Economics Theses

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This collection is made up of doctoral and master theses by research, which have been received in accordance with university regulations.

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Now showing 1 - 5 of 6
  • Publication
    Essays on Labour and Migration Policy
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2022) ;
    0000-0001-8188-2786
    This thesis presents three essays that address policy-relevant issues in the field of labour economics and migration. While the essays are independent from each other, they offer policy conclusions based on empirical evidence and quasi-experimental designs. Through the lens of quantitive analysis, I investigate how these policies interacted with and affected their own complex environments. In the first chapter, I study how firing costs affect which firms create new jobs and which workers get hired. To identify a causal effect, I exploit two Italian reforms that decreased firing costs for firms above 15 employees, while leaving smaller firms unaffected. Using extensive linked employer-employee data covering the careers of 2.8 million workers, I show that new jobs that were created because of the reform are concentrated in low wage firms. Specifically, post-reform hires are made by firms that pay wages on average 3-7\% lower than firms hiring before the reforms were passed. On the contrary, I find only mild evidence that less productive workers get hired more easily following the reforms. Finally, the findings suggest that riskier matches become more common, as firms hire more employees they have never worked with before. These results are consistent with the idea that low-productivity firms are more burdened by firing costs, as they suffer from higher risk of firing workers. In addition, when firing costs are lower, both firms and workers can become less selective when forming a new match. The observed decrease in hiring job quality implies that new jobs are associated with a moderate decrease in entry-wage levels. In the second chapter -- co-authored with Benjamin Elsner -- we investigate the commonly expressed concern that immigration undermines social cohesion in receiving countries. We study the impact of immigration on several indicators of social cohesion based on a large and sudden immigration wave, namely the inflow of one million refugees and asylum seekers from Syria, Afghanistan and the Western Balkans to Germany in 2015. In a difference-in-differences design, we compare the attitudes of individuals in areas with large vs. small increases in refugee numbers before and after the inflow. We find that the inflow led to an increase in anti-immigrant sentiment but had no effect on broader indicators of social cohesion, such as general trust or perceived fairness. Moreover, based on data scraped from newspapers, we show that areas with larger increases in refugee numbers experienced a significant increase in anti-immigrant violence, which lasted for about two years. This effect is larger in areas with higher unemployment and greater support for right-wing parties. Finally, in the third chapter of this thesis, Diego Zambiasi and I address the consequences of international agreements aimed at restricting migration. Following migration flows of unprecedented dimensions since 2010, an increasing number of destination countries engaged in migration deals. These international agreements require transit countries to stop migrants in exchange for financial and logistical support by destination countries. We show that such an agreement between Italy and Libya affected the safety of migration routes as well as the decisions of migrants and human smugglers. This agreement outsourced search and rescue operations in the Mediterranean to the Libyan coast guard with the declared objective to prevent migrants from departing from Libya. Using a spatial difference-in-differences design, we show that externalizing border control and search and rescue operations to the Libyan coast guard made the Central Mediterranean Route deadlier. Furthermore, we provide suggestive evidence that migrants and human smugglers reacted to this policy by choosing to migrate through the Western Mediterranean route instead.
      25
  • Publication
    An Empirical Study of the impact of Turbulent Events, Trading Connections, and Policy Uncertainty on China's Interaction with Global Major Stock Markets
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2022)
    To better understand the role of China in the financial integration, this study attempts to empirically investigate the interactions between China and other major global economies in international stock markets. It consists of three papers to examine the impact of turbulent events, bilateral trade, and policy uncertainty on China’s interaction with major global stock markets. The first paper investigates the impact of the US-China Trade War on co-movements between US and Chinese stock markets. The results indicate that co-movements amongst mainland China, Hong Kong and US stock markets are positively affected by news releases and, after the official start of the trade war (6th July 2018), are enhanced significantly. More precisely, there is also empirical evidence of positive announcement effects in stock market co-movements between the US and mainland China in specific sectors (particularly, Industrials and Information Technology). For international investors, this evidence suggests that the US-China Trade War has reduced the benefit of portfolio diversification in managing risk. The second paper investigates stock market co-movement between China and its 12 trading partners in the Asia-Pacific region after the Global Financial Crisis (GFC). The empirical results show that recent events (specifically, the Shanghai stock market crash, the US-China tariff war, and the COVID-19 pandemic) have increased the incidences of contagion across stock markets in China and its trading partners. Moreover, bilateral trade and market similarities are major drivers of stock market co-movements between China and developed partners, as well as between China and emerging partners. Apart from country-pair-specific factors, common factors (such as the Chinese illiquidity pressure) also affect the co-movements between Chinese and its partners' stock markets during the full period of the study, as well as during the periods of turmoil. The regression results for contagion episodes are mixed. The third paper attempts to compare the impact of Chinese and US economic policy uncertainty (proxied by the EPU index) on the volatility of eleven major stock markets. Both daily and monthly data are utilized in this empirical research. The empirical results show that the impact of US EPU is reinforced at daily and monthly frequencies during the GFC, with European stock markets affected to a greater extent by the GFC. The rising influence of Chinese EPU after the GFC is observed at monthly frequency in several stock markets located in Asia and elsewhere. The dynamic pattern of spillovers from EPU indices to stock volatility suggests the dominant role of US EPU in most markets at daily frequency, and that the extent of spillovers is driven by turbulent events such as the financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic.
