nep-eec New Economics Papers
on European Economics
Issue of 2006‒08‒19
eleven papers chosen by
Giuseppe Marotta
Universita di Modena e Reggio Emilia

  1. The Diverse Structures of Passenger Car Taxation in Europe and the EU Commissions Proposal for Reform By Uwe Kunert; Hartmut Kuhfeld
  2. Apprenticeship in Europe: Fading or Flourishing? By Hilary Steedman
  3. Unequal Pay or Unequal employment? A Cross-Country Analysis of Gender Gaps By Claudia Olivetti; B Petrongolo
  4. Heterogeneity in individual preferences for public expenditure: what suggestions for the assignment of competencies to the EU? By Carlo Mazzaferro; Alberto Zanardi
  5. Implications for liquidity from innovation and transparency in the European corporate bond market By Marco Laganá; Martin Perina; Isabel von Köppen-Mertes; Avinash Persaud
  6. Patterns of Work Across the OECD By Giulia Faggio; Stephen Nickell
  7. Credit risk mitigation in central bank operations and its effects on financial markets - the case of the Eurosystem By Ulrich Bindseil; Francesco Papadia
  8. Measuring and Explaining Management Practices Across Firms and Countries By Nick Bloom; John Van Reenen
  9. EMU Enlargement, Policy Uncertainty and Economic Reforms By Carsten Hefeker
  10. Settlement size and fertility in the Nordic countries By Hill Kulu; Andres Vikat; Gunnar Andersson
  11. Financial Constraints and Continental Business Groups : Evidence from German Konzerns By Dorothea Schäfer; Yuriy Gorodnichenko; Oleksandr Talavera

  1. By: Uwe Kunert; Hartmut Kuhfeld
    Abstract: In this study we first analyze duties on passenger cars in 27 European countries. Taxes and fees related to the registration, ownership and use of cars are assessed differently across Europe, and their rates vary significantly. We find that the annual taxes levied on specific types of cars differ across countries by a factor of up to four, while the various kinds of duties levied account for extremely diverse shares of the entire car-related tax burden and give rise to very different ratios of fixed and variable components in the taxes levied. Given the importance of taxation systems for market and competitive conditions, the Euro-pean Commission is seeking to achieve reciprocal alignment of the various systems. The Commission has also proposed that greater importance be given to environmental criteria in the assessment of vehicle related taxes. Effectively in some countries, the registration taxes represent a significant burden on the acquisition of new vehicles; this factor reduces market transparency and may mean that taxes are levied twice. Only in a few countries' tax schemes is fuel consumption taken into account, and then only to a marginal degree. It is thus neces-sary to modify and simplify the tax systems in Europe, because it is crucial that the traffic sector contribute more to climate protection, and because motor vehicles impair local air quality. In this context, the overall structure of the various charges to passenger cars should be rebalanced, with CO2 emissions not being the sole focus.
    Date: 2006
  2. By: Hilary Steedman
    Abstract: This paper sets out the extent and defining characteristics of apprenticeship in Europe. Apprenticeship is thensituated within the wider context of European provision for education and training of 16-19 year olds and asimple typology is proposed and explained. The German-speaking dual system countries are characterised ashigh employer commitment countries with minimal integration of apprenticeship into full-time 16-19 provisionand weak links with tertiary education. The UK, the Netherlands and France are characterised as havingrelatively low levels of employer commitment but greater integration of apprenticeship into full-time provisionand stronger links between apprenticeship and tertiary level provision. Recent evidence on the extent to whichboth apprenticeship models improve employment probabilities is reviewed and pressures on the twoapprenticeship models resulting from increasingly competitive global markets and consequent changing skillneeds are examined. A final section discusses whether apprenticeship in Europe can adapt to and survive thesepressures.
