Research Seminar

Research Seminar & RTG Day

Summer 2021

The research seminar invites external researchers on a regular basis and is open to the public. It is part of the RTG day and takes place Tuesdays from 16:15 to 17:30 during the summer term 2021.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus we are planning to provide a virtual seminar. Further information will be released on this website. If you would like to receive invitations to our seminar please send a mail to

20 April 2021

internal seminar

27 April 2021

Wen-Tai Hsu (Singapore Management University)

Innovation, Growth, and Dynamic Gains from Trade

How large are the welfare gains from trade? Would such gains be significantly amplified in the long run when productivity is endogenously enhanced? We address these questions by focusing on the dynamic effect of trade, in particular, how trade affects the incentives for technological advancement. We construct an innovation-based endogenous-growth model of North-South trade. There are two types of innovation: one by the North to upgrade the general-purpose technology (GPT) and another by both countries to advance entrepreneurial knowledge for producing differentiated products. We first clarify the mechanism using a two-country economy and show that the North-South trade structure is instrumental to the growth mechanism. We then develop and calibrate a multi-country quantitative model to evaluate welfare gains from trade. We find substantial gains from trade, around 20% on average, with the dynamic gains account for around 80%. We also find that the dynamic gains are larger when trade costs are higher. 

04 May 2021

Christian Volpe Martincus (Inter-American Development Bank)

Trade Promotion and the Indirect Effects of Exporting

It is already well-known that exporting firms tend to be larger and more productive than their non-exporting domestic peers. The extent to which the former and the latter are actually linked with each other and the implications of these linkages are far lesser known. In this paper, we show that firms that become exporters favor an expansion of their local suppliers in terms of sales, number of employees, and sales per employee. We use a unique dataset that combines data on domestic firm-to-firm transactions and firm-level characteristics, exports, and trade promotion assistance status. In order to accurately identify these indirect effects, we exploit the fact that trade promotion support is associated with a significant increase in the probability that a domestic firm starts exporting but can be considered otherwise unrelated with suppliers’ performance. 

11 May 2021

Karen Helene Ulltveit-Moe (University of Oslo)

Trade From Space: Shipping Networks and The Global Implications of Local Shocks

This paper examines the structure of the shipping network and its implications on global trade and welfare. Using novel data on the movements of container ships, we calculate optimal travel routes. We then estimate the impact of a shock to the network on global trade by analyzing the effect of the 2016 Panama Canal Expansion. Trade between country pairs using the canal increased by 10% after the expansion. While the building costs were borne by Panama alone, a model-based quantification analysis shows that the welfare gains were shared by many countries, due to the network structure of shipping.

18 May 2021

Maria Petrova (Pompeu Fabra University)

25 May 2021

internal seminar

15 June 2021

internal seminar

22 June 2021

Hanna Hottenrott (Technische Universität München)

Location-based Accessibility and Innovation Performance

While the importance of local characteristics for innovation activities has been shown in prior research, it remains largely unknown to which extent better accessibilities facilitate innovation. This study builds on data from a country-wide transport model to derive travel times and accessibilities at the level of so called “Travel Analysis Zones” for different modes of transport and using different approaches for modeling congestion. We employ these accessibilities to investigate their role for local innovation activities. Besides geographical information drawn from patent data, which is traditionally employed as indicator of inventive efforts, this project makes use of website texts to generate novel innovation indicators based on natural language processing techniques. The results suggest there is both more inventive and more innovative activities in regions with better accessibility. Yet, the web-based indicators appear to be better suited than patent indicators to capture innovation activities in cities reversing previous findings that suggested that innovation rates decline in highly dense locations. The results from this study have implications for research on the geography of innovation and the development of measures for non-technological innovation.

