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What are the determinants of investment in environmental R&D? [WP]

To face the challenges posed by climate change, environmental R&D and innovation are critical factors if we hope to cut emissions; yet, investment in environmental R&D remains below the social optimum. The aim of this paper is to analyse the determinants of investment in environmental innovation and to detect the differences, if any, with the determinants of investment in general innovation. R&D investment is one of the key variables for analysing the resources devoted to innovation; however, data constraints hamper the use of this variable when examining the drivers of eco-innovation. The literature reports that demand factors in general and collaboration with stakeholders play a crucial role in generating such investment. In addition, this paper similarly examines the relationship between environmental innovation R&D expenditure and a range of policy instruments, including environmental regulation and other policy measures including R&D subsidies and environmental taxes. The empirical analysis is carried out for 22 manufacturing sectors in Spain for the period 2008–2013. To overcome problems of data availability, we construct a comprehensive database from different surveys.
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Next train to the polycentric city: The effect of railroads on subcenter formation

Recent evidence reveals that transportation’s improvements within metropolitan areas have a clear effect on population and job decentralization processes. Yet, very little has been said on how these improvements affect the spatial organization of the economic activity in the suburbs. This paper analyses the effects of transportation’s changes on employment subcenters formation. Using data from metropolitan Paris between 1968 and 2010, we first show that rail network improvements cause the expected job decentralization by attracting jobs to suburban municipalities. Our main contribution is to show that the new rail transit clearly affects the spatial organization of employment through the number and size of the employment subcenters: not only does the presence of a rail station increase the probability of a suburban municipality of belonging to a subcenter by 5 to 10 %, but a 10 % increase in municipality proximity to a suburban station is found to increase its chance to be part of a subcenter by 3 to 5 %.
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Changes in fuel economy: An analysis of the Spanish car market

This paper estimates the role that technological change and car characteristics have played in the rate of fuel consumption of vehicles over time. Using data from the Spanish car market from 1988 to 2013, we estimate a reduced form equation that relates fuel consumption with a set of car characteristics. The results for the sales-weighted sample of vehicles show that energy efficiency would have improved by 32% and 40% for petrol and diesel cars respectively had car characteristics been held constant at 1988 values. However, the shift to bigger and more fuel-consuming cars reduced the gains from technological progress. Additionally, using the results of the fuel equation we show that, besides a natural growth rate of 1.1%, technological progress is affected by both the international price of oil and the adoption of mandatory emission standards. Moreover, according to our estimations, a 1% growth in GDP would modify car characteristics in such a way that fuel consumption would increase by around 0.23% for petrol cars and 0.35% for diesel cars.
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The effect of a specialized versus a general upper secondary school curriculum on students’ performance and inequality. A difference-in-differences cross country country comparison

Countries differ in their upper secondary school systems in a way that some require their students to choose a specialization from a set of areas - typically natural sciences, economic sciences, humanities or arts - and follow that specialization for the course of their upper secondary education years (e.g. Portugal, Spain, Sweden) whereas by contrast, others including Finland, Denmark or the U.S. follow a general curriculum where students, albeit being able to choose between different classes in distinct areas, are not required to follow a single specialization and thus, receive a more general education. Because countries only follow one system or the other, a cross-country analysis is required to estimate the possible effects of these institutional differences. An international differences-in-differences approach is chosen to account for country heterogeneity and unobserved factors influencing student outcomes, by using both PISA and PIAAC data for 20 different countries. The regression results suggest that the choice of one system or the other does not account for differences across countries in either the mean performance or the inequality of students’ test scores.
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Modelling adult skills in OECD countries

Research in the social sciences has focused extensively on the relationship between family background, educational attainment and social destination, on the one hand, and on the processes of skills creation and skills use, on the other. This paper brings these two branches of the literature together by examining the correlation between a range of social factors. The methodology we adopt provides a comprehensive approach to the study of the channels through which literacy skills are acquired, taking into account the interrelation of family background, educational attainment, and the use of skills at work and at home. We use the Programme of International Assessment of Adult Competences (PIAAC) dataset and apply a structural equation model (SEM). Our results show that family background and education play an important role in the configuration of adult skills and skill practices. Unequal family access to resources has a strong impact at later stages in life and strongly affects educational attainment and skills outcomes. Additionally, skills use has a positive and direct impact on adult skills.
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Law enforcement, municipal budgets and spillover effects: evidence from a quasi-experiment in Italy

