Current research projects

September 2019

In this study, I analyze the relationship between individualism and preferences for income redistribution and equality, using variation in immigrants' countries of origin to capture the impact of cultural beliefs on individual preferences. Using global survey data for a large number of individuals and countries around the world, I find strong support for the hypothesis that coming from a more individualistic culture is negatively and significantly associated with an individual's preferences for redistribution. The results are confirmed using a variety of robustness checks, including matching estimators and the grammatical rule of a pronoun drop as an instrumental variable. Cultural assimilation analysis, however, indicates that the impact of the cultural origin weakens off with time spent in the new country, and that the culture of origin has no statistically significant effect on an individual's current preferences for redistribution if migration took place before the age of 10.

with Daniel Waldenström, conditionally accepted Economic Journal, July 2019

We estimate trends in global earnings dispersion across occupational groups by constructing a new database that covers 68 developed and developing countries between 1970 and 2018. Our main finding is that global earnings inequality has fallen, primarily during the 2000s and 2010s, when the global Gini coefficient dropped by 15 points and the earnings share of the world's poorest half doubled. Decomposition analyses show earnings convergence between countries and within occupations, while within-country earnings inequality has increased. Moreover, the falling global inequality trend was driven mainly by real wage growth, rather than changes in hours worked, taxes or occupational employment.

"Distributional National Accounts in the Welfare State: Sweden, 1930-2016"

with Sebastian Escobar, Daniel Waldenström and Gabriel Zucman

This paper presents new evidence on the evolution of income and wealth inequality in Sweden since 1930. The basis for the analysis is the distributional national accounts (DINA) methodology and to match individual register data with macroeconomic totals from the national accounts and thereby compute new estimates of pre- and post-tax/transfer distributions of income and wealth in Sweden. The paper makes several contributions to the literature on income and wealth distribution. It is the first paper to apply the recent DINA methodology using full-population administrative registers that cover multi-decadal panels. This allows for an extensive scrutiny of a range of the assumptions and method approaches used in past DINA-studies of, e.g., inequality in the US and France. Furthermore, the paper will be the first one that studies the DINA series for a Scandinavian welfare state, Sweden, over its entire evolution since 1930.


with Katarzyna Burzynska, Journal of International Development 27(7): 1074-1097, 2015

We apply a panel of 331 microfinance institutions from 37 countries to investigate the relationship between social beliefs and microfinance financial performance over the period of 2003-2011. We find that microfinance institutions in countries with higher levels of trust and more collectivist culture have lower operating and default costs and charge lower interest rates. These results provide the first large cross‐country evidence that social beliefs are important determinants of microfinance performance.