29 June 2021

Camille Hémet (École Normale Supérieure & Paris School of Economics)

Public Housing, Income Segregation, and Crime: Evidence from an Urban Renewal Program

Residential segregation matters as it may lead to a socially inefficient equilibrium because of externalities. Crime is one of the main outcomes that has been shown to be strongly affected by peer and network effects. At the city level, a decrease in residential social segregation might lead to simple displacement effects with no net effect on crime, or to a decrease in crime due to peer and network effects. This paper studies the effects of a common national urban renewal program aiming at decreasing social segregation at the city level. An important feature of this program consists in demolishing deprived public housing buildings in the poorest neighborhoods to rebuild new ones on site as well as off site in other neighborhoods in the city. The other main feature of this program is to renew the remaining housing stock and public spaces in the targeted neighborhoods. The intensity of this program as well as the number of affected cities allow us to study the context in which such a desegregation policy leads to a net decrease in crime. To analyze the effects of this program, we use very geographically precise income tax data as well as crime data at the city level. Our identification strategy relies on variations in the year the policy started in each city and on the existence of credibly untreated cities. We first show that the policy led to an overall decrease in residential income segregation in treated cities, and that this effect is strengthened when the predicted intensity of the demolitions increases. We are now analyzing the effects on crime depending on the initial level of public housing segregation in the city. 

06 July 2021

Eve Colson-Shira (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

13 July 2021


20 July 2021

internal seminar

Research Seminar & RTG Day

Winter 2020/2021

The research seminar invites external researchers on a regular basis and is open to the public. It is part of the RTG day and takes place Tuesdays from 16:15 to 17:30 during the winter term 2020/2021.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus we are planning to provide a virtual seminar. Further information will be released on this website. If you would like to receive invitations to our seminar please send a mail to

27 October 2020

Maximilian Todtenhaupt (NHH Norwegian School of Economics)

International Taxation and Productivity Effects of M&As

We investigate how changes in firm productivity after M&As are affected by differences in profit taxation between the target and the acquirer. We argue that tax differentials distort the efficient allocation of productive factors following an M&A and thus inhibit the realization of productivity improvements. Using firm-level data on inputs and outputs of production as well as on corporate M&As, we show that the absolute tax differential between the locations of two merging firms reduces the subsequent total factor productivity gain. This effect is less pronounced when firms can use international profit shifting to attenuate effective differences in taxation.

3 November 2020

Alessandro Sforza (University of Bologna)

Globalization in time of COVID-19

The economic effects of a pandemic crucially depend on the extent to which countries are connected in global production networks. In this paper we incorporate production barriers induced by the COVID-19 shock into a Ricardian model with sectoral linkages, trade in intermediate goods and sectoral heterogeneity in production. We use the model to quantify the welfare effect of the disruption in production that started in China and quickly spread across the world. We find that the COVID-19 shock has a considerable impact on most economies in the world, implying an average 12.9% drop in GDP across countries. Moreover, we show that global production linkages have a clear role in explaining the observed magnitudes. Finally, we show that the economic effects of the COVID-19 shock would have been marginally worse in a closer economy, with an average drop of GDP of 13% across countries. Our results contribute to the recent debate on the renationalization of global production. We show that renationalization would not help countries mitigate the impact of global pandemic shocks, and would itself imply enormous GDP losses.

10 November 2020

internal seminar

17 November 2020

Elisabet Viladecans (Universitat de Barcelona)

The political economy of coastal destruction 

We study the role of inter-governmental cooperation in the preservation of coastal land from development in Spain. Keeping coastal land undeveloped may provide benefits (e.g., preservation of open space) or costs (e.g., foregone jobs) to both residents and non-residents in the political jurisdiction. Therefore, local governments deciding in isolation –and not accounting for the welfare of non-residents– may not choose the right amount of development. We rely on a close-elections Regression Discontinuity Design to investigate how political alignment among neighboring municipalities –which may enhance the incentives to cooperate, and so to account for the welfare of non-residents– affects development close to shore. We find that municipalities where the party ruling a majority of municipalities in a neighboring area barely won the local election develop less land than municipalities where the same party barely lost, a result suggesting that lack of cooperation leads to over-development.

