Working Papers

The Melbourne Institute Working Papers Series presents the results of research projects undertaken by our academic staff.

Health Economics

Motivation and Competition in Health Care

Anthony Scott | Peter Sivey (2017)

Non-pecuniary sources of motivation are a strong feature of the health care sector and the impact of competitive incentives may be lower where pecuniary motivation is low. We test this hypothesis by measuring the marginal utility of income of physicians from a stated-choice experiment, and examining whether this measure influences the response of physicians to changes in competition on prices charged. We find that physicians exploit a lack of competition with higher prices only if they have a hi…

Economic and Social Disadvantage

Child Age and Gender Differences in Food Security in a Low-Income Inner-City Population

Robert A. Moffitt | David C. Ribar (2017)

A long literature in economics concerns itself with differential allocations of resources to different children within the family unit. In a study of approximately 1,500 very disadvantaged families with children in Boston, Chicago, and San Antonio from 1999 to 2005, significant differences in levels of food allocation, as measured by an indicator of food "insecurity", are found across children of different ages and genders. Using answers to unique survey questions for a specific child in the fam…

Economics of Education and Child Development

Unawareness and Selective Disclosure: The Effect of School Quality Information on Property Prices

John Haisken-DeNew | Syed Hasan | Nikhil Jha | Mathias Sinning (2017)

The Australian Government launched the My School website in 2010 to provide standardised information about the quality of schools to the Australian public. This paper combines data from this website with home sales data for the state of Victoria to estimate the effect of the publication of school quality information on property prices. We use a difference-indifference approach to estimate the causal effect of the release of information about high-quality and low-quality schools relative to mediu…


Estimating the Real Effects of Uncertainty Shocks at the Zero Lower Bound

Giovanni Caggiano | Efrem Castelnuovo | Giovanni Pellegrino (2017)

We employ a parsimonious nonlinear Interacted-VAR to examine whether the real effects of uncertainty shocks are greater when the economy is at the Zero Lower Bound. We find the contractionary effects of uncertainty shocks to be statistically larger when the ZLB is binding, with differences that are economically important. Our results are shown not to be driven by the contemporaneous occurrence of the Great Recession and high financial stress, and to be robust to different ways of modelling uncon…


Uncertainty and Monetary Policy in the US: A Journey into Non-Linear Territory

Giovanni Pellegrino (2017)

This paper estimates a non-linear Interacted VAR model to assess whether the real effects of monetary policy shocks are milder during times of high uncertainty. In a novel way, uncertainty, i.e., the conditioning indicator discriminating “high” and “low” uncertainty states, is modelled endogenously in the VAR and is found to reduce after an expansionary shock. Generalized Impulse Response Functions à la Koop, Pesaran and Potter (1996) suggest that monetary policy shocks are significantly less po…


Economic Policy Uncertainty and Unemployment in the United States: A Nonlinear Approach

Giovanni Caggiano | Efrem Castelnuovo | Juan Manuel Figueres (2017)

We model U.S. post-WWII monthly data with a Smooth Transition VAR model and study the effects of an unanticipated increase in economic policy uncertainty on unemployment in recessions and expansions. We find the response of unemployment to be statistically and economically larger in recessions. A state-contingent forecast error variance decomposition analysis confirms that the contribution of EPU shocks to the volatility of unemployment at business cycle frequencies is markedly larger in recessi…

Economic and Social Disadvantage | Health Economics | Household, Income and Labour Dynamics | Labour Economics and Social Policy

The Bilateral Relationship between Depressive Symptoms and Employment Status

Melisa Bubonya | Deborah A. Cobb-Clark | David C. Ribar (2017)

This paper analyzes the bilateral relationship between depressive symptoms and employment status. We find that severe depressive symptoms are partially a consequence of economic inactivity. The incidence of depressive symptoms is higher if individuals have been out of a job for an extended period. Men’s mental health falls as they exit the labor force, while women’s worsens only after they have been out of the labor force for a period of time. Entering unemployment is also associated with a subs…

Economic and Social Disadvantage

Women’s Homelessness: International Evidence on Causes, Consequences, Coping and Policies

Guy Johnson | David C. Ribar | Anna Zhu (2017)

This paper reviews international evidence regarding women’s homelessness. It discusses different definitions of homelessness and how women are frequently part of the “hidden homeless” population and less a part of the unsheltered homeless population. It also considers the data that are used to enumerate and study homeless people. The structural, personal, and random causes of homelessness are discussed, with evidence pointing to highly gendered patterns. The paper also describes the consequences…


Uncertainty and Monetary Policy in Good and Bad Times

Giovanni Caggiano | Efrem Castelnuovo | Gabriela Nodari (2017)

We investigate the role played by systematic monetary policy in tackling the real effects of uncertainty shocks in U.S. recessions and expansions. We model key indicators of the business cycle with a nonlinear VAR that allows for different dynamics in busts and booms. Uncertainty shocks are identified by focusing on historical events that are associated to jumps in financial volatility. Uncertainty shocks hitting in recessions are found to trigger a more abrupt drop and a faster recovery in real…

Household, Income and Labour Dynamics

The Structure of the Wage Gap for Temporary Workers: Evidence from Australian Panel Data

Inga Lass | Mark Wooden (2017)

This study uses panel data for Australia from the HILDA Survey to estimate the wage differential between workers in temporary jobs and workers in permanent jobs. Specifically, unconditional quantile regression methods with fixed effects are used to examine how this gap varies over the entire wages distribution. While fixed-term contract workers are on rates of pay that are similar to permanent workers, low-paid casual workers experience a wage penalty and high-paid casual workers a wage premium…

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