Why computers have been a double-edged sword for the labor market
The online-platform U.S. News interviewed Professor David Dorn for their article on the profound impact computers have in the labor market. Dorn explains that by substituting human labor in a wide range of clerical jobs through computers, not only the share of production employment but also the share in the overall employment of clerical occupations is declining since the 1980s. The U.S. government expects to see an 8 percent decline in the bookkeeping, accounting and auditing clerk industry sector between 2014 and 2024.
Fabrizio Zilibotti on Italy's risk of falling into chaos
2016-07-23 Italy is at risk of falling into chaos, Fabrizio Zilibotti summarizes the current situation of our southern neighbour. Although President Matteo Renzi has already implemented an impressive number of reforms for economic recovery in his relatively short term in office, three roadblocks are threatening their success: Reform of the political institutions, a potential Italian banking crisis and the luring but dangerous promises of the Movimento Cinques Stelle.
Read the article (in German)
Wage inequality and concentration of wealth
2016-07-14: In two interviews published today, David Dorn explains why wage inequality remains lower in Switzerland than in other European countries and how the share of income generated by labor has steadily decreased over the last 20 years. He also points to weaknesses of the available data and interpretation of the figures: E.g. Pension Funds, which represent a significant share of their individual wealth for many people in Switzerland, are not included in wealth statistics. Read the interviews (in German).
Hannes Schwandt on the myths and realities of midlife crisis
2016-07-08 The weekly transmission Falò on the Swiss Italian TV RSI explores the myths and realities of midlife crisis. Hannes Schwandt talks to the program about his research on the u-shape of life satisfaction and the roots of midlife crisis, explaining how it affects the majority of people.
Watch the transmission in Italian
Damian Kozbur appointed Assistant Professor
2016-07-06 Damian Kozbur was appointed Assistant Professor of Econometrics by the Board of the University on July 4, 2016. He will join the Department on August 1st. Damian Kozbur holds a PhD in Econometrics and Statistics from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Before joining the Department of Economics, he was a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Law and Economics at ETH Zurich. His research focuses on inference in high dimensional econometric models, big data and the applications of econometrics in development. Welcome Damian Kozbur!
Promotion Prof. Dr. Philippe Tobler
2016-07-01: Prof. Dr. Philippe Tobler, born. 1972, has been appointed Associate Professor for Neuroeconomics and Social Neuroscience by the Board of the University. Prof. Tobler studied at the University of Berne and attained a Master in Experimental Psychology in 1998. He received his PhD in 2004 from the University of Cambridge and spent the next years as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Cambridge and as a Research Fellow at the University of Oxford. Prof. Tobler joined the Department of Economics in 2010 as a SNSF Assistant Professor. Between 2010 and 2013 Prof. Tobler also held a role as Associate Professor in the Finance Department at Tilburg University.
Rainer Winkelmann elected member to the Academia Europaea
2016-06-27: Rainer Winkelman has been elected as a member to the Academia Europaea. The Academia seeks to promote a wide appreciation of the value and importance of scholarship in Europe and provides advice to European institutions concerning matters affecting science, scholarship and academic life in Europe. It consists of nominated eminent scientists and scholars. With the election of Professor Winkelmann the Department of Economics now has two appointed members in the Academia Europaea. Congratulations!
Go to website
Prof. Rainer Winkelmann awarded the 2016 Felix Büchel Prize
2016-06-23: Professor Winkelmann was awarded the 2016 Felix Büchel Prize by the German Institute for Economic Research (DIW). This prize is handed out to scientists for outstanding usage of the SOEP (German Socio-Economic Panel) data, one of the leading longitudinal household surveys worldwide. Rainer Winkelmann was awarded the prize for his longstanding work with the data resulting in a number of highly cited publications, as well as for his active part in promoting SOEP's future development, as a member and chairman of the panel's advisory board since 2010. (Photo by A.Gutzler)
Swiss Theory Day
2016-06-07: The Department of Economics held the Swiss Theory Day on June 7, 2016. More than 20 Graduate Students, Post-Docs and Professors from across Switzerland came to Zurich for an intense day of ongoing research in microeconomic theory. The event offers early stage researchers a platform to present and discuss their research with more senior scientists and Professors. The Swiss Theory Day is a successor of the Zurich-Basel Workshop and a result of the growing interest and need for such platforms.