24 November 2020

Joan Monras (Pompeu Fabra)

Immigration and Spatial Equilibrium: The Role of Expenditures in the Country of Origin

We show that immigrants in the US concentrate in expensive cities, the earnings gap between natives and immigrants is larger in these cities, and these patterns are stronger when prices in the country of origin are lower. To rationalize this empirical evidence, we propose a quantitative spatial equilibrium model in which immigrants spend a fraction of their income in their countries of origin. Our model serves two purposes. First, to develop a new instrument for immigrant shocks that we use to test the model’s predictions on native internal relocation responses. Second, to evaluate the consequences of immigration for aggregate productivity.

1 December 2020

Krisztina Kis-Katos (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen)

Palm Oil and the Politics of Deforestation in Indonesia

This paper studies the interactions between political and economic incentives to foster forest conversion in Indonesian districts. Using a district–level panel data set from 2001 to 2016, we analyze variation in remotely sensed forest loss and forest fires as well as measures of land use licensing. We link these outcomes to economic incentives to expand oil palm cultivation areas as well as political incentives arising before idiosyncratically–timed local mayoral elections. Empirical results document substantial increases in deforestation and forest fires in the year prior to local elections. Additionally, oil palm plays a crucial role in driving deforestation dynamics. Variations in global market prices of palm oil are closely linked to deforestation in areas which are geo-climatically best suited for growing oil palm and they amplify the importance of the political cycle. We thus find clear evidence for economic and political incentives reinforcing each other as drivers of forest loss and land conversion for oil palm cultivation.

15 December 2020

Yanos Zylberberg (University of Bristol)

Migrants and Firms: Evidence from China

How does rural-urban migration shape urban production in developing countries? We use longitudinal data on Chinese manufacturing firms between 2000 and 2006, and exploit exogenous variation in rural-urban migration induced by agricultural price shocks for identification. We find that, when immigration increases, manufacturing production becomes more labor-intensive and productivity declines. This adjustment reflects both directed technological change, with firms moving away from capital-intensive technologies and new production methods, and a shift towards final products that use low-skilled labor more intensively.

22 December

internal seminar

12 January 2021

Martina Kirchberger (Trinity College Dublin)

Perpetual Motion: Human Mobility and Spatial Frictions in Three African Countries

Frictions affecting human mobility have been identified as important potential sources of the spatial gaps in wages and living standards that characterize many low-income countries.  However, little direct data has been available to characterize high-frequency mobility. We use a novel data source that provides highly detailed location data on more than one million devices across three large African countries for an entire year. This allows us to examine high-frequency mobility patterns for a subset of high-quality observations for whom we can determine home locations confidently. We link our users with spatial data on population density and nationally representative micro-survey data to characterize this non-random sample. We then propose a number of metrics to characterize mobility related to frequency, spatial extent and densities visited. We find that users are remarkably mobile in terms of the fraction of days seen at least 10km away from their home location, and the average distance for non-home location pings. Individuals residing in low-density locations are well linked to high-density locations and a significant fraction of visitors to the largest cities comes from non-urban areas. Finally, the observed mobility patterns suggest large agglomeration effects: a doubling of population is associated with a doubling of city fixed effects. Our estimates are in line with previous gravity estimates in the literature across a wide range of spatial and temporal scales.


19 January 2021

Sam Asher (Johns Hopkins University)

Residential Segregation and Unequal Access to Public Goods in India

Economists have long studied the role of location in shaping the economic opportunities available to households and firms. There is a particularly rich literature in rich countries, particularly the US, on how segregation along ethnic lines affects access to public goods, jobs, and other economic outcomes. Yet despite much work on ethnic disparities and tensions in lower income countries, there is little quantitative work on segregation. In this paper, we study residential patterns and economic outcomes for India’s two largest marginalized groups (MGs): Scheduled Castes and Muslims. We assemble a novel dataset of neighborhood-identified microdata on households and public goods for 7000 urban and rural areas. We establish three primary new facts by studying outcomes at both the neighborhood and city/subdistrict levels. First, the government provides fewer health and educational facilities to neighborhoods with higher MG shares. Second, households in high MG share neighborhoods are poorer than comparable households elsewhere, and more so when they belong to these MGs. Third, high segregation cities and subdistricts are poorer and provide fewer public goods to MGs than low segregation areas.

