Homeownership and Portfolio Choice over the Generations (new version, October 2020)
Earnings are riskier and more unequal for households born in the 1960s and 1980s than for those born in the 1940s. Despite the improvements in financial conditions, younger generations are less likely to be living in their own homes than older generations at the same age. By using a life-cycle model with housing and portfolio choice that includes flexible earnings risk and aggregate asset price risk, I show that changes in earnings dynamics account for a large part of the reduction in homeownership across generations. Lower-income households find it harder to buy housing, and as a result accumulate less wealth.
Wage Risk and Government and Spousal Insurance (joint with Mariacristina De Nardi and Giulio Fella, December 2020)
The extent to which households can self-insure and the government can help them to do so depends on the wage risk that they face and their family structure. We study wage risk in the UK and show that the persistence and riskiness of wages depends on one’s age and position in the wage distribution. We also calibrate a model of couples and singles with two alternative processes for wages: a canonical one and a flexible one that allows for the much richer dynamics that we document in the data. We use our model to show that allowing for rich wage dynamics is important to properly evaluate the effects of benefit reform: relative to the richer process, the canonical process underestimates wage persistence for women and generates a more important role for in-work benefits relative to income support. The optimal benefit configuration under the richer wage process, instead, is similar to that in place in the benchmark UK economy before the Universal Credit reform. The Universal Credit reform generates additional welfare gains by introducing an income disregard for families with children. While families with children are better off, households without children, and particularly single women, are worse off.
Family and Government Insurance: Wage, Earnings, and Income Risks in the Netherlands and the U.S. (joint with Mariacristina De Nardi, Giulio Fella, Marike Knoef, and Raun van Ooijen), Journal of Public Economics, volume 193, article no. 104327 (2021). DOI https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpubeco.2020.104327
We document new facts about risk in male wages and earnings, household earnings, and pre- and post-tax income in the Netherlands and the United States. We find that, in both countries, earnings display important deviations from the typical assumptions of linearity and normality. Individual-level male wage and earnings risk is relatively high at the beginning and end of the working life, and for those in the lower and upper parts of the income distribution. Hours are the main driver of the negative skewness and, to a lesser extent, the high kurtosis of earnings changes. Even though we find no evidence of added-worker effects, the presence of spousal earnings reduces the variability of household income compared to that of male earnings. In the Netherlands, government transfers are a major source of insurance, substantially reducing the standard deviation, negative skewness, and kurtosis of income changes. In the U.S. the role of family insurance is much larger than in the Netherlands. Family and government insurance reduce, but do not eliminate nonlinearities in household disposable income by age and previous earnings in either country.
“Nonlinear household earnings dynamics, self-insurance, and welfare" (joint with Mariacristina De Nardi and Giulio Fella), Journal of the European Economic Association, volume 18, issue 2, pages 890-926 (2020). DOI https://doi.org/10.1093/jeea/jvz010.
An earlier, different version of the paper was circulated as “The Implications of Richer Earnings Dynamics for Consumption and Wealth", NBER working paper no. 21917 (2016).
Earnings dynamics are much richer than typically assumed in macro models with heterogeneous agents. This holds for individual-pre-tax and household-post-tax earnings and across administrative (Social Security Administration) and survey (Panel Study of Income Dynamics) data. We estimate two alternative processes for household after-tax earnings and study their implications using a standard life-cycle model. Both processes feature a persistent and a transitory component, but while the first one is the canonical linear process with stationary shocks, the second one has substantially richer earnings dynamics, allowing for age-dependence of moments, non-normality, and nonlinearity in previous earnings and age. Allowing for richer earnings dynamics implies a substantially better fit of the evolution of cross-sectional consumption inequality over the life cycle and of the individual-level degree of consumption insurance against persistent earnings shocks. The richer earnings process also implies lower welfare costs of earnings risk.
I'm a proud winner of an UCL Education Award for my teaching work.
I have taught Economics 1001 at University College London for three years, as part of the CORE Project. Here they interviewed me about my experience teaching the material to first year students and introducing it to new teachers. I have also collaborated with the translation to Spanish of the book as an academic reviewer.
I have also taught Advanced Macroeconomics in the UCL MSc Economics (2018-2019) and Microeconomics for Policy in the UCL MSc Economic Policy (2014-2015).
I have also run a panel data course in A Coruña University for four years.