    Keywords: apprenticeship, dual system, school to work transition
    JEL: I J24
    Date: 2005–12
  3. By: Claudia Olivetti; B Petrongolo
    Abstract: There is evidence of a negative cross-country correlation between gender wage and employment gaps. We arguethat non-random selection of women into work explains an important part of such correlation and thus of theobserved variation in wage gaps. The idea is that, if women who are employed tend to have relatively high-wagecharacteristics, low female employment rates may become consistent with low gender wage gaps simplybecause low-wage women would not feature in the observed wage distribution. We explore this idea across theUS and EU countries estimating gender gaps in potential wages. We recover information on wages for those notin work in a given year using alternative imputation techniques. Imputation is based on (i) wage observationsfrom nearest available waves in the sample, (ii) observable characteristics of the nonemployed and (iii) astatistical repeated-sampling model. We then estimate median wage gaps on the resulting imputed wagedistributions, thus simply requiring assumptions on the position of the imputed wage observations with respectto the median, but not on their level. We obtain higher median wage gaps on imputed rather than actual wagedistributions for most countries in the sample. However, this difference is small in the US, the UK and mostcentral and northern EU countries, and becomes sizeable in Ireland, France and southern EU, all countries inwhich gender employment gaps are high. In particular, correction for employment selection explains more thana half of the observed correlation between wage and employment gaps.
    Keywords: median gender gaps, sample selection, wage imputation
    JEL: E24 J16 J31
    Date: 2005–12
  4. By: Carlo Mazzaferro (University of Bologna and Capp); Alberto Zanardi (University of Bologna and EconPubblica-Università Bocconi)
    Abstract: Building on the principles of the classical thoey of fiscl federalism, the new political economy of multi-level government indicates a number of criteria asa guide for the efficient assignment of competencies between the European Union (EU) and the member states: internalize interregional spillovers; exploit economies of scale; take into account heterogeneity of preferencies. The aim of this paper is to compare the welfare effects that the heterogeneity of individual preferencies for public expenditures imply with the centralized and the decentralized solutions. In this perspective a median voter mechanism of collective decision is assumed to work both at national and EU level. Using data from a large international survey (ISSP), a series of econometric models has been estimated in order to make individual attitudes for public expenditures representative and comparable across different categories and different countries. A measurement of the individual and total welfare loss has then been derived in the cases when the decision upon the level of public provision is taken by the national or by the median EU voter respectively. The empirical analysis reveals that in some sectors of public expenditures (health, education, employment benefits) centralized solution welfare dominates (or is close to dominating) decentralization even in the absence of economies of scale and interregional spillovers.
    Keywords: public expenditure, preferences, European Union,
    Date: 2006–02–20
  5. By: Marco Laganá (European Central Bank, Kaiserstrasse 29, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.); Martin Perina (European Central Bank, Kaiserstrasse 29, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.); Isabel von Köppen-Mertes (European Central Bank, Kaiserstrasse 29, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.); Avinash Persaud (Intelligence Capital Limited, 145-147 St. John Street, London EC1V 4PY, United Kingdom)
    Abstract: This paper offers a new framework for the assessment of financial market liquidity and identifies two types: search liquidity and systemic liquidity. Search liquidity, i.e. liquidity in “normal” times, is driven by search costs required for a trader to find a willing buyer for an asset he/she is trying to sell or vice versa. Search liquidity is asset specific. Systemic liquidity, i.e. liquidity in “stressed” times, is driven by the homogeneity of investors - the degree to which one’s decision to sell is related to the decision to sell made by other market players at the same time. Systemic liquidity is specific to market participants’ behaviour. This framework proves fairly powerful in identifying the role of credit derivatives and transparency for liquidity of corporate bond markets. We have applied it to the illiquid segments of the European credit market and found that credit derivatives are likely to improve search liquidity as well as systemic liquidity. However, it is possible that in their popular use today, credit derivatives reinforce a concentration of positions that can worsen systemic liquidity. We also found that post-trade transparency has surprisingly little bearing on liquidity in that where it improves liquidity it is merely acting as a proxy for pre-trade transparency or transparency of holdings. We conclude that if liquidity is the objective, pre-trade transparency, as well as some delayed transparency on net exposures and concentrations, is likely to be more supportive of both search and systemic liquidity than post-trade transparency. JEL Classification: G14, G15, G18.
    Keywords: Financial market functioning, liquidity, transparency, credit markets and financial innovation.
    Date: 2006–08
  6. By: Giulia Faggio; Stephen Nickell
    Abstract: Market work per person of working age differs widely across the OECD countries and therehave been some significant changes in the last forty years. How to explain this pattern?Taxes are part of the story but much remains to be explained. If we include all the elementsof the social security systems like early retirement benefits, sickness and disability benefitsand unemployment benefits, then we can capture some aspects of the overall pattern but stilla lot remains unexplained. The story favoured by Alesina et al. (CEPR DP.5140, 2005) isthat the nexus of strong unions, generous welfare and social democracy implies both hightaxes and pressure in favour of work-sharing in response to adverse shocks. This story,however, falls foul of the simple fact that most Scandinavian countries now do much morework than the French and Germans despite having stronger unions, more generous welfare,higher taxes and more social democracy. Ultimately, we are forced into the position thatthere is no simple story. Some of the broad patterns can be explained but there remaincountry specific factors which are hard to identify but lead to substantial differences from onecountry to another.