26 January 2021

Sebastian Siegloch (ZEW Mannheim)

Spill-Over and Welfare Effects of Place-Based Policies: Evidence from Investment Subsidies in East Germany

We study the effects of investment subsidies targeted at East German manufacturing firms post reunification. Exploiting quasi-experimental variation in the regional subsidy rates and detailed administrative data linked employer-employee data, we the causal reduced-form policy effects. We show that a 1 percentage point decrease in subsidy rates leads to 1 percent decrease in manufacturing employment and an increase in local unemployment. Moreover, we analyze various policy spill-over: While we do not find significant regional spill-overs within the commuting zone, we demonstrate significant local multiplier effects at the county as the un-treated construction and retail sectors is also negatively affected by the subsidy. Last, we show that local policy makers react to the national subsidy cut by increase local taxes. In a last step, we assess the welfare implications of the policy calculating the marginal value of public funds. The specific place-based policy is comparable to policies targeted at similar age groups, like unemployment benefits. Without the sectoral and policy spill-overs, the welfare effects of the policy are 50% lower.

2 February 2021

no seminar

Research Seminar & RTG Day

Summer 2020

The research seminar invites external researchers on a regular basis and is open to the public. It is part of the RTG day and takes place Tuesdays from 16:15 to 17:30 during the summer term 2020.

Due to the spread of the coronavirus we are planning to provide a virtual seminar. Further information will be released on this website. If you would like to receive invitations to our seminar please send a mail to

28 April 2020

Dennis Novy (University of Warwick)

Exchange Rates and Consumer Prices: Evidence from Brexit

This paper studies how the depreciation of sterling following the Brexit referendum affected consumer prices in the United Kingdom. Our identification strategy uses input-output linkages to account for heterogeneity in exposure to import costs across product groups. We show that, after the referendum, inflation increased by more for product groups with higher import shares in consumer expenditure. This effect is driven by both direct consumption of imported goods and the use of imported inputs in domestic production. Our results are consistent with complete pass-through of import costs to consumer prices and imply an aggregate exchange rate pass-through of 0.29. We estimate the Brexit vote increased consumer prices by 2.9 percent, costing the average household £870 per year. The increase in the cost of living is evenly shared across the income distribution, but differs substantially across regions.

5 May 2020

Fernando Parro (Penn State University)

The Quantitative Effects of Trade Policy on Industrial and Labor Location

One justification for trade protectionism is the benefits of terms-of-trade manipulation. Another reason, more central in trade policy negotiations, is the ideathat trade protectionism brings industries back home. The new economic geography theory has provided intuitive insights on how the location effect of trade policy shapes welfare in the protecting country. Previous work, however, has been able to say much less about the quantitative effects of trade policy on the location of firms across space and over time, and its welfare implications. We develop a multi-country dynamic general-equilibrium trade and spatial model with forward-looking decisions of firms on where to locate production, forward-looking decisions of workers on where to supply labor, and endogenous capital structure accumulation. We take the model to the data using trade and production data for many locations and industries, as well as using data on firms’ demographics from several data sources. We use the model to study how trade protectionism impacts the location of production across space and over time, as well as its welfare consequences. We find quantitative evidence that protection relocates production to the protected country but that this comes at the cost of higher prices and lower welfare.

12 May 2020

Hanna Brenzel, Maren Köhlmann & Axel Ramstein (Destatis)

Please send a mail to
to receive an invitation.

