Our objective is to engage in innovative research that extends the frontiers of the discipline, deepening our understanding of the operation of modern economies. Research spans almost all the major sub-fields of economics with particular strengths in microeconomic theory, including behavioural economics; econometrics, both micro-econometrics and time series; economic history and development and international economics.

The University of Oxford is ranked 8th in the world and 2nd in Europe in the most recent Tilburg University ranking of Economics departments, based on research contribution for the period between 2012-2016.

In the most recent Research Excellence Framework (REF 2014) to evaluate the research output of UK Universities, Oxford was first in overall research strength in Economics and Econometrics, with more research ranked as ‘world-leading’ than any other participating institution. In a submission of 84 FTE academics, 56% of our research was rated as ‘world-leading’ (4*) and a further 33% rated as ‘internationally excellent’ (3*).

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As one of Europe’s leading Economics departments, Oxford aims to inform and improve the development and implementation of economic and public policy in the UK and around the world. We do this by producing innovative research that extends the frontiers of the discipline and deepens our understanding of the operation of modern economies.

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Working Papers

Authors: Peter Neary, Céline Carrère, Monika Mrázová

Mar 2020

Gravity as both fact and theory is one of the great success stories of recent researchGravity as both fact and theory is one of the great success stories of recent researchon international trade, and has featured prominently in the policy debate overBrexit. We rst review the facts, noting the overwhelming evidence that trade tendsto fall with distance. We then introduce some expository tools for understanding CEStheories of gravity as a simple general-equilibrium system. Next, we point out someanomalies with the theory: mounting evidence against constant trade elasticities, and implausible predictions for bilateral trade balances. Finally, we sketch an approachimplausible predictions for bilateral trade balances. Finally, we sketch an approachbased on subconvex gravity as a promising direction to resolving them.

JEL Codes: F17, F14, F10

Keywords: Bilateral Trade Balances; Brexit; Elasticity of Trade to Distance; Quantile Regression; Structural Gravity and Trade; Subconvex Demands

Individual View

Authors: Anthony Venables

Mar 2020

Economic adjustment to trade and policy shocks is hampered by the fact that some sectors tend to cluster, so are hard to initiate in new places. This can give rise to persistent spatial disparities between cities within a country. The paper sets out a two-sector model in which cities divide into those producing tradable goods or services subject to agglomeration economies, and those only producing non-tradables for the national market. If import competition destroys some established tradable sectors, then affected cities fail to attract new tradable activities and switch to just produce non-tradables. Full employment is maintained (we assume perfect markets and price flexibility) but disparities between the two types of cities are increased. All non-tradable cities experience real income loss, while remaining tradable cities boom. The main beneficiaries are land-owners in remaining tradable cities, but there may be aggregate loss as the country ends up with too many cities producing non-tradables, and too few with internationally competitive activities. Fiscal policy has opposite effects in the two types of cities, with fiscal contraction causing decline in cities producing non-tradables, increasing activity in cities producing tradable goods, widening spatial disparities, and in the process increasing the share of rent in the economy.

JEL Codes: F12, F60, R11, R12

Keywords: Urban economics, divergence, rebalancing, lagging regions, de-industrialisation, fiscal policy

Individual View

Authors: Francesco Zanetti, Carlo Pizzinelli, Konstantinos Theodoridis

Feb 2020

This paper documents state dependence in labor market fluctuations. Using a Threshold Vector Autoregression model (TVAR), we establish that the unemployment rate, the job separation rate, and the job finding rate exhibit a larger response to productivity shocks during periods with low aggregate productivity. A Diamond-Mortensen-Pissarides model with endogenous job separation and on-the-job search replicates these empirical regularities well. We calibrate the model to match the standard deviation of the job-transition rates explained by productivity shocks in the TVAR, and show that the model explains 88 percent of the state dependence in the unemployment rate, 76 percent for the separation rate and 36 percent for the job finding rate. The key channel underpinning state dependence in both job separation and job finding rates is the interaction of the firm’s reservation productivity level and the distribution of match-specific idiosyncratic productivity. Results are robust across several variations to the baseline model.

JEL Codes: E24, E32, J64, C11

Keywords: Search and Matching Models, State Dependence in Business Cycles, Threshold Vector Autoregression

Individual View

Authors: Brian A’Hearn, Stefano Chianese, Giovanni Vecchi

Feb 2020

A problem for both historical and contemporary research on inequality is a scarcity of high quality data on wealthy households. In this paper we explore a rich source of such data for historical periods: the account books of aristocratic households preserved in their family archives. We make three contributions: i) a survey of the nobility in Italy and of their publicly accessible archives; ii) an assay of the type and quality of budget data they contain; and iii) an assessment of the impact of adding upper-tail families to a household budget sample on inequality estimates. In a nutshell, our assessment is that the data are relatively abundant, accurate, and highly impactful. An enhanced sample of noble families will enable us to significantly improve estimates of Italian inequality right back to the country’s founding in 1861. There is no reason to think the approach would be any less feasible or fruitful in other European countries.

JEL Codes: N33, N34, I3

Individual View

Authors: Giacomo Gabbuti

Feb 2020

A century after Mussolini’s seizure of power, distributive trends during Interwar Italy are only partially known. This paper presents new evidence on inequality, contributing to the ‘classic’ debate on Fascism’s origins and legacy. Labour shares fell dramatically during the Great War, quickly recovered by 1922, and experienced a steady decline during Fascism, reaching a secular minimum in early 1940s. A newly assembled database of fiscal tabulations shows increasing concentration at the top between 1925 and 1936. These findings testify the fundamentally regressive nature of the Fascist regime, revealing significant discontinuity in Italy’s long-run inequality trend.

JEL Codes: B12, D63, J31, N14, N34

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