How Should We Design Parental Leave Policies? Evidence from Two Reforms in Italy
Selected project for VisitINPS Fellowship on gender inequalities. Recipient of the Policy Impacts Early-Career Scholars Grant. Winner of the "Carlo Dell'Aringa Young Labor Economists Award 2021".
This paper studies the role of different policy instruments in the design of parental leave policies. Using Italian administrative data on the universe of working mothers, I implement a difference-in-differences design around two unemployment insurance reforms that increased, respectively, the level of benefits and the duration of benefits without offering job protection. I provide novel insights on the trade-offs that mothers face in making leave decisions, the relative value of benefits and job protection, and the incentive costs associated with parental leave policies. Both reforms increased separations from the pre-birth employer and delayed mothers’ return to work. I estimate the costs of changing the generosity of unprotected benefits in terms of earnings, labor force participation, and benefits from other social programs. Taking up unprotected benefits has an enormous cost in terms of foregone earnings for mothers, suggesting that the insurance value of short-term benefits is much higher than the value of job protection. I explore the role of informational frictions and childcare availability in shaping mothers’ leave decisions. I develop a conceptual framework to evaluate the welfare effects of parental leave policies. The analysis demonstrates job protection’s key role in reducing the incentive costs of parental leave policies while showing that mothers highly value insurance in the short term. Increasing the duration of benefits while at the same time extending job protection is welfare improving for mothers.
This paper uses administrative data to analyze the incidence effects of a large EITC program in Italy. I find that firms are an important vector of transmission of incidence: firms very exposed to the tax credit responded to the program by decreasing their employees’ earnings relative to less exposed firms. Evidence suggests that the response was mainly driven by a decrease in the earnings growth rather than by a decrease in earnings level. This finding is consistent with the presence of wage rigidities that prevent firms from directly lowering wages and suggests that the transmission of tax credit incidence from workers to firms happens in a dynamic way.
Welcome to the Neighborhood? Evidence from the Refugees' Reception System in Italy (with Giulia Buccione)
Does refugee immigration affect the quality of neighborhood amenities? In this paper, we exploit the unique setting provided by the Italian refugee reception system to study the effect of refugees’ inflows on housing prices, the extent to which this response reflects individuals’ preferences for immigration, and perceived neighborhood quality. Using administrative data on the exact location of reception centers and a dynamic event study design, we find that, after the opening of a reception center, areas close to the center experience a relative fall in housing prices of about 1%, mainly driven by an amenity effect. We find that the negative effect is larger in larger cities and decreases with the size of the center and the availability of services to facilitate integration. We test whether opening refugees centers impacts local public spending, which we use to proxy the actual quality of local amenities. We find that after the opening of a reception center, areas close to the center experience a relative fall in expenditure per capita of about 2.4%, largely driven by a reduction in welfare spending. Given this well-established negative effect, are there factors or policy responses that might mitigate it? Our findings suggest that investing in services devoted to the mutual integration of the local and refugee community can be effective.
Work in Progress
Breastfeeding, 1950 to 2015: Trends, Selection and Duration (with Martha Bailey and Emily Oster)
We study patterns in maternal breastfeeding in the United States from 1950 to 2015. Our primary innovation is the aggregation of six datasets to provide long-term, nationally representative trends in breastfeeding initiation and persistence over 60 years. These new data show that breastfeeding rates declined from 1950 to the mid-1970s and then increased sharply. Today breastfeeding initiation rates in the U.S. are at a 50-year high. Breastfeeding through 6 months parallels trends in initiation until around the beginning of the 2000s, when initiation rates continued to rise while continuation has plateaued at around 35%. We also explore changes in selection into breastfeeding by socio-economic class and race. Higher socioeconomic status groups increased breastfeeding more quickly in the 1970s, with other groups catching up in the 1980s to the present. However, these groups have not shown the same catch-up in breastfeeding continuation and, as a result, selection in breastfeeding persists.
The Effect of Physician Migration on Health Outcomes (with Diego Verdugo)
Physician shortages have become a severe problem in many countries, especially in rural areas. Chile has historically suffered from shortages that are reflected in high waiting times and significant costs in terms of lives. In this paper, we ask whether foreign migration can help addressing these shortages by exploiting a sudden and arguably exogenous wave of physician migration from Venezuela to Chile. We build a novel dataset on the universe of physicians working in the public sector in Chile to study the effect of this physician supply shock on health outcomes, health care access and crowd-out of Chilean physicians from the public to the private sector. Using an event study design and an instrumental variable strategy we find that, in hospitals and areas most affected, overall mortality decreases right around the time of the inflow of new physicians by around 0.2 percentage points. We discuss and test different explanations for this result: decreases in waiting times, increases in the availability of specialists and faster diagnoses.
Social Insurance Programs and Preferences for Redistribution: A Bayesian Adaptive Choice Experiment (with Marshall Drake, Neil Thakral, Linh T. Tô)
Recipient of the Policy Impacts Early-Career Scholars Grant.
Policy Work and Other Writing
Zurla V. (2022), “Come strutturare i congedi parentali? Un’analisi empirica di due riforme in Italia”, in INPS XXI Rapporto Annuale, INPS, Rome