Working papers

The (market) value of State honors
with R. Coulomb and S. Benveniste
State awards to civilians are a widespread social phenomenon across space and time. This paper quantifies the impact of State awards given to Directors on the stock value of their firms. We link a comprehensive dataset of recipients of the Légion d'honneur—the most prestigious official award in France—over the 1995-2019 period to Board positions in French listed firms. We document large abnormal returns in the stocks of recipients' firms at the date of the award, suggesting that awards signal valuable access to policy-makers. This interpretation is corroborated by the absence of any market reaction for recipients who were already identified before award receipt as being close to the Government.
Gender differences in re-contesting decisions: New evidence from French municipal elections
with J. Peveri
This paper studies differences across genders in the re-contesting decisions of politicians following electoral wins or defeats. Using close races in mixed-gender French local elections, we show that women are less likely to persist in competition when they lose compared to male runners-up, but are equally or more prone than male winners to re-contest when they win. Differences in observable characteristics or in the expected electoral returns of running again cannot fully account for these gender gaps in persistence. In contrast, the heterogeneity of the results across political ideology, age, experience and occupation suggests that behavioural explanations are at play. Additionally, we provide evidence that a woman's victory encourages former female challengers to re-contest but does not trigger the entry of new female candidates.
Where do politicians send pork? Evidence from central government transfers to French municipalities
with B. Fabre
This paper uses French data to simultaneously estimate the impact of two types of connections on government subsidies allocated to municipalities. We distinguish between municipalities in which ministers held office before being appointed to the government, and those where they lived as children. Exploiting ministers' entries into and exits from the government, we show that cities where a minister was mayor receive 30% more investment subsidies when the politician they are linked to enters into the government, and a similar size decrease when the minister leaves. We do not find these outcomes for cities that ministers lived in as children.


The impact of 2020 French municipal elections on the spread of COVID-19
with G. Cassan, Journal of Population Economics, Vol. 35(3), pp. 963-988, 2022
In the first weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic, the French government decided to maintain the first round of the 2020 municipal elections that was scheduled on March 15, 2020. What has been the impact of these elections on the spread of COVID-19 in France? Answering this question leads to intricate econometric issues as omitted variables may drive both epidemiological dynamics and electoral turnout, and as a national lockdown was imposed almost at the same time as the elections. In order to disentangle the effect of the elections from that of confounding factors, we first predict each d駱artement's own epidemiological dynamics using information up to the election to calibrate a standard logistic model. We then take advantage of differences in electoral turnout across d駱artements to identify the impact of the election on prediction errors in hospitalizations. We report a detrimental effect of the first round of the election in locations that were at relatively advanced stages of the epidemic by the time of the election. Estimates suggest that elections accounted for at least 3,000 hospitalization, that is 11% of all hospitalizations by the end of March. This indicates that the health cost of holding elections during an epidemic is important and that promoting ways of voting that lower exposure to contamination is key until the COVID-19 pandemic shows signs of abating.
Traffic safety and norms of compliance with rules: An exploratory study
with H. Laurent and C. Treibich, Economics Bulletin, Vol. 41(4), pp. 2464-2483, 2021
We use a simple model of drivers' vigilance effort choice to show that drivers' propensity to follow traffic rules has two opposite effects on road safety. On the one hand, it lowers the frequency of dangerous situations. On the other hand, it also reduces drivers' vigilance effort as each driver anticipates that dangerous situations will be less frequent. These two opposite effects may lead to a non-monotonic relationship between compliance with road rules and the incidence of road traffic accidents. We present cross-country estimates that support the existence of a bell-shaped relationship between norms of compliance with rules and traffic fatalities.
Political connections and white-collar crime: Evidence from insider trading in France
with T. Bourveau and R. Coulomb, Journal of the European Economic Association, Vol. 19(5), pp. 2543-2576, 2021
This paper investigates whether political connections affect individuals' propensity to engage in white-collar crime. We identify connections by campaign donations or direct friendships and use the 2007 French Presidential election as a marker of change in the value of political connections to the winning candidate. We compare the behavior of Directors of publicly listed companies who were connected to the future President to the behavior of other non-connected Directors, before and after the election. Consistent with the belief that connections to a powerful politician can protect someone from prosecution or punishment, we uncover indirect evidence that connected Directors are more likely to engage in suspicious insider trading after the election: Purchases by connected Directors trigger larger abnormal returns, connected Directors are less likely to comply with trading disclosure requirements in a timely fashion, and connected Directors trade closer in time to their firms' announcements of results.
