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Taxing Families: The Impact of Child-related Transfers on Maternal Labor Supply (PDF)

Conditionally accepted at American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics

The employment rate of married women with and without pre-school children varies substantially across countries. To what extent can child-related transfers account for this variation? I develop a life-cycle model in which married couples jointly decide their labor supply, female human capital evolves endogenously, and some couples have access to grandparental childcare. I show that child-related transfers can explain most of the variation in the employment rates of married women, even after taking the labor income tax treatment and cross-country variation in childcare fees into account.


The Economics of Women's Rights (PDF, Replication Package)

joint with Michèle Tertilt, Matthias Doepke and Laura Montenbruck

Accepted for publication at Journal of European Economic Association

Two centuries ago, in most countries around the world, women were unable to vote, had no say over their own children or property, and could not obtain a divorce. Women have gradually gained rights in many areas of life, and this legal expansion has been closely intertwined with economic development. We aim to understand the drivers behind these reforms. To this end, we distinguish between four types of women’s rights - economic, political, labor, and body - and document their evolution over the past 50 years across countries. We summarize the political-economy mechanisms that link economic development to changes in women's rights and show empirically that these mechanisms account for a large share of the variation in women's rights across nations and over time.

The Economics of Fertility: A New Era (PDF, Data for Figures)

joint with Matthias Doepke, Fabian Kindermann and Michèle Tertilt

Forthcoming in the Handbook of Family Economics 

edited by Shelly Lundberg and Alessandra Voena, (Amsterdam: Elsevier)

In this survey, we argue that the economic analysis of fertility has entered a new era. First-generation models of fertility choice were designed to account for two empirical regularities that, in the past, held both across countries and across families in a given country: a negative relationship between income and fertility, and another negative relationship between women’s labor force participation and fertility. The economics of fertility has entered a new era because these stylized facts no longer universally hold. In high-income countries, the income-fertility relationship has flattened and in some cases reversed, and the cross-country relationship between women’s labor force participation and fertility is now positive. We summarize these new facts and describe new models that are designed to address them. The common theme of these new theories is that they view factors that determine the compatibility of women’s career and family goals as key drivers of fertility. We highlight four factors that facilitate combining a career with a family: family policy, cooperative fathers, favorable social norms, and flexible labor markets. We also review other recent developments in the literature, and we point out promising new directions for future research on the economics of fertility. 


Non-technical summaries: Vox.euIMF F&D Magazine

Featured in: Economist, Economist (2)

Working Papers

Luxuries, Necessities, and the Allocation of Time (PDF)

joint with Lei Fang and Pedro Silos

Households enjoy utility from activities that require a combination of time and goods. We classify activities into two types: luxuries and necessities. Luxuries (necessities) are activities for which time and expenditure shares rise (decline) with income. We develop and estimate a model with nonhomothetic preferences and find that time and goods are substitutable in producing activities. Activities are also substitutable among themselves. Hence, wage and price changes cause large reallocations of time and expenditures across activities. This effect is quantitatively important for welfare inequality. Since 2003, the rise in the price of leisure luxuries has reduced welfare inequality while the rise in wage dispersion has increased it.

Work in Progress

Cohabitation and Child Development 

joint with Efi AdamopoulouKaren Kopecky, and Tim Obermeier

Cohabitation rates of couples without children have steadily increased in the U.S. over the past 50 years. Yet, cohabitation rates of couples with small children have only increased for the less educated. What explains this differential rise in cohabitation rates by education and what are the implications for child investment and child outcomes? We show empirically that cohabiting women experience smaller childbirth penalties, work more in the labor market, and spend less time with their children as compared to married women. Subsequently, their children are less likely to obtain a college degree. To rationalize these facts, we build an overlapping generations model of marriage, cohabitation, and child development. Parents are altruistic towards their children and invest time and goods into their development. This, in turn, increases the probability that a child completes college. Couples can choose to separate in every period but married couples pay a divorce cost. Assets are split equally between spouses if couples were married prior to separation, but not if spouses previously cohabited. The model matches differences in hours worked, time, and money invested in children between married and cohabiting women. A comparison of the 1975 and 2015 steady states reveals that changes in the gender wage gap and the college premium are important drivers of the rise in cohabitation among less educated women with children over this period.


The Political Economy of Laws to "Protect" Women

joint with Matthias Doepke, Hanno Foerster and Michèle Tertilt

Patents and Economic Growth

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