Geo-Coordinates as a variable for linkage

19 May 2020

Gianmarco Ottaviano (Bocconi University)

Cultural Diversity and Immigrant Inventors in the Age of Mass Migration

This paper investigates the role of cultural diversity in attracting global talents and fostering foreign-born scientists’ invention during the Age of Mass Migration. More specifically, we examine the impact of birthplace diversity in US counties on both location choices and innovation outcomes of immigrant inventors arrived at the turn of the 20th century. We combine unique text-mined USPTO historical patent records with Census data and exploit exogenous variation in both immigration flows and diversity indexes induced by former settlements, World War I and the Immigration Acts passed in the 1920s. We hence identify the impact of immigration on invention through its effect on both the size (share of foreign born) and the composition (diversity) of migrants in the locations of destination. Our results show that cultural diversity is a significant pull factor of immigrant inventors, over and above co-ethnic network and immigration size effects. We also find that diversity spurs foreign inventors’ patenting activity at the local level, which is consistent with a model where the dominant mechanism is productive rather than consumption amenities.

9 June 2020

internal seminar

16 June 2020

Arnaud Chevalier (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Asian Gold – Expected Returns to Crime and Thieves Behaviour

Using plausibly exogenous changes in the prices of goods, we show that variations in the price of specific goods affects the location of crime as criminals reallocate efforts towards potential targets with higher probability of ownership of these goods. Our identification strategy relies on the common perception in the UK that families of South Asian descent keep a substantial amount of gold jewellery in their houses. The expected gains from targeting these households for burglaries consequently change exogenously with the gold price. Using a neighbourhood level panel on reported crime from UK police forces combined with census information and official gold prices, we find that neighbourhoods with a larger share of South Asians face a disproportionate increase in property crime relative to other neighbourhoods in the same municipality when the price of gold increases. Additionally, we estimate no displacement either from other crimes or geographically.

23 June 2020

James Fenske (University of Warwick)

Tradition and mortality: Evidence from twin infanticide in Africa

30 June 2020

Andrew Seltzer (Royal Holloway, University of London)

The Impact of Public Transportation and Commuting on Urban Labour Markets: Historical Evidence from the New Survey of London Life and Labour

7 July 2020

Ines Helm (Stockholm School of Economics)

The Dynamic Response of Municipal Budgets to Revenue Shocks

We study the response of municipal budgets to intergovernmental grants, based on quasi-experimental variation within Germany’s fiscal equalization scheme. Because transfers depend on population counts, the 1987 Census led to a permanent shift in municipal revenues. By tracking the fiscal and tax response to these gains or losses, we study the dynamics of the adjustment process over time. Budgets do not adjust instantly: municipal spending adapts over three to four years, predominantly driven by capital and infrastructure investments. Spending adjusts more rapidly to revenue losses than gains, but the response is symmetric in the long run. Local tax rates adapt only slowly, with adjustments stretching over more than a decade. We contrast these findings with prior evidence on the “flypaper effect” and other anomalies in public finance. While we find such anomalies in the short run, the long-run decision-making of municipal governments appears consistent with standard theories of fiscal federalism.

14 July 2020

Yoto Yotov (Drexel University)

On the Heterogeneous Effects of Sanctions on Trade and Welfare: New Evidence Based on Structural Gravity and a New Database

Using a new, global data base covering the years 1950 to 2015, we study the impact of sanctions on international trade and welfare. We make use of the rich dimensionality of our data and of the latest developments in the structural gravity literature. Starting with a broad evaluation by sanction type, we carefully investigate the case of Iran. Effects are significant but also widely heterogeneous across sanctioning countries. Moreover, they depend on the direction of trade. We also perform a counterfactual analysis which translates our partial equilibrium sanction estimates into heterogeneous but intuitive general equilibrium effects within the same framework.

RTG Retreat 2020

The first RTG retreat will take place on October 12th and 13th 2020 to welcome the second cohort. Professors will present their research agenda and discuss ideas for joint projects within the RTG. Senior RTG students will present their current research projects.

Further details will be announced.


Each semester the group meets for an RTG day on Tuesdays. Students and professors will spend the day together at one of the universities discussing their research and ideas. In the morning and early afternoon, first year students will attend their core lectures and in the late afternoon everyone participates in the RTG research seminar. There will be time for bilateral / subgroup meetings discussing joint projects and opportunities for informal discussions e.g. during lunch and coffee breaks. The day will typically close with an informal dinner in a nearby restaurant.