2016-06-06: The graduation ceremonies for the students of the Faculty of Business, Economics and Informatics took place on May 25, 2016 and June 1, 2016. This term 42 students from the Department of Economics received their BA diploma, 37 their MA and four their PhD degree. Congratulations to all recipients.
How index funds outsmart antitrust laws
2016-06-04: In this edition of Finanz und Wirtschaft Professor Voth discusses how index funds are becoming increasingly powerful market forces undermining antitrust regulations. He argues that, given the structure of their portfolios and their influence on multiple companies within an industry, a monopolistic situation is created. Data from various industries confirm this: index funds with such market power assert their interests leading to higher prices than in comparable situations.
Full Article in FuW (PDF, 198 KB) (German)
Promotion Prof. Dr. Björn Bartling
2016-06-01: Prof. Dr. Björn Bartling, born. 1974, has been appointed Professor ad personam for Behavioral and Experimental Economics by the Board of the University. Prof. Bartling studied Economics at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich (LMU) and at the London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2004 he attained his PhD from LMU. He spent the next years as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Department of Economics at Harvard University and at the LMU. Prof. Bartling joined the Department of Economics in 2007 as a Senior Research Assistant and was promoted to Assistant Professor in 2011.
National Debt is Harmful
2016-05-30: In their current discourse on optimal levels of national debt, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) discusses the work of Christoph Winter. Winter argues that if wealth and earnings inequality are appropriately taken into account, national debt turns out to be harmful.
Read more (German)
Enough work to go around
2016-05-25: David Dorn discusses changes in the national and international labor market with Brigitta Bernet, an economic historian, in the current edition of the UZH Magazin. Technological progress changes the needs of the workplace and has been a worry to employees for centuries. Prof. Dorn points out that cheaper products allow for more consumption of other services, increasing the demand for jobs which cannot be automated, e.g. childcare. He also argues that, on a global scale, digitalization and automation has helped to decrease income disparity during the last decade.
Fairness Norms vs Market Forces
2016-05-25: In the current edition of the UZH Magazin, Björn Bartling compares fairness considerations in market transactions between Swiss and Chinese students. Whereas both cultures share a very similar understanding of fairness as a moral norm in non-market contexts, they differ in their behaviour in market situations. The social norm of fairness holds stronger against the market forces for Swiss students, leading to fairer transactions. Chinese students are more willing to accept unfairness generated by market interactions.
Ernst Fehr awarded for his pioneering contributions to Economics and Psychology
2016-05-20: On May 19, 2016, The ÖAW (Austrian Academy of Science) awarded memberships to 26 international scientists for their outstanding scholarly contribution and reputation. Ernst Fehr was distinguished for his pioneering contributions in the fields of Economics and Psychology as well as Experimental Economics. According to the academy his interdisciplinary approach has significantly advanced the understanding of human behaviour.
Chinese imports have changed the American labor market
2016-05-22: In this recent interview with the NZZ am Sonntag, David Dorn explains how Chinese imports have changed the American labor market, and along with it, the political climate with implications for the candidates currently running for presidency. He estimates that a quarter of recent job-losses in the US can be attributed to cheap imports from China, jobs that cannot easily be replaced. The effects of international trade agreements depend strongly on the set up of the domestic production market - Dorn argues that the Swiss labor market, producing specialized, high value and luxury goods, is not as strongly affected by these imports.
The plight of middle-aged white men
2016-05-14: The lead article in the United States section of the current edition of The Economist discusses the findings from two recent papers by Hannes Schwandt and presents a differentiated view on the mortality rates by age, race and affluence. While middle-aged white men have higher mortality rates than they did at the end of the last century, among the young—and particularly among young men—the biggest declines in mortality have been seen in the poorest places, usually with a higher ratio of black residents.
The gravedigger of homo oeconomicus
2016-05-14: His simple experiments have brought him fame and a great deal of influence. However, the star economist of the University of Zurich, Ernst Fehr, wanted to deal with fairness in particular.
Influence? Of course, influence is important to Fehr, very much in fact. Anything else would be dishonest, he finds. It is a basic human need for your work to have an effect. This can even be seen in small children. For example, when they insist on pushing the buttons in an elevator and thus drive the adults to exasperation.
