Job Market Paper

What Works for Working Mothers? A Regular Schedule Lowers the Child Penalty (with Ludovica Ciasullo)  

Which working arrangements do mothers prefer, and how do these working arrangements affect the child penalty they experience? The Australian 2009 Fair Work Act explicitly entitled parents of young children to request a (reasonable) change in working arrangements. Leveraging variation in the timing of the law, timing of childbirth, and the bite of the law across different occupations and industries, we establish two main results. First, if allowed to request a change in working arrangements, new mothers ask for regularity in their schedule. Second, with regular schedules, working mothers' child penalty declined from a 47 percent drop in hours worked to a 40 percent drop. For the most exposed mothers, the Fair Work Act led to both a doubling in schedule regularity, and a 30% decrease in the child penalty in hours of work.

Other Working Papers

Employment Protection and the Direction of Technology Adoption (with Andrea Manera)

We study the impact of employment protection legislation (EPL) on firms’ innovation, through an event-study analysis of labor market reforms occurring in Europe over 2000-2016. Data from the Community Innovation Survey reveal that substantial drops in EPL for temporary workers prompt a reallocation of innovation towards the introduction of new products, away from process innovation aimed at cutting labor costs. Among innovative firms, the share of product innovators increases by 15% of the pre-reform value, while the share of firms specializing in process innovation falls by 35%. We develop a theoretical framework of directed technical change to rationalize our findings. 

Optimal Labor Income Taxation in the Assortative Matching Model (2015)

I consider an assortative matching model in which workers who differ in ability match with firms which differ in size. I first extend the original (Beckerian) model in order to account for endogenous labor supply choice, and show that in this case positive assortative matching is optimal when the firms' production function is supermodular and the worker cost of effort function is submodular, or vice-versa. I then derive the optimal linear tax rate in presence of assortative matching, and compare it with the tax rate in Rothschild and Scheuer's (2011) Self-Confirming Policy Equilibrium (SCPE), the tax policy believed to be optimal by a government that assumes a frictionless labor market with exogenous wages. I show that the rigidities introduced by assortative matching make the optimal linear tax rate generally larger than the one in the SCPE when the effect on firms' profits is not taken into account (partial equilibrium), but the optimal linear tax rate is typically smaller than the one in the SCPE when general equilibrium effects are considered.

Work in Progress

The Effects of Sectoral Bargaining: Quasi-Experimental Evidence from Contract Extensions in Germany (with Simon Jäger, Benjamin Schoefer and Jörg Heining)

Sectoral bargaining, in which employer and worker associations negotiate collective agreements binding for the entire industry, is common in many countries. We study the effects of sectoral bargaining in Germany, where only some collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) are extended to the entire industry, while most CBAs are only binding for employers that join the agreement (employer association). Our design exploits a series of government-mandated extension events (and their reverse), which declare a CBA binding for all firms within a certain region and industry

Maternal Labor Market Prospects and Intra-household Bargaining over Time Allocation (with Ludovica Ciasullo)

How do couples allocate their time when they have a child, and does it change with changing labor market prospect for mothers? First, we document that after the birth of their first child, women significantly reallocate their time use, sharply decreasing their labor supply in order to spend time playing with the child and doubling the time spent in housework, while men don't change time spent in paid work or doing housework. Men do spend time with the child, although only one third of the time spent by women. Secondly, we exploit an exogenous change in working conditions of mothers, the 2009 Australian Fair Work Act, which increased maternal labor supply, to study how it affected time use of the couple. We show that mothers who spend more hours in paid employment cut on time spent doing housework almost by the same amount, but not on time spent directly with the kid; and that their male partners do not pick up the slack in housework. We plan to use these preliminary findings to inform a model of intra-household bargaining over time and task allocation, and how it changes in the presence of children.

Full-Time Mothers, Part-Time Workers (with Ludovica Ciasullo)

We study two determinants of the choice of mothers to return to work after giving birth: indivisibility of labor, and signaling. In Italy, new mothers have to take five months of mandatory leave. In addition, parents are allowed up to 10 more months of leave. A 2015 law (i) gives parents the possibility of taking the voluntary leave on an hourly rather than a daily basis, and (ii) allows parents to turn a full-time contract into a part-time contract for any remaining months of voluntary leave. By comparing new parents before and after the law, we can study whether these provisions change maternal labor supply - which could go in either direction, depending on whether the compliers are mothers that in absence of the law would have worked full time or not worked -, thus addressing the question of whether indivisibility of labor is a binding constraint. We can also study, both theoretically and empirically, how the expanded choice set affects signaling - the notion whereby if you take the longest possible leave you signal to your employer that you are “low attachment type”, thus risking passed over for training or promotions - by comparing sectors in which the signaling motive is likely to be more or less relevant (for example, private vs public sector).