Publications

Link to my Google Scholar site.

For a compact list of all my publications and academic output, please click here.

Peer-Reviewed Publications

7. Does A Progressive Wealth Tax Reduce Top Wealth Inequality? Evidence from Switzerland

Joint with Samira Marti and Florian Scheuer
Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Vol 39(3) (Autumn 2023), pp. 513-529. Special issue Taxing the Rich (More), edited by İrem Güçeri and Joel Slemrod.EU Tax Observatory Working Paper No. 13 (March 2023).
Abstract: Like in many other countries, wealth inequality has increased in Switzerland over the last fifty years. By providing new evidence on cantonal top wealth shares for each of the 26 cantons since 1969, we show that the overall trend masks striking differences across cantons, both in levels and trends. Combining this with variation in cantonal wealth taxes, we then estimate an event study model to identify the dynamic effects of reforms to top wealth tax rates on the subsequent evolution of wealth concentration. Our results imply that a reduction in the top marginal wealth tax rate by 0.1 percentage points increases the top 1% (0.1%) wealth share by .9 (1.2) percentage points five years after the reform. This suggests that wealth tax cuts over the last 50 years explain roughly 18% (25%) of the increase in wealth concentration among the top 1% (0.1%).
Funding: SNSF Project Grant 176458 "The influence of Taxation on Wealth and Income Inequality -- Long-Run Evidence from the Swiss Cantons"
Abstract: We estimate the ratio of private wealth to national income, β, for Switzerland from 1900 to 2020. Our results indicate that over the 20th century, β did not follow a U-shaped pattern as in most European countries. Instead, it was exceptionally stable at around 500%. We argue that this consistently high β was the result of geopolitical factors combined with Switzerland’s capital friendly policymaking. Since the turn of the century, however, β has been on a rapid rise to reach 793% in 2020. This considerable increase is mainly driven by large capital gains, especially in housing wealth.
Media coverage: Sonntagszeitung, Der Bund / Tamedia, Weltwoche, Ökonomenstimme (summary of the paper in German).
Previous versions: A previous version circulated under the name "A Safe Harbor: Wealth-Income Ratios in Switzerland over the 20th Century and the Role of Housing Prices" as KOF Working Paper No. 487 (October 2021). 
Funding: SNSF Project Grant 176458 "The influence of Taxation on Wealth and Income Inequality -- Long-Run Evidence from the Swiss Cantons"
Abstract: I analyze mobility responses to a tax reform that established the Swiss canton of Obwalden as a tax haven in 2006. The reform, which included a regressive income tax schedule, was explicitly aimed at attracting the top 1%. Difference-in-Differences (DiD) estimations comparing Obwalden to all other cantons confirm that the reform successfully attracted high-income taxpayers: by 2016, the share of top earners in the canton had doubled, and average income per taxpayer was 16% higher relative to 2005. Based on individual tax return data, I estimate the mobility elasticity with a two-stage least squares (2SLS) approach, which isolates the identifying variation in the tax rate stemming from the 2006 reform only. I find a large elasticity of the stock of high-income taxpayers of 1.5–2 with respect to the net-of- average-tax rate. The corresponding flow elasticity is 7.2. Despite these large behavioral responses, the reform did not increase revenue per capita in the canton. Finally, I find small positive effects on local employment. However, in-movers with high incomes were not more likely to also work in the canton, and I cannot rule out that employment effects were driven by the simultaneous reduction in corporate income taxes.
Media coverage: Sonntagszeitung; summary written for Vox.eu. The Welsh Government uses the estimates from the paper in their "Welsh rates of Income Tax ready reckoner", which shows the effect of changes to the Welsh rates on devolved income tax revenues.
Previous versions: CEPR Discussion Paper No. 16627 (updated April 2022). A previous version circulated under the name  "Beggar-Thy-Neighbour Tax Cuts: Mobility after a Local Income and Wealth Tax Reform in Switzerland"
Replication files: code, README
Funding: SNSF Doc.Mobility Grant 158823 "Tax-Induced Mobility and the Taxable Income Elasticity in Switzerland"

4. Evidence from Unique Swiss Tax Data on the Composition and Joint Distribution of Income and Wealth


NBER Studies in Income and Wealth (Vol. 80, Chapter 4) Measuring Distribution and Mobility of Income and Wealth. Edited by Raj Chetty, John N. Friedman, Janet C. Gornick, Barry Johnson, and Arthur Kennickell. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2022. A working paper version with illustrations in color can be found here.
Abstract: I compose a unique, new data set using individual income and wealth tax data from eight Swiss cantons. I describe the data in detail and show that it is representative for Switzerland as a whole. Next, I present a set of empirical facts regarding the distribution of wealth and income in Switzerland. I shed light on the composition of wealth and income along the distribution, including the very top. I find substantial heterogeneity in the composition for different population groups. Real estate wealth is held only by the upper half of the wealth distribution. Most importantly, due to the strong age-wealth gradient, age has an important influence on the composition as well as on the joint distribution of income and wealth. At any income level except for the bottom quintile, retirees are more likely to be higher up in the wealth distribution than non-retirees—including at the very top of the wealth distribution. Overall, I find a strong correlation between income and wealth, combine with a pronounced tail dependence, especially at the top. Taking age into account, gender differences in wealth levels are small. They are more pronounced in the income distribution, where women also rely more on transfer income than on labor income compared to men.
This publication is part of a conference volume, the conference was held March 5–6, 2020, in Washington, DC.
Funding: SNSF Project Grant 176458 "The influence of Taxation on Wealth and Income Inequality -- Long-Run Evidence from the Swiss Cantons"

