Research interest: My main research interests lie at the frontier between urban economics and public finance. The research I have conducted so far has focused on understanding how to design spatial policies to ensure efficiency, while preserving a fair and equitable access for all.
Fields of interest: Applied Microeconomics, with focus on Urban Economics and Public Finance.
Lockdown and Voting Behavior: A Natural Experiment on Postponed Elections during the COVID-19 Pandemic (With Tommaso Giommoni), Economic Policy, 2022.
Local Border Reforms and Economic Activity (with Peter Egger and Marko Koethenbuerger), Journal of Economic Geography, 2022.
Natural City Growth in the People's Republic of China (with Peter Egger and Nicole Pueschel), Asian Development Review, 2017.
R&R at The Economic Journal
Abstract: This paper studies the performance of New Towns, i.e., planned large urban subcenters, as a central tool to accommodate the global rise in urbanization. A spatial quantifiable general equilibrium framework suitable to study large-scale urban master plans is presented. The framework is then used to investigate the equilibrium effects of five New Towns developed in the 1970s in Paris’ metropolitan area. By 2015, these developments appear to have increased metropolitan GDP, reduced commuting times and reduced income inequality. The results obtained for Paris’ metropolitan area are externally validated by a reduced form – Difference-in-Difference Event Study – approach on all 314 New Towns developed worldwide between 1992 and 2012.
Locating Public Facilities: Theory and Micro Evidence from Paris, CESifo Working Paper, 2021. [WP version, March 2021]
R&R at the Journal of Urban Economics.
Abstract: This paper proposes a novel approach to evaluate location decisions for public facilities. The approach addresses, not only the standard distance-minimizing problem, but also the endogenous location decisions of individuals. To do so, I develop a quantifiable general equilibrium model with endogenous (residential and commercial) densities, housing prices, commutes to work and public facilities, as well as public facility characteristics. The latter includes a facility’s location, quality, district and capacity. I apply the framework to secondary schools in Paris’ greater region at a 1km2 geographical scale. The analysis reveals that the observed location decisions made between 2001 and 2015 underestimate the endogenous reaction of individuals. A more decentralized strategy is predicted to increase welfare growth by 10 percentage points on average, mostly via shorter commutes and lower housing prices.
Regional Borders, Commuting and Transport Network Integration, KOF Working Paper, 2020. [WP version, Dec 2020]
R&R at The Review of Economics and Statistics.
Abstract: I study how and why economic activity varies around regional borders. Spatial quasi-experimental variation around French departmental borders reveals discontinuous commuting and residential patterns. To tackle the endogenous border placement problem, I exploit a geometric border design proposed during the French Revolution. I then calibrate a spatial quantifiable general equilibrium framework to structurally match the quasi-experimental estimates. The commuting and residential discontinuities are well explained by a 7km bilateral distance penalty when crossing regional borders, which is the consequence of the decentralized planning and development of local transport networks. Policy simulation shows that integrating local transport networks leads to a 11.7% average growth in real per capita residential income.
China's Dazzling Transport-Infrastructure Growth: Measurement and Effects (With Peter Egger and Nicole Loumeau), CEPR Discussion Paper, 2020. [WP version, Oct 2020]
R&R at the Journal of International Economics.
VOX and Media coverage: [VOX EU column]
Abstract: We document an unprecedented change in the size and the quality of China's transport-infrastructure network between 2000 and 2013. This documentation is based on hand-collected and digitized data on roads and railways. The changes are summarized and portrayed as shortest-possible transport times of people and goods between 330 prefectures of mainland China. A quantitative model of China's prefectures and a Rest of the World, featuring both goods trade and migration, suggests that the long-run consequences of the transport-infrastructure changes induce regional convergence of lagging-behind prefectures in terms of population density and, to a lesser extent, in terms of real per-capita income. Not only changes in highway and high-speed-railway networks but also ones in lower-level road and railway networks are quantitatively important. Key drivers behind the effects are the facilitation of goods transport as well as technology diffusion, while the reduction of mobility costs and the diffusion of amenities appear less important.
Fiscal Autonomy and Self-Determination (with Christian Stettler), CESifo Working paper No. 9445. [WP version, Dec 2021]
Abstract: This paper studies the equilibrium effects of local fiscal autonomy accounting for benefits from self-determination. It proposes a quantifiable structural equilibrium framework in which imperfectly mobile heterogeneous households sort themselves across jurisdictions under endogenous public good provision. We calibrate the framework to fit the economic and geographic characteristics of the Canton of Bern using household-level data. In particular, we exploit quasi-natural policy variation in voting rights to quantify benefits from self-determination, and employ machine learning methods to accurately represent the local political process. We find that restricting local fiscal autonomy decreases welfare for (almost) all households.
Work in progress:
The Flypaper Effect in Municipal Finance (with Marko Koethenbuerger)
Taxation with a Grain of Salt: The Long-Term Effect of Taxation on Local Development (with Tommaso Giommoni)
High-Speed Rail and Second-Hand Gentrification (with Antonio Russo)
Regional Economics (Master/Certificate of Advanced Studies), Sole-lecturer, University of Zurich (2022)
Urban Systems and Transportation (Graduate), Sole-lecturer, ETH Zurich (2019, 2020, 2021) [Course description]
Public Economics (Graduate), Co-lecturer, ETH Zurich (2016, 2017, 2018, 2019) [Course description]
Advanced Microeconomics (Graduate), Teaching assistant, University of Bayreuth (2013, 2014)
Presentations at Conferences, Workshops and Seminars:
2021: Swiss Network on Public Economics (Zurich), European Meeting of the UEA (Copenhagen), CESifo Area Conference on Public Economics (Munich)
2020: Seminar RITM (Paris-Saclay), Swiss Workshop on Local Public Finance and Regional Economics (Bern), Seminar on local public economics (Dijon), CESifo Area Conference on Public Economics (Munich)
2019: Public Policies, Cities and Regions Workshop (Lyon), European Meeting of the UEA (Amsterdam)
2018: Workshop on Public Policy Evaluation (Paris), 5th Urban Economics Workshop (Barcelona), Journées LAGV (Aix-en-Provence), Public Economics Research Seminar (Munich), IIPF Annual Congress (Tampere), 33rd Annual Congress of the EEA (Cologne)
2017: Workshop on Political Economy and Fiscal Federalism (Barcelona), European Meeting of the UEA (Copenhagen), 7th ifo Dresden Workshop on Regional Economics (Dresden)
2016: European Congress of the Regional Science Association International (Vienna), Journées LAGV (Aix-en-Provence), ZEW Public Finance Conference (Mannheim), YSEM (Zurich)
2015: 9th Norvegian-German Seminar on Public Economics (Munich), 6th Synergia Workshop (Lugano)