Protests and trust in the state: Evidence from African countries
with Y. Zylberberg, Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 152, pp. 55-67, 2017
This paper provides empirical evidence that, after protests, citizens substantially revise their views on the current leader, but also their trust in the country's institutions. The empirical strategy exploits variation in the timing of an individual level survey and the proximity to social protests in 13 African countries. First, we find that trust in political leaders strongly and abruptly decreases after protests. Second, trust in the country monitoring institutions plunges as well. Both effects are much stronger when protests are repressed by the government. As no signs of distrust are recorded even a couple of days before the social conflicts, protests can be interpreted as sudden signals sent on a leaders' actions from which citizens extract information on their country fundamentals.
The wild West is wild: The homicide resource curse
with M. Couttenier and P. Grosjean, Journal of the European Economic Association, Vol. 15(3), pp. 558-585, 2017
We document interpersonal violence as a dimension of the resource curse. We rely on a historical natural experiment in the United States, where mineral discoveries occurred sometimes before, sometimes after formal institutions were established in the county of discovery. In places where mineral discoveries occurred before formal institutions were established, there were more homicides per capita historically and the effect has persisted to this day. Today, the share of homicides and assaults explained by the historical circumstances of mineral discoveries is comparable to the effect of education or income. Our results imply that short-term and quasi-exogenous variations in the institutional environment can lead to large and persistent differences in cultural and institutional development.
Scrambled questions penalty in multiple choice tests: New evidence from French undergraduate students
with M. Raux and T. van Ypersele, Economics Bulletin, Vol. 37(1), pp. 347-351, 2017
This note evaluates the scrambled questions penalty using multiple choice tests taken by first-year undergraduate students who follow a microeconomics introductory course. We provide new evidence that students perform worse at scrambled questionnaires than at logically ordered ones. We improve on previous studies by explicitly modeling students individual skills thanks to a fixed effects regression. We further show that the scrambled questions penalty does not differ along gender but varies along the distribution of students' skills and mostly affects students with lower-intermediate skills.
Trust and the welfare state: The twin peaks curve
with Y. Algan and P. Cahuc, The Economic Journal, Vol. 126(593), pp. 861-883, 2016
We show the existence of a twin peaks relation between trust and the size of the welfare state that stems from two opposing forces. Uncivic people support large welfare states because they expect to benefit from them without bearing their costs. But civic individuals support generous benefits and high taxes only when they are surrounded by trustworthy individuals. We provide empirical evidence for these behaviors and this twin peaks relation in the OECD countries.
Star wars: The empirics strike back
with A. Brodeur, M. L and Y. Zylberberg, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, Vol. 8(1), pp. 1-32, 2016
Using 50,000 tests published in the AER, JPE, and QJE, we identify a residual in the distribution of tests that cannot be explained solely by journals favoring rejection of the null hypothesis. We observe a two-humped camel shape with missing p-values between 0.25 and 0.10 that can be retrieved just after the 0.05 threshold and represent 10-20% of marginally rejected tests. Our interpretation is that researchers inflate the value of just-rejected tests by choosing ``significant'' specifications. We propose a method to measure this residual and describe how it varies by article and author characteristics.
Living in the garden of Eden: Mineral resources and preferences for redistribution
with M. Couttenier, Journal of Comparative Economics, Vol. 43(2), pp. 243-256, 2015
This paper provides empirical evidence that mineral resources abundance is associated to preferences for redistribution in the United States. We show that individuals living in states with large mineral resources endowment are more opposed to redistribution than others. We take advantage of both the spatial and the temporal distributions of mineral resources discoveries since 1800 to uncover two mechanisms through which mineral resources can foster ones' opposition to redistribution: either by transmission of values formed in the past, or by the exposure to mineral discoveries during individuals' life-time. We show that both mechanisms matter to explain respondents' preferences.
