Is it possible to experiment with a universal income?

By Guillaume Allègre, @g_allegre

In a blog entitled “Revenu universel, l’impossible expérimentation” [Universal income, the impossible experiment], I underlined the limits of current and future experiments with a universal income[1]: samples that are too small and unrepresentative; the limits intrinsic to a lottery (absence of balancing effects on the labor market; an absence of “peer effects”[2]). Continue reading “Is it possible to experiment with a universal income?”

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France’s RSA income support: 35% lack of take-up?

By Guillaume Allègre, @g_allegre

The lack of take-up of France’s RSA income supplement benefit is often invoked as an argument for reforming the system for assisting people on low incomes (such as a Universal Income or establishment of a single social benefit that would merge the RSA, the in-work Prime d’activité benefit and Housing benefit). According to the CNAF, the lack of take-up of the base RSA benefit (RSA-socle) is 36% (CNAF, 2012). To arrive at this estimate, the CNAF relies on a quantitative survey conducted over the phone with 15,000 households selected from their tax returns. Continue reading “France’s RSA income support: 35% lack of take-up?”

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Trends in labour force participation rates in Europe during the Great Recession: The role of demographics and job polarization

By Guillaume Allègre and Gregory Verdugo

In Europe as in the United States, employment fell considerably during the Great Recession. Moreover, over the last few decades, the labour markets in both regions have been reshaped by the forces of automation and globalization. However, the response of labour force participation to these changes has varied from country to country. One of the most significant developments in the US labour market over the past decade has been the decline in labour force participation. Between 2004 and 2013, the labour force participation rate for the group aged 25 to 54 fell by 2.6 percentage points (from 83.8% to 81.1%), a decline that has persisted well beyond the end of the Great Recession. In the EU-15, on the other hand, the participation rate for this age group increased by 2 percentage points during the same period (from 83.7% to 85.6%), despite low growth and the persistence of high levels of unemployment. Continue reading “Trends in labour force participation rates in Europe during the Great Recession: The role of demographics and job polarization”

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Inequality in Europe

By Guillaume Allègre

In the preamble to the Treaty establishing the European Economic Community, the Heads of State and Government declare that they are “[r]esolved to ensure the economic and social progress of their countries by common action to eliminate the barriers which divide Europe”. Article 117 adds that “Member States agree upon the need to promote improved working conditions and an improved standard of living for workers, so as to make possible their harmonisation while the improvement is being maintained”. Sixty years after the Treaty of Rome, what is the state of economic and social inequality in Europe? How did this change during the crisis? Continue reading “Inequality in Europe”

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What is a Left economics? (Or, why economists disagree)

By Guillaume Allègre

What is a Left economics? In an opinion column published in the newspaper Libération on 9 June 2015 (“la concurrence peut servir la gauche” [“Competition can serve the Left”], Jean Tirole and Etienne Wasmer reply that to be progressive means “sharing a set of values and distributional objectives”. But, as Brigitte Dormont, Marc Fleurbaey and Alain Trannoy meaningfully remark (“Non, le marché n’est pas l’ennemi de la gauche” [“No, the market is not the enemy of the Left”]) in Libération on 11 June 2015, reducing progressive politics to the redistribution of income leaves something out. Continue reading “What is a Left economics? (Or, why economists disagree)”

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Does housing wealth contribute to wealth inequality?

par Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

In a response to Capital in the twenty-first century, Odran Bonnet, Pierre-Henri Bono, Guillaume Chapelle and Etienne Wasmer (2014) attempt to show that the conclusion of the book in terms of the explosion of wealth inequality is not plausible. They point out what they see as an inconsistency in the thesis: according to the authors, the capital accumulation model used by Piketty is a model of accumulation of productive capital, which is inconsistent with the choice to use housing market prices to measure housing capital. To correctly measure housing capital, one should use rent and not housing prices. By doing this, the authors conclude that capital/income ratios have remained stable in France, Britain, the United States and Canada, which contradicts the thesis of Piketty. Continue reading “Does housing wealth contribute to wealth inequality?”

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On debate in economics

By Guillaume Allègre, @g_allegre

To Bernard Maris, who nurtured debate on economics with his talent and his tolerance

You have reasons for not liking economists. This is what Marion Fourcade, Etienne Ollion and Yann Algan explain in an excellent study, The Superiority of Economists, with the main conclusions summarized in a blog post: ”You don’t like economists? You’re not alone!” Although the study mainly concerns the United States, it is also applicable to Europe. It presents an unflattering portrait of economists, and in particular elite economists: they have a strong sense of superiority, are isolated from other social sciences, and are comforted by their dominant position of economics imperialism. The study also shows that the discipline is very hierarchical (some economics departments are “prestigious” and others less so) and that internal controls are very strong (in particular because the vision of what constitutes quality research is much more homogeneous than in other disciplines). This has an impact on publications and on the hiring of economists: only those who have sought and/or been able to accommodate this “elitist” model will publish in the infamous top field journals, which will lead to them being recruited by the “prestigious” departments. Continue reading “On debate in economics”

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Doesn’t real estate capital really contribute to inequality?

By Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

In a response to Capital in the twenty-first century, Odran Bonnet, Pierre-Henri Bono, Guillaume Chapelle and Etienne Wasmer (2014) attempt to show that the book’s conclusions regarding an explosion in wealth inequality are “not plausible”. The authors point out an inconsistency in Thomas Piketty’s thesis: the model of capital accumulation is implicitly a model of the accumulation of productive capital, which is inconsistent with the decision to include real estate capital at its market value in measuring capital. If valued correctly, the ratio of capital to income would have remained stable in France, Britain, the United States and Canada, which contradicts the thesis of Piketty’s work. Continue reading “Doesn’t real estate capital really contribute to inequality?”

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The critique of capital in the 21st century: in search of the macroeconomic foundations of inequalities

By Guillaume Allègre and Xavier Timbeau

In his book Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty offers a critical analysis of the dynamics of capital accumulation. The book is at the level of its very high ambitions: it addresses a crucial issue, it draws on a very substantial statistical effort that sheds new light on the dynamics of distribution, and it advances public policy proposals. Thomas Piketty combines the approach of the great classical authors (Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Walras) with impressive empirical work that was inaccessible to his illustrious predecessors. Continue reading “The critique of capital in the 21st century: in search of the macroeconomic foundations of inequalities”

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How many euros per job created?

By Guillaume Allègre, @g_allegre

The Responsibility Pact, the CICE competitiveness tax break, reductions on social security charges … is it possible to reduce the evaluation of such measures to the cost in euros of each job created? While such an assessment is obviously important, the final figure is often subject to misinterpretation or misuse in the public debate, sometimes in perfectly good faith. For some commentators, a very high cost per job created, generally higher than the average real cost of a public (or private) job, represents a waste of public money that would be better used elsewhere, for nurseries, education or the national police. Continue reading “How many euros per job created?”

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