Graduate Student Research

Felipe Brugues: Inequality Dynamics and Trade in Ecuador

Felipe Brugues is working on a series of papers on trade in Ecuador. Ecuador is an open economy that depends heavily on the exports of commodities, and at the same time, possesses enough state capacity to have detailed information on owners, managers, workers, the structure of supply chains, and the performance of private firms. In the last decade, the country has experienced a large decrease in inequality, with the Gini coefficient falling from 54 in 2007 to 46 points in 2015, and a corresponding decrease in the income share of the top 1%.

Ella Getz Wold: Capital Income and Wealth Stocks

Ella Getz Wold will be using data from the Norwegian administrative tax records on capital income and wealth stocks. The data has some nice qualities: i) it is mostly reported by third parties; ii) it covers the entire population, including the very top of the income/wealth distribution; iii) it includes financial assets, business assets and housing assets (the latter for a shorter time period); and iv) it covers a 20+ year period (so some generational analysis is possible).

Amanda Loyola Heufemann: The Black-White Wage Gap and Human Capital Investment

Amanda Loyola Heufemann to work for one semester as a research assistant to Professor Anna Aizer on a project entitled "The Black-White Wage Gap and Human Capital Investment." In this project, they plan to estimate how efforts to reduce labor market discrimination against African Americans affected schooling decisions of the next generation. In particular, they will exploit the June 1941 executive order, which prohibited discrimination by race in the federal government and in corporations that held federal contracts.

Julia Tanndal: Inequality and International Finance

Julia Tanndal worked on two projects at Brown. First, she finished a paper estimating the impact of financial market deregulation on top income shares. Using the synthetic control method to investigate the two ‘Big Bangs’ of financial deregulation, the U.K. in 1986 and Japan in 1997–99, she and her co-author found that pre-tax top income shares increased after both deregulation episodes.

Jacob Robbins: Income Inequality and Saving Rates

Jacob Robbins was supported in the fall of 2016 to focus full-time on research with Professor David Weil into how increased income inequality has translated into changes in savings rates and capital accumulation, and their potential impact on macroeconomic stability. On average, the rich save a larger proportion of their income and see larger wealth accumulation in their lifetime, whereas the middle class and poor spend more of their income or use credit. As the savings rate among the wealthy in the U.S. increases, interest rates are driven down.

Matthias Pellerin: Measuring Economic Mobility

Matthias Pellerin worked with Professor Andrew Foster on a project examining the role of sample weights in the measurement of economic mobility in the United States using the Panel Study of Income Dynamics. This is the only comprehensive nationally representative panel survey in the U.S. that connects origin and descendant households over a period of 40 years. The challenge with such survey data is that the descendants of a given set of households at one point in time are not necessarily representative of the population at a later date unless representative weights are used.

Matteo Iudice: Educational Inequality in Sub-Saharan Africa

Matteo Iudice worked as a research assistant to Professor Stelios Michalopoulos. Their project collected and harmonized data from population censuses in 24 sub-Saharan African countries to construct measures of educational inequality and intergenerational mobility across roughly 50 million respondents. They are currently exploring how inequality in education and political representation across ethnic groups in Africa shapes inter-group marriage patterns as well as the transmission of ethnic identity within ethnically mixed households.

Violeta Gutkowski: Wage Inequality and Interest Rates

Violeta Gutkowski was supported in the first semester to work on a research paper examining the extent to which rising wage inequality has contributed to falling interest rates since the late 1980’s. The underlying idea is that because the marginal propensity to consume falls with income, higher inequality raises the supply of savings. Analyzing the issue quantitatively in the setting of overlapping generations models, she concluded that observed inequality was insufficient to account for most of the decline in interest rates.