3. Obtaining Consistent Time Series from Google Trends

Joint with Vera Eichenauer, Ronald Indergand, and Christoph Sax
Economic Inquiry, Vol 60(2) (April 2022), pp.694-705. Accompanying R-package: trendecon. Project website: trendecon.org
Abstract: Google Trends have become a popular data source for social science research. We show that for small countries or sub-national regions like U.S. states, underlying sampling noise in Google Trends can be substantial. The data may therefore be unreliable for time series analysis and is furthermore frequency-inconsistent: daily data diers from weekly or monthly data. We provide a novel sampling technique along with the R-package trendecon in order to generate stable daily Google search results that are consistent with weekly and monthly queries of Google Trends. We use this new approach to construct long and consistent daily economic indices for the (mainly) German-speaking countries Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The resulting indices are significantly correlated with traditional leading indicators, with the advantage that they are available much earlier. 
Media coverage: Summary written for Ökonomenstimme.
Previous version: KOF Working Paper No. 484 (June 2020). 
Replication files: see R-package trendecon
Abstract: This paper estimates intertemporal labor supply responses to two-year long income tax holidays staggered across cantons in Switzerland. Swiss cantons shifted from an income tax system based on the previous two years' income to a standard annual pay as you earn system, leaving 2 years of income untaxed. We find significant but quantitatively small responses of earnings with an inter-temporal elasticity of .05 overall. Some groups, such as high wage income earners and especially the self-employed display larger responses with elasticities around .1 and .2 respectively. We find no effects along the extensive margin at all and almost no effects on hours of work suggesting that responses are driven primarily by tax avoidance rather than real labor supply.
Media coverage: Summaries written for VoxEU and Ökonomenstimme.
Previous versions: NBER Working Paper No. 24634 (revised July 2020), slides
Replication files: code.
Abstract: In the last 20 years, the share of top incomes in Switzerland has risen, while exhibiting large variations. Switzerland is similar to European countries for the top1% but closer to the U.S. for higher top income groups. With the synthetic control method we close a time gap in the tax data, exploiting the fact that Swiss cantons changed their tax system at different points in time. Using social security data which cover all top labor incomes, we document the growing importance of labor compared to capital incomes among top income earners in Switzerland.
Media coverage: NZZ am Sonntag (here, here, and here),  Die Volkswirtschaft, Handelszeitung, Le Temps, and Blick. Summaries written for voxEU, and Republik Magazin here and here.
Previous version:  working paper
Replication files: code and README. Data are available on WID.world (Updated until 2014). Online Appendix Tables.

Book Chapters



in: Denknetz Jahrbuch 2018. Bildung und Emanzipation. Zürich: edition 8, September 2018.

Non-Reviewed Publications / Policy Reports


8. Vermögen und Einkommen über den Lebenszyklus

Joint with Regina Pleninger.
KOF Analysen, Nr. 2021(3) 

7. Corona und Ungleichheit in der Schweiz - Eine erste Analyse der Verteilungswirkungen der Covid-19-Pandemie

Joint with Daniel Kopp, Rafael Lalive, Stefan Pichler, and Michael Siegenthaler.
KOF Studien, Nr. 161 (February 2021)
Featured, among others, in SRF Eco (TV-Interview here and here), Le Temps, Tagesanzeiger, Handelszeitung, Finanz und Wirtschft, Blick.

6. Inequality in Switzerland: A Haven of Stability? 

Joint with Reto Föllmi. pdf
CESifo Forum, 2/2018 (Summer 2018), pp. 19-25.

5. Die Verteilung von Einkommen und Vermögen in der Schweiz 

Joint with Reto Föllmi. pdf
UBS International Center of Economics in Society Public Paper, No. 6 (November 2017) 

4. Die Topeinkommen in der Schweiz seit 1980: Verteilung und Mobilität


Social Change in Switzerland, Nr.11 (November 2017). 

3. Cantonal Differences in Health Care Premium Subsidies in Switzerland” 

Joint with Berit Gerritzen and Alma Ramsden.
University of St. Gallen SEPS Working Paper No.14-20 (July 2014).

2. Bookreview on: ‘Methods for Quantitative Macro-Comparative Research’ by Salvatore Babones


Journal of World-Systems Research, Vol. 20(1) (March 2014). 
Joint with Daniel Lampart. 
SGB-Dossier, Nr. 65 (June 2009). 

Books


Joint with Daniel Lampart, Doris Bianchi and Gabriela Medici.
Zürich: Editions à la Carte, May 2011.