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Alex Catling



Articles by Alex Catling

Effects of vertical mergers in multichannel TV markets: evidence from regional sports programming

7 days ago

Summary

When producers of TV channels, such as Time Warner, and distributors of those channels, such as AT&T, are merged, what are the impacts on consumers, rival producers and rival distributors? Because ‘vertical integration’ of this kind can have both efficiency and anti-competitive effects, competition authorities and courts evaluating a prospective merger need to assess both the potential benefits and the potential harms to determine the overall welfare effects.

A team of economists has developed a new framework for doing just that, and used it to quantify welfare effects in the context of high-value sports content in the US cable and satellite TV

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When Fewer Options are Better for Consumers: The Benefits of Narrow Health Insurance Networks

September 9, 2019

Summary

Should health insurers be required to allow their enrollees to visit any hospital or doctor?  Many insurers limit enrollees to “in-network” medical providers, forcing them to pay significant “out-of-network” costs if they seek care elsewhere. Our research examines the role that limited medical provider networks play in the U.S. commercial healthcare market and measures both their impact on spending and their potential for consumer harm. We show that by excluding certain medical providers, particularly those that are low-quality or high-cost, insurers can obtain significant rate reductions when negotiating with hospitals. These reductions may then be partly passed along to consumers in the form

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Providing low-cost labor market information to assist jobseekers

August 14, 2019

Summary

People who are receiving unemployment benefits and looking for a job are typically required to consider occupations beyond their preferred line of work, at least after an initial period of joblessness. But how should jobseekers decide which occupations to consider, and how should employment agencies advise them?

A team of economists has developed a new tool to provide tailored advice to jobseekers at low cost. The tool is based on two alternative algorithms that identify potentially suitable occupations: one based on observed labor market transitions; the other drawing on O*NET, an online tool for career exploration and job analysis, which identifies

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Subsidizing health insurance for low-income adults: evidence from Massachusetts

July 24, 2019

Summary

How much are low-income individuals willing to pay for health insurance? And what are the implications for insurance market reforms that propose to change government subsidies? Using administrative data from the pioneer subsidized insurance exchange in Massachusetts over the period 2009 to 2013, this study exploits discontinuities in the premium subsidy schedule to estimate willingness to pay and costs of insurance among low-income adults. The researchers have three main findings.

Subsidies matter
Insurance take-up falls rapidly as subsidies decline. About 25% of the eligible population of low-income individuals drop coverage in response to a $40

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Understanding the Average Impact of Microcredit

July 17, 2019

Summary

The global microloan portfolio is now worth over 102 billion dollars and is growing yearly. This research estimates the impact of the policy and the extent to which this impact is different across different contexts. It finds that overall, the best existing evidence suggests that the average impact of these loans is small and that in the future, it may be beneficial to seek alternative approaches to improve the lives of poor households in the developing world.

Microcredit, the idea that giving small or “micro” loans to poor households in developing countries to help them escape poverty by starting or growing their own businesses, has become widely

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Nominal wage rigidity in village labor markets: evidence from India

July 1, 2019

Summary

Markets for daily wage labor in agriculture are ubiquitous in poor countries, providing employment for hundreds of millions of workers in India alone. In an exploration of how nominal wages in these markets respond to changing economic conditions, this research finds strong evidence of limited downward adjustment in the face of a negative shock, such as a drought.

A key part of the explanation for nominal wage rigidity lies in perceptions that wage cuts are unfair and reduce worker productivity. The study presented 396 agricultural laborers and employers in 34 villages across six districts in India with scenarios about wage-setting behavior, and asked

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Market power and the Laffer curve

June 18, 2019

Summary

Arthur Laffer, who was recently awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, is famous for sketching an inverted U-shaped diagram of the supposed trade-off between tax rates and tax revenues. The Laffer curve originates from the economist’s 1974 conversation with Wall Street Journal reporter Jude Wanniski, and politicians Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
During the meeting, Laffer is said to have argued that then President Ford’s proposed tax rise would actually reduce tax revenue collected. He demonstrated the effect by sketching the first Laffer curve on a napkin, a replica of which is in the archives of the National Museum of American History.

This

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