Digital comparison tools commonly known as price comparison sites allow consumers to compare prices for almost any product in a matter of seconds, free of charge, using just a few clicks to search the Internet. While at face value this looks like a positive, empowering development, many consumer watchdog organisations have started to raise questions about price comparison sites’ reliability, transparency and accountability. Their most prominent concern targets how supplier commissions to the price comparison sites may skew rankings
Governments and competition authorities are starting to investigate. The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority has completed a market study into price comparison sites. The German Federal Cartels Office is currently conducting a sector enquiry. Other agencies across Europe appear to be interested in launching their own enquiries.
WIK and CEPS are organizing a European debate on competition issues around price comparison sites. We have invited a line-up of excellent high-level expert speakers from the European Commission, national competition authorities and the University of St. Gallen to discuss the actual impact of price comparison tools on consumers and suppliers as well as the entire economy.
Kalina Manova will present a paper which quantifies the origins of firm size heterogeneity when firms are interconnected in a production network. The study was co-authored by Professor Manova, Andrew Bernard, Emmanuel Dhyne, Glenn Magerman and Andreas Moxnes. They document new stylized facts about the universe of buyer-supplier relationships among all firms in Belgium during 2002-2014. These facts motivate a model in which firms buy inputs from upstream suppliers and sell to downstream buyers and final demand. Firms can be large not only because they have high production capability (i.e. productivity or product quality), but also because they interact with more, better and larger buyers and suppliers, and because they are better matched to their buyers and suppliers. The model delivers an exact decomposition of firm size into upstream and downstream margins with firm, buyer/supplier and match components. The paper establishes three empirical results. First, downstream factors explain the vast majority of firm size heterogeneity, while upstream factors are only one fourth as important. Second, nearly all the variation on the downstream side is driven by network sales to other firms rather than final demand. By contrast, most of the variation on the upstream side reflects own production capability rather than network purchases from input suppliers. Third, most of the variance in the network components of firm size is determined by the number of buyers and suppliers and the allocation of activity towards well-matched partners of high quality, rather than by average partner capability.
The speaker will present a paper which proposes a new channel to explain the medium- to long-term effects of banking crises on the real economy. It embeds a banking sector prone to runs in a stylized growth model to show that episodes of bank distress affect not only the volume, but also the composition of firm investment, by disproportionally decreasing investments in innovation. This hypothesis is confirmed empirically employing industry-level data on R&D spending around 13 recent banking crises episodes.
Using difference-in-difference identification strategies, the author shows that industries that depend more on external finance, in more bank-based economies, invest disproportionally less in R&D following systemic banking crises. These industries also have a lower share of R&D spending in total investment, suggesting a shift in the composition of investment that is specific to recessions following banking crises and not other business cycle recessions.
Oana Peia is an assistant professor in the School of Economics at University College Dublin. She has a PhD in Economics from ESSEC Business School and THEMA University of Cergy-Pontoise. Her research is at the intersection of finance and macroeconomics with an emphasis on the role that financial intermediaries play in the real economy with research interests that include financial crises, economic growth, global games and time series econometrics. Her work has won the 2016 Olga Radzyner Award from the National Bank of Austria and her PhD won the best thesis prize from the Banque de France Foundation for Monetary, Financial and Banking Economic Research.
‘Hours worked around the world – facts and driving forces’
Hours worked used to be higher in Europe than in the US at the end of WWII, but nowadays Europeans work on average substantially fewer hours than their American counterparts. Moreover, there is substantial variation across European countries: While British adults work on average 1180 hours per year, Germans work 1110 hours, and Italians only 900 hours. What factors contribute to these hours differences across countries? Which groups exhibit the largest differences? And how do hours worked in the poorest countries of the world compare to those in the industrialized countries? The lecture will present new facts on hours worked differences across countries, and analyze their driving forces.
London, United Kingdom
Multinational firms are associated with new technologies and advanced organisational know-how which could potentially generate positive effects on the performance of domestic firms. The speakers will present recent research-based international and Irish evidence on the main channels for knowledge spillovers from multinationals and their effects on the productivity and trade performance of domestic firms. On the basis of this evidence, the speakers will discuss implications for policies aimed at enhancing the diffusion of new knowledge and technologies from multinationals to domestic firms.
Dr Iulia Siedschlag is Associate Research Professor at the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and Adjunct Professor at the Department of Economics, Trinity College Dublin. She leads the ESRI’s research programme on Internationalisation and Competitiveness. Iulia has published widely in peer-reviewed international journals and books, especially on international trade, foreign direct investment, innovation, productivity and economic growth in Ireland and other European Union countries. She has been awarded a significant number of research grants from international and national organisations and has successfully led a large number of international research consortia involving research institutes and universities from Europe. Iulia has been appointed to numerous Expert Groups and provided policy advice to national and international organisations including the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Asian Development Bank Institute, the International Labour Organization, and the World Economic Forum.
Dr Mattia Di Ubaldo is Research Fellow at the University of Sussex, United Kingdom, and Research Affiliate at the ESRI. His research areas are international trade, the economics of innovation, industrial economics and applied econometrics.
When children start going to school, parents save money or time or both and this can affect their labor supply. For parents who do not work fulltime, labor supply is expected to increase when their youngest child starts school, as they spend less time caring for their children. At the same time, the labor supply of working parents may decrease because they spend less money on child care. In this paper, we examine the trade-off between leisure, work and childcare when children start school. We derive predictions using a stylized model of the labor supply of mothers. Using detailed administrative data on all parents from the Netherlands, where children start school (kindergarten) for approximately 20 hours a week when they turn 4 years old, we show that mothers’ labor supply increases by 2 to 3% when their youngest child starts going to school. The effect of additional time dominates the income effect.
The Hague, Netherlands
We study how employees learn about the salaries of their peers and managers, and how those beliefs affect their own behavior. We conducted a field experiment with a sample of 2,000 employees from a multi-billion-dollar corporation. We combine rich data from surveys and administrative records with an experiment that provided some employees with accurate information about the salaries of others. First, we document large misperceptions about salaries and identify some of the sources of these misperceptions. Second, we find significant behavioral elasticities with respect to the perceived salaries of other employees. These effects are different for horizontal and vertical comparisons: while higher perceived peer salary decreases effort, output and retention, higher perceived manager salary has a positive effect on those same outcomes. We discuss evidence on the underlying mechanisms, and implications for pay inequality and pay transparency.
LISER together with many partners in Luxembourg co-organizes the following lecture.
The connection between the European Identity and inequality presents a puzzle. This talk examines whether the answer to the puzzle is to be found in the facts about income and wealth distribution, or in European attitudes to distributional fairness, or in the connections between European citizens’ preferences for redistribution and their own national ties.
LISER together with many partners in Luxembourg co-organizes the following lecture.
Until recently, surnames for men in most societies were inherited from their fathers. In this talk I show how we can use this fact, and the information content in surnames, to reveal surprising results about the nature and mechanisms of social mobility. In particular surnames reveal that social mobility rates are much lower than conventionally estimated, and hence inequalities greater. Surnames also can offer surprising insights into the sources of regional inequalities in economic outcomes. They suggest, for example, that regional disparities in modern England are entirely the product of selective migration of economic talent within England over the past 200 years.