    Keywords: work, working hours, employment
    JEL: J22
    Date: 2006–06
  7. By: Ulrich Bindseil (European Central Bank, Kaiserstrasse 29, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany); Francesco Papadia (European Central Bank, Kaiserstrasse 29, 60311 Frankfurt am Main, Germany)
    Abstract: This paper reviews the role and effects of the collateral framework which central banks, and in particular the Eurosystem, use in conducting temporary monetary policy operations. First, the paper explains the design of such a framework from the perspective of risk mitigation, which is the purpose of collateralisation. The paper argues that, by means of appropriate risk mitigation measures, the residual risk on any potentially eligible asset can be equalised and brought down to the level consistent with the risk tolerance of the central bank. Once this result has been achieved, eligibility decisions should be based on an economic cost-benefit analysis. Second, the paper looks at the effects of the collateral framework on financial markets, and in particular on spreads between eligible and ineligible assets.
    Date: 2006–08
  8. By: Nick Bloom; John Van Reenen
    Abstract: We use an innovative survey tool to collect management practice data from 732 medium sized manufacturingfirms in the US, France, Germany and the UK. These measures of managerial practice are strongly associatedwith firm-level productivity, profitability, Tobin's Q, sales growth and survival rates. Management practicesalso display significant cross-country differences with US firms on average better managed than Europeanfirms, and significant within-country differences with a long tail of extremely badly managed firms. We findthat poor management practices are more prevalent when (a) product market competition is weak and/or when(b) family-owned firms pass management control down to the eldest sons (primo geniture). European firmsreport lower levels of competition, while French and British firms also report substantially higher levels ofprimo geniture due to the influence of Norman legal origin and generous estate duty for family firms. Wecalculate that product market competition and family firms account for about half of the long tail of badlymanaged firms and up to two thirds of the American advantage over Europe in management practices.
    Keywords: management practices, productivity, competition, family firms
    JEL: L2 M2 O32 O33
    Date: 2006–03
  9. By: Carsten Hefeker
    Abstract: The paper analyzes the relation between monetary uncertainty and government incentives to implement economic reforms that reduce structural distortions and make economies more flexible. It is shown that uncertainty about the central bank’s reaction function leads to more reforms. I relate this result to the debate about central bank setup in a larger monetary union.
    Keywords: transparency of monetary policy, ECB voting structure, European Monetary Union, optimal representation, labor market regulation
    JEL: D72 E52 E58 F33
    Date: 2006
  10. By: Hill Kulu (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany); Andres Vikat (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany); Gunnar Andersson (Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany)
    Abstract: There is a growing body of literature that looks at the causes of below-replacement fertility in developed countries. While the variation in childbearing patterns across countries and between socio-economic groups within a country has been studied in detail, little is known about the differences in fertility patterns across settlements within a country. A few recent studies suggest that there are persistent differentials between high- and low-fertility settlements in contemporary Europe. This study examines fertility variation across settlements in four Nordic countries: Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. We base our study on aggregate and individual-level register data. We first examine annual total and parity-specific fertility across settlement type from the mid-1970s to the early twenty-first century. We proceed to study the relative contribution of the socio-economic characteristics of the local populations and the characteristics of the settlements to this variation, using hazard regression models.
    Keywords: Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, event history analysis, fertility, urbanization
    JEL: J1 Z0
    Date: 2006–08
  11. By: Dorothea Schäfer; Yuriy Gorodnichenko; Oleksandr Talavera
    Abstract: Using a unique, large panel of German firms, we examine whether participation in business groups reduces the sensitivity of investment to cash flow. The main finding is that the reduction in the sensitivity is small for small firms and negligible for medium and large firms. We argue that by virtue of the continental business model, gains from business groups should be in better contract enforcement and coordination rather than in internalizing capital markets.
    Keywords: concern, business group, investment, liquidity constraints.
    JEL: G32 G34
    Date: 2006

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