      21
  • Publication
    Essays on Crime and Migration
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2022)
    The monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force is an essential feature of the state. This concept, often overseen in our daily life, becomes apparent to those who break the law and are forced to abide by it. Despite sounding like an authoritarian feature, the monopoly of the use of force by the state allowed nations to prosper. If states experience growth, if contracts can be signed and if we can trust each other, we | at least partially| owe it to the monopoly that the state has over the legitimate use of physical force. Countless studies in economics have stressed the importance of the Rule of Law for economic growth, but it is very difficult to imagine a situation in which there is a Rule of Law without a monopoly of the use of physical force by the state. Unfortunately, managing the monopoly of the use of physical force is an extremely challenging task. In practice, policy makers have to decide which laws to pass and which policies to implement, who enforces them, how to enforce them and how to punish individuals who do not abide by them. For the past three to four decades policy makers have been helped by researchers in taking informed decisions about these topics through what is known as evidence-based policymaking. In this thesis I aim at producing policy-relevant evidence with respect to two of the most debated topics in the current policy debate: crime and migration. My analysis proceeds through three different essays, that are independent from each other, but are linked by a common theme: the use of data and quasi-experimental research designs to answer policy-relevant questions.
      32
  • Publication
    Assessing evidence of Cognitive Biases in the estimation of costs associated with the delivery of major road transport Infrastructure Projects in Ireland
    (University College Dublin. Graduate School - Social Sciences and Law, 2022) ;
    0000-0001-8738-8439
    This dissertation has examined if cognitive biases have had an impact on the accuracy and reliability of cost estimates and forecasts produced for road transport projects in Ireland. The bias which is believed to have the most effect on cost forecasts is that of overconfidence and is generally referred to as optimism bias. This overconfidence may lead to risk and other project costs being underestimated. The focus of this research is on the construction cost forecasts for road transport projects which have been delivered by the National Roads Authority (NRA) in Ireland. A review of the literature associated with cost overruns and optimism bias has been undertaken. This review has shown that overconfidence by project managers can be mitigated and offset by several means using relevant historical data from completed projects. The dissertation has analysed both quantitative and qualitative data to determine if cost forecasts and budgets are exceeded at the completion stage and has examined the causal factors for these cost increases. A new detailed coding framework has been developed to analyse and assess cost management issues and the causal factors associated with additional or increased costs. The results of the quantitative analysis have not indicated any evidence of systematic cost overruns. The risk contingencies applied have been found to be appropriate to these types of projects. Most of the risks which materialised during the construction stage were known and could be assessed using statistical probability. The qualitative data and analysis give an insight into the ‘actuality’ of project delivery and describe the many reasons why costs can change over the full lifecycle of a road transport project.
      41
  • Publication
    Integrating the asylum population and migrants into the labour market
    (University College Dublin. School of Economics, 2020) ;
    0000-0002-7291-8772
    My dissertation covers topics in the economics of migration and labour economics. I present three papers focusing on the returns to human capital of a disadvantaged population – asylum seekers and refugees – utilising a unique administrative dataset in Switzerland. The first paper investigates the bounds on employment and wage gaps between the asylum population and economic migrants. Despite the two populations sharing many similar observable characteristics, they leave their home countries for different reasons and they are treated differently upon arrival in Switzerland. Utilizing assumptions about the ratio of selection between unobservable and observable characteristics, I find that the outcome gaps persist over time. The negative selection into employment of asylum populations is an important determinant of the labour-market differences. The second paper studies the influence of linguistic proximity on labour-market integration. Exploiting the random assignment of asylum seekers to location in Switzerland, I compare outcomes of asylum seekers from different countries. Using a precise linguistic measure, I estimate the effect of phonetic similarities by language region. My findings suggest that linguistic proximity plays an important role in obtaining employment in the Romance (French and Italian) region, especially for the earlier arrival cohorts. I also find that the positive employment effect in the German region is likely attributed to selection. In the third paper, I examine the impact of waiting time to permit decisions on labour-market outcomes of the asylum population. Although asylum seekers can work during the waiting phase, the refugee status secures greater access to the labour-market through reduced restrictions to the types of occupations and residential location. Exploiting differences in the timing of granting residence permits, I present new evidence that the relative length of stay to waiting time is key to understanding the integration trajectory. Different from previous work, I find no discernible impact of the absolute years of waiting time on labour-market integration.
      104