In this paper, I empirically investigate the presence of spillover effects resulting from the strengthening of law enforcement against corruption and organized crime in local governments. Specifically, I take advantage of an Italian law that gives power to the central government to replace democratically elected municipal officials who are potentially connected with mafia with a commission of non-elected administrators. Fixed effects model estimates that focus on a sample of municipalities from three Italian regions (Campania, Calabria and Sicilia) for the period 1998 to 2013 show that the city council dismissal of a municipality fosters a reduction in public investments in neighboring municipalities. Additional empirical evidence suggests that this result could be explained by the presence of law enforcement spillovers potentially reducing misconducts in neighboring municipalities.
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Analysing the potential economic value of energy storage [WP]

This paper examines the likely market for electrical energy storage from a market viewpoint, taking market prices as given and determining the extent to which a strategy of arbitrage across the day, buying at the lowest price times at night and selling at the highest times during the early evening, generates profits in the British context. The paper sets out the potential problems as the market moves to absorb increasing amounts of wind, then characterises the nature of prices, which reveals the importance of a strategy in which power is absorbed into store for a relatively few hours of the day and discharged over a relatively few hours. The paper models the ongoing costs of operation and compares them with revenues, but does not consider construction costs. It argues that additional incentives may need to be put into place in order to render storage over relatively longer periods more attractive.
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Education, age and skills: an analysis using the PIAAC survey [WP]

The main aim of this paper is to analyse the evolution of adult skills, as captured by cognitive competencies assessed in the PIAAC, across age cohorts, explicitly taking into account that the quality of schooling might change from one cohort to another. We estimate a model that relates numeracy and literacy competencies to age, schooling, gender and variables related to both family background and labour market performance. The specification allows us to control for changes in the efficiency of the transformation of schooling into competencies when drawing age-skill profiles. Our results show that the effect of ageing on skills, once isolated from cohort effects related to schooling, decreases monotonically across consecutive cohorts. The evolution of the efficiency of the transformation of schooling into both numeracy and literacy skills shows a remarkably similar pattern. Nonetheless, this evolution differs substantially between education levels, with the efficiency of the transformation of schooling into skills showing a steadier profile for intermediate than it does for higher education. Finally, empirical evidence is provided for the decomposition of the differences in the skill levels of the older vs. the prime age generations. The results suggest that the progressive expansion of schooling across younger generations partially offsets the negative effect of the irrepressible ageing of society on skills.
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The economic impact of electricity losses [WP]

Although electricity losses constitute an important, but inevitable, amount of wasted resources (and a share that has to be funded), they remain one of the lesser known parts of an electricity system, and this despite the fact that the decisions of generators, transmission and distribution system operators and consumers all impact on them. In this paper we analyse the effects of such losses from two perspectives: from that of consumption or outflows and from that of generation or inflows. Given that end-user consumption varies across the day, consumption has direct implications for electricity losses. Indeed, demand-side management policies seek to encourage consumers to use less energy during peak hours and to reduce network congestion. At the same time, from the perspective of generation, the recent growth in distributed generation has modified the traditional, unidirectional, downward flows in electricity systems. This affects losses as energy is produced in the lower voltage network, which is closer to points of consumption. In this paper we evaluate the impact of consumption patterns and different generation technologies on energy losses. To do so, we draw on data from a real electricity system with a high level of renewable penetration, namely, that of Spain between 2011 and 2013. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first paper to analyse the real impact of consumption and the effect of each generation technology on energy losses, offering an opportunity to evaluate the potential benefits of demand-side management policies and distributed generation. Based on our results, we make a number of regulatory recommendations aimed at exploiting to the full these potential benefits. Our results should serve as a baseline for countries that are in the early stages of implementing these policies.
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Returns to ICT Skills

How important is mastering information and communication technologies (ICT) in modern labor markets? We present the first evidence on this question, drawing on unique data that provide internationally comparable information on ICT skills in 19 countries. Our identification strategy relies on the idea that Internet access is important in the formation of ICT skills, and we implement instrumental-variable models that leverage exogenous variation in Internet availability across countries and across German municipalities. ICT skills are substantially rewarded in the labor market: returns are at 8 percent for a one-standard-deviation increase in ICT skills in the International analysis and are almost twice as large in Germany. Placebo estimations show that exogenous Internet availability cannot explain numeracy or literacy skills, suggesting that our identifying variation is independent of a person’s general ability. Our results further suggest that the proliferation of computers complements workers in executing abstract tasks that require ICT skills.
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