Unconditional Basic Income
2016-04-06: In view of the upcoming vote on the basic income referendum on June 5th, Fabrizio Zilibotti discusses the challenges of finding redistribution mechanisms that avoid the loss of collective resources and limit opportunistic behavior undermining the foundations of the modern welfare state. Listen to the full talk from Radio RSI (in Italian).
Inequality and Growth
2016-04-26: Fabrizio Zilibotti wrote an article on how increasing inequality could endanger future growth as it weakens social cohesion and creates a foundation for harmful political currents. However, he notes, there is no clear-cut answer to the effects of inequality. Whereas some European countries known for their equality show higher innovation and growth than less equal ones, the US, with high inequality, also has very high innovation rates.
Mortality rate of poor children in the US is in decline
2016-04-22: Wealthier individuals have lower mortality rates at all ages than poorer people. The common assumption that this effect has intensified in recent years is rebutted in a recent study by Hannes Schwandt, published in the current edition of Science. Instead of examining life expectancy at birth, he looks at the mortality rates by age groups in different counties in the USA.
This more discerning look at the mortality rates shows quite positive trends. Between 1990 and 2010, the differences in the survival chances of children and young adults from different regions in the USA decreased. Nowadays, disadvantaged children have much better survival chances and are coming closer to the mortality rates of wealthier children.
|Science Article (online)||Washington Post Article (English)|
|Press Release UZH (German)||The Atlantic Article (English)|
|Press Release UZH (English)|
Impressive Effects Achieved by Training Working Memory of Children
2016-04-02 Most learning difficulties stem from weaknesses in the working memory. In this article, Ernst Fehr presents the promising findings from a field research project during which schoolchildren played a customized memory game on the computer for one lesson a day. The positive effects on concentration, visual imagination and impulse control could still be measured 12 months after the experimental phase.
Ernst Fehr in the Sonntagszeitung
2016-03-20: 'People who choose to study economy do so because they want to make the world a better place. They have the methodology and models to comprehend the overall economic context and bring objectivity into the political discussion', Professor Fehr argues on behalf of the economist's guild. 'However', he adds, 'their vantage-point can leave them biased towards efficiency and neglecting the societal importance of fairness in distribution mechanisms'. Read the whole interview (in German)...
Macroeconomic Theory under Scrutiny
2016-03-13: How do you teach macroeconmics when the markets aren't behaving as the theory predicts? Do we need to throw our existing models overboard, or just tweak them to incorporate the realities we are experiencing? The NZZ am Sonntag presents the situation and talks to Professor Hoffmann about these exciting times for macroeconomists. (Article in German)
Why Fairness is Important
2016-03-10: Ernst Fehr talks about the importance of fairness and taking a long-term view on political, societal and economic developments as well as the challenges of macroeconomic theory today. The interview also covers the possibilities of performance compensation and incentives which circumvent short term thinking. Read the tour d'horizon...
Brain connectivity reveals hidden motives
2016-03-05: Often, it is hard to understand why people behave the way they do, because their true motives remain hidden. A team around Grit Hein and Ernst Fehr have now shown how peoples’ motives are characterized by a specific interplay between different brain regions and how this interplay allows precise classification of the motives underlying a shown behavior. Research Paper published in Science.
David Dorn explains how free trade with China harmed the lives of U.S. workers
A big-shot venture capitalist says we need inequality. What do economists say?
2016-01-14: At the the annual conference of the American Economic Association in San Francisco, a group of five economists, including Philippe Aghion of College de France and David Hémous of the University of Zurich, unveiled a study that speaks directly to the Silicon Valley effect on inequality. They looked at levels of innovation (as measured by a particular kind of patent production) across individual states over time. They found a significant relationship between increased innovation in a state and the increased income share of the top 1 percent of earners in the state.
Should cable television channels be offered à la carte?
2015-01-11: It’s easy to see why à la carte catches policymakers’ interest. Prices for cable service have risen far faster than inflation for decades, even on a quality-adjusted basis, and in 2011 averaged almost $57.50 for the most popular bundle, despite the nominal growth of competition from satellite and telephone company entrants. Gregory Crawford (UZH) and Ali Yurukoglu (Stanford) take a fresh look at this question by drawing upon insights from two literatures in economics.