Research Projects

Job Market Paper

Did Globalization help Germany become cleaner? - The effect of increasing Import/Export Exposure on local air pollution at the German county level
Alexander Rohlf (Latest Version: 12/18/2017)
Presented at the EAERE Conference 2017 in Athens, the ECARES Seminar in Brussels (ULB) and the Bonn-Mannheim PhD Workshop 2017 (CDSE)

Abstract: I study whether the increase in trade relationships towards China and Eastern Europe allowed structural changes in Germany to reduce pollution concentrations in the air. The time frame under study are the years 1998 to 2008 that coincide with China's admission to the WTO in 2001 and the subsequent EU accession waves. I observe pollution concentration changes at the regional level for NO2, SO2 and PM10 and pair this data with changes in trade flows over the same time period. The constructed measures of export and import exposure per worker are available at the county level for 413 German counties and allow for a regression model in first differences that solves threats to identification through the use of exogenous variations in Chinese and Eastern European trade openness. I find positive effects of rising local import competition on environmental quality for NO2 and PM10 concentrations, which survive robustness checks such as weighting trade exposure by area or controlling for initial dirtiness. They are not entirely offset by the negligible effects of export opportunities towards China and the minor increases in pollution levels caused by export scaling with respect to Eastern Europe. Overall, this yields a net reduction of 0.07ug/m³ in average concentration levels for NO2 and of 0.24ug/m³ for PM10 as the emission impact of export opportunities is small in comparison to the savings from trade induced restructuring. These windfall effects of trade liberalization constitute an economically significant but minor fraction of the absolute trend reduction in both substances (~3 μg/m³) over the sample period.

Published Papers

The Effect of Emission Information on Housing Prices: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register
Kathrine von Graevenitz, Daniel Roemer, Alexander Rohlf (2016)
Environmental and Resource Economics, online since 27 September 2016

Abstract: In this paper, we study whether the release of pollutant emission information has an effect on housing prices. The event under study is the publication of the first wave of emission quantity data from the European Pollutant Release and Transfer Register in 2009. Our analysis is based on quarterly housing prices at the German postal code level for the years 2007–2011 and provides the first evidence from Europe on this research question. Estimating a differences-in-differences model and controlling for observable differences in land use, housing type distribution, tax revenues and other postal code area characteristics by means of propensity score matching, we find no significant effect of the release of emission information on the value of houses in affected postal code areas. This result survives a number of robustness checks designed to assess whether our findings are due to data aggregation issues or the actual treatment definition. This leads to the conclusion that on an aggregate level the 2009 publication of E-PRTR data did not have an immediate and noticeable effect on housing prices in Germany.

Working Papers

Detecting Shifts in US Monetary Policy before the Financial Crisis of 2008 - Taylor Rules, Breakpoint Tests and Narrative Evidence as Means of Evaluating US Monetary Policy
Alexander Rohlf (2014)

Research Project completed at the University of California, Berkeley

Abstract: This paper examines, whether a shift in US Monetary Policy can be detected using various specifications of the Taylor Rule and applying Quandt-Andrews Breakpoint Tests to ex-post and real time data. Using revised data, some weak evidence is found for a possible breakpoint in the first quarter of 2001 by conducting Breakpoint Tests with respect to standard specifications of the Taylor Rule including a smoothing parameter. This evidence is further reinforced by out-of-sample forecast exercises and narrative records. Replacing the data with real time data series constructed from the Greenbook series available to the members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) at the time of the decision making process, however, yields convincing evidence for a more consistent monetary policy. Breakpoint tests and out-of-sample forecasts fail to identify any significant shift in policy fundamentals. Instead, low inflation estimates and fears of deflation, which had to be severely revised later on, can be singled out as relevant factors creating additional incentives for the FED to cut interest rates in the time from 2001Q1 to 2004Q1.