass filter; Phase shift
Received: February 2009
Accepted: July 2009

Joining Panel Data with Cross-Sections for Efficiency Gains

R.L. Bruno and M. Stampini

Under the classical linear regression model assumptions, fixed effects estimates properly control for time-invariant unobservables and produce unbiased estimates. However, they often rely on limited data variability and present high standard errors. We present an innovative methodology that complements longitudinal data with other sources of unpaired data to increase estimation efficiency. The methodology assumes that the are no time varying unobservables correlated with the observables and with the fixed effects. We apply the methodology to three sets of Leaving Standard Measurement Study data from Nicaragua and estimate a household consumption model. We find that, if the correlation between observables and unobservables does not vary across time, our methodology has the potential to lead to unbiased and more efficient estimates.

J.E.L. Classification: C33, C42, I38.
Keywords: Estimation Efficiency, Panel Data, Cross sections, Fixed Effects,
Received: February 2009
Accepted: July 2009

Living Standards and Fertility in Indonesia: A Bayesian Analysis

A. Mattei, F. Mealli, S. Pudney

We investigate the relationship between living standards and fertility, using a three-wave panel dataset from Indonesia to provide information on women’s fertility histories and the levels of consumption expenditure in the households to which they belong. We adopt a Bayesian approach to estimation and exploit the dynamically recursive structure implied by gestation lags to identify causal effects of living standards on fertility and vice versa.

J.E.L. Classification: D31, J13, P36
Keywords: Indonesia; fertility; living standards; Bayesian
Received: February 2009
Accepted: July 2009

The Effect of EPL on the Conversion Rate of Temporary Contracts into Permanent Contracts: Evidence from Italy

E. Grassi

This paper analyzes the effect of Employment Protection Legislation (EPL) on the conversion rate of temporary contracts into permanent ones in the same firm. Once EPL is enforced, two effects might arise: employers could tend to replace their permanent workforce with short-term employment because of the lower expected value of a filled job, but firms might also prefer to stabilize part of their temporary workforce both to reduce the uncertainty of costly job-breakups and to increase the matching surplus. Which of these two effects is dominant is ultimately an empirical question, and we exploit a natural experiment yielded by the Italian 1990 reform which introduced unjust dismissal costs for small businesses to identify the effect of EPL on the conversion rate of working and training contracts (Contratti di formazione e lavoro - CFL) into permanent ones in the same firm. We find that more stringent EPL acts positively on the conversion rates, and that the estimates remain similar for different robustness checks.

J.E.L. Classification: J41; J63; J65
Keywords: Dismissal costs, temporary contracts, difference-in-differences.
Received: February 2009
Accepted: June 2009

The Determinants of Labour Market Transitions

E. Fabrizi and C. Mussida

This paper focuses on changes in the Italian labour market over the decade 1993-2003. We estimate both aggregate transition matrices and micro-level multinomial logistic regression models to analyse flows between labour market states and their determinants. We aim to assess whether labour market intervention and regulation introduced in the nineties acted in the expected direction, that is helping disadvantaged categories such as women and the young. We find that, at least as far as our analysis goes, this has not been the case.

J.E.L. Classification: C25, C40, J60
Keywords: Unemployment, Labour Mobility, Multinomial Logit Specifications
Received: February 2009
Accepted: June 2009

Year 122 - Vol.68 - N.1 April 2009

Family Income and Students' Mobility

P. Ordine and C. Lupi

This paper investigates the reasons that determine students’ mobility in Italy and tries to explain why in the presence of quality differentials among universities the majority of students choose to remain in their regions of origin. We find that low mobility is related to family income and other financial and background characteristics. Low mobility in turn implies the existence of little competition among universities, and hence little incentive for improvement in either teaching or research. A crucial issue is therefore to evaluate if and how the government may affect this process and improve the supply of higher education quality and the degree of competition among academic institutions.

J.E.L. Classification: 121, 128
Keywords: Higher education, University choice, Liquidity constraints
Received: June 2008
Accepted: September 2008

What's Behind "Inflation Perceptions"? A Survey-Based Analysis of Italian Consumers

P. Del Giovane, S. Fabiani and R. Sabbatini

This study investigates inflation perceptions, and their relationship with factors likely to affect them, through a survey of a representative sample of Italian consumers. The results show that reported inflation is, on average, much higher than measured by official statistics. Inflation perceptions are higher for women, the unemployed and less educated individuals, as well as for consumers with some forms of financial distress. A very low knowledge of the inflation concept and related statistics and an inaccurate memory of past prices turn out to play a significant role in explaining the highest class of perceptions. These results suggest that when consumers express their opinions on what they report as “inflation”, they are incorporating a complex combination of forces that go well beyond the phenomena measured by official inflation statistics.

J.E.L. Classification: D12, E31
Keywords: inflation, consumers, perceptions, euro
Received: January 2008
Accepted: March 2009

Quantitative Inflation Perceptions and Expectations of Italian Consumers

M. Malgarini

Since February 2003 ISAE collects quantitative inflation opinions, within its monthly survey on Italian consumers. Data confirms the severe overestimation of inflation already emerging from a companion study on Italian consumers (Del Giovane, Fabiani and Sabbatini, 2009); moreover, quantitative replies are in line with more traditional qualitative evaluations derived from the same survey, indicating that overestimation is not a random outcome resulting from casual answers. A first explanation calls for inadequate knowledge of inflation statistics: however, scarce information does not explain per se overestimation. Indeed, overestimation varies across personal characteristics and it is strongly correlated with assessments on economic conditions, those being more optimistic generally showing lower inflation opinions. It is possible that with a scarce statistical knowledge the consumers attribute to high inflation an “economic distress” mainly determined by slow growth of disposable income and psychological factors linked to socio-economic circumstances.

J.E.L. Classification: D12,D8,E31
Keywords: inflation expectations, survey data
Received: January 2008
Accepted: March 2009

Informational Cascades in Financial Economics: A Review

M.G. Romano

The paper surveys and appraises the recent research on informational cascades and herding behaviour in capital markets. Standard models of informational cascades hardly apply to capital markets where all publicly available information is reflected in the price and investment decisions are continuous. The paper briefly describes the situations in which an informational cascade may take place also in the context of financial markets and offers a critical review of both empirical evidence and experimental results.

J.E.L. Classification: D82,D83,G10
Keywords: informational cascades, transaction costs, financial markets
Received: September 2007
Accepted: September 2008


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