The impact of political majorities on firm value: Do electoral promises or friendship connections matter?
with R. Coulomb, Journal of Public Economics, Vol. 115, pp. 158-170, 2014
This paper simultaneously estimates the impact of political majorities on the values of firms that would benefit from the platforms of the two main candidates at the 2007 French presidential election, S馮ol鈩e Royal and Nicolas Sarkozy, and of those that are ruled or owned by Sarkozy's friends. We use prediction-market data to track each candidate's victory probability, and investigate how this relates to firms' abnormal returns. Our estimates suggest that the value of firms that would likely benefit from the platforms of Royal and Sarkozy changed by 1% and 2%, respectively, with the candidates' victory probabilities, and that firms connected to Sarkozy out-performed others by 3% due to his election.
Allocation of ordered exclusive choices
Stata Journal, Vol. 13(3), pp. 618-624, 2013
This note describes the Stata command alloch which helps to allocate exclusive choices among individuals who have ordered preferences over available alternatives.
Does trust favor macroeconomic stability?
Journal of Comparative Economics, Vol. 41(3), pp. 653-668, 2013
This paper investigates the relationship between trust and macroeconomic volatility. An illustrative model rationalizes the relationship between trust and volatility. In this model, trust relaxes credit constraints and diminishes investment's procyclicality. I provide empirical evidence for the basic predictions of the model. Then, I show that higher trust is associated with lower macroeconomic volatility in a cross section of countries. This relationship persists when various covariates are taken into account. I use inherited trust of Americans as an instrumental variable for trust in their origin country to overcome reverse causality concerns. Using changes in inherited trust over the 20th century, I do not find clear evidence that increasing trust is also associated with decreasing volatility across time at the country level.
Senior activity rate, retirement incentives, and labor relations
with H. Blake, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, Vol. 5(8), pp. 1-32, 2011
In order to face the aging of their populations governments of developed countries reformed their retirement systems during the last two decades, by discouraging early retirement and increasing incentives to work for older workers. Senior participation rates to the labor force not only differ strikingly in level from one country to another, they also differ in their reaction to retirement incentives set by governments. This paper highlights how disutility to work can merely influence the effectiveness of such reforms. We build a highly stylized model according to which the reaction of senior activity rate to monetary incentives to work depends on the properties of the specific distribution of working conditions in the country. Second, taking the quality of labor relations as a proxy for working conditions, we show empirically that aggregate reactions to retirement incentives depend on the distribution of labor relations at country level. We use panel data for nineteen OECD countries from 1980 to 2004. We show that the elasticity of senior male labor force participation rate to retirement incentives is stronger in countries with better and more homogeneously distributed labor relations.
The co-evolution of social capital and financial development
Economics Bulletin, Vol. 31(2), pp. 1063-1081, 2011
This paper documents the co-evolution of social capital, measured as generalized trust, and financial development over the twentieth century. I use cross generations inherited trust of Americans with foreign ancestors to track trust in their home country in 1913 and 1990. The paper documents a positive cross-section relationship between trust and financial development in 1913. Then, I show that increasing trust is also associated with increasing financial development at the country level over the twentieth century. In other words, countries that experienced larger improvements in trust also experienced a stronger financial development. These results are robust to the introduction of real GDP per capita and trade openness as alternative determinants of financial development.


Analyse Macro馗onomique Approfondie
by M. Wickens, with H. Tabarraei et M. Sy, De Boeck, 2010
Cet ouvrage est le manuel de macro馗onomie le plus proche des d騅eloppements r馗ents de la discipline. Cet ouvrage propose aux 騁udiants et aux chercheurs une approche de l'ensemble de l'馗onomie en terme d'駲uilibre g駭駻al dynamique. Michael Wickens pr駸ente les principales id馥s de la macro馗onomie moderne et ses liens avec la finance. L'ouvrage d饕ute par la pr駸entation du mod鑞e d'駲uilibre g駭駻al dynamique pour une 馗onomie ferm馥. Ce mod鑞e est par la suite 騁endu pour prendre en compte les nombreuses probl駑atiques de la macro馗onomie. L'ouvrage couvre ainsi les questions importantes que sont la croissance, les cycles 馗onomiques, la politique budg騁aire et son financement, l'馗onomie ouverte, la valorisation des actifs, la d騁ermination des taux de change et la politique mon騁aire. Cet ouvrage comporte en outre une annexe et des raisonnements d騁aill駸 qui permettent d'appr馼ender l'ensemble des outils math駑atiques utilis駸. Il s'adresse aux 騁udiants de niveau master, ainsi qu'aux doctorants et aux chercheurs en 馗onomie.
    Last update: March 2023