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  • Author: Evelyn Gick, Wolfgang Gick
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Changes in the world of fashion from haute couture to prêt-à-porter, the introduction of the mass market as well as the democratization of fashion call for a new explanation of the fashion formation process. We offer a three-player cheap talk disclosure mechanism to explain why, after observing the collection of designers, the fashion media sometimes proclaim a new fashion, and why they often do not. This mechanism is more informative than one in which only one designer is consulted. Our paper extends the literature on fashion economics; our findings are in line with those of fashion experts.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Author: Ellen Verbake, Thomas A. DiPrete
  • Publication Date: 06-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The distribution of well-being in society and comparisons of well-being across societies depend both on the amount of inequality at the national level and also on the national average level of well-being. Comparisons between the U.S. and western Europe show that inequality is greater in the U.S. but that average GDP/capita is also greater in the U.S., and most Americans have higher standards of living than do Western Europeans at comparable locations in their national income distributions. What is less well-known is that (depending on the country) much or all of this gap arises from differences in the level of working hours in the U.S. and in Western Europe. Crossnational comparisons of well-being have typically relied on the methodology of generalized Lorenz curves (GLC), but this approach privileges disposable income and cash transfers while ignoring other aspects of welfare state and labor market structure that potentially affect the distribution of well-being in a society. We take an alternative approach that focuses on the value of time use and the different distributions of work and family time that are generated by each country's labor market and social welfare institutions. We show that reasonable estimates of the greater contribution to well-being from non-market activities such as the raising of children or longer vacations overturn claims in the literature that the U.S. offers greater well-being to more of its citizens than do Western European countries.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, America, Europe, Netherlands
  • Author: Gabriel T. Swank, Tim Büthe
  • Publication Date: 01-2007
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Antitrust regulation and the related merger review are essential for making a market economy work. Merger review is also among the most prominent powers of the European Commission in the Common Market of the EU. How did this supranational actor come to acquire such power? And what explains the variation in the Commission's decisions in some of the trans-atlantically most controversial merger review cases in recent years? In this paper, we develop a modified neofunctionalist theory as a historical institutionalist theory of institutional change that integrates elements of rational choice and social constructivism. We argue that it provides a superior explanation of (1) the institutional development of the European Commission's competence over antitrust matters and merger review from the 1950s negotiations over the Treaty of Rome through the changes of 2004 and (2) the Commission's decisions in some of the most prominent cases, where a high level of politicization makes a neofunctionalist explanation least likely.
  • Topic: International Relations, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Victor Pérez-Diaz
  • Publication Date: 12-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The author restates a traditional, broad and composite view of civil society, of increasing relevance at a time of ever greater complexity in a non-state centered world; and he explores the relations between markets, associations and politics as parts of that interconnected whole. Markets as conversations shape people's dispositions and help developing a set of civil and civic virtues, bracketed together under the rubric of civility. The paper examines the scope and limits of these civilizing effects on politics and the public sphere.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Markets
  • Author: Éloi Laurent
  • Publication Date: 08-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In this paper, I examine how the specific nature of economic integration in the European Union has affected member states' redistribution policies over the last two decades. More precisely, I attempt to detail the effect of social-tax competition between member states within social models, processes that I label “races to bottoms.” In this framework, I identify the emergence of an informal set of rules effectively constraining national redistribution policies in different ways, given the diversity of tax-social compacts in the EU. Because these rules are implicit and their effect generally underestimated, I gather them under the notion of “shadow” social Europe. Having empirically assessed the impact of this dynamic on the “continental,” the “Nordic,” the “eastern” and the “liberal” social-tax compact, I finally try to present a normative perspective and some policy options on this matter.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Government
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Stefan Collignon
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: This paper models unemployment as a general equilibrium solution in labor and capital markets, while the natural rate hypothesis explains unemployment simply as a partial equilibrium in the labor market. It is shown that monetary policy can have long-run effects by affecting required returns on capital and investment. If monetary policy is primarily concerned with maintaining price stability, the interaction between wage bargaining and the central bank's credibility as an inflation fighter becomes a crucial factor in determining employment. Different labor market institutions condition different monetary policy reactions. With centralized wage bargaining, a central bank mandate focusing primarily on price stability is sufficient. With an atomistic labor market, the central bank must also consider output as a policy objective.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Markets
  • Political Geography: United States, United Kingdom, Europe
  • Author: JoãoOliveira Soares, Carlos M.F. Monteiro, Cristina del Campo
  • Publication Date: 05-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: It is well-known that there are significant differences among the European Union regions, which have been heightened due to the most recent enlargement in 2004. This paper aims to analyze this diversity and propose a classification of European Regions (EU) that is adjusted to the different axes of socioeconomic development and, simultaneously, is useful for European regional policy purposes. The data used in this paper were published by the European Union Statistical Office (Eurostat) and correspond to the main statistical indicators of NUTS2 (Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics) regions in the EU. Multivariate statistical techniques allowed the identification of clusters of socioeconomic similarity, which are contrasted with the classes considered in the financial proposal of the European Commission (EC) for the period 2007-2013. It was found that each of the two main groups of the EC classification – convergence regions and competitiveness and employment regions – comprises at least two significantly different groups of regions, which differ not only in their average income but also in other indicators associated with their particular weaknesses. Also, it has been revealed that two other groups–phasing-in regions and phasing-out regions –, beyond their inexpressive denomination, lack homogeneity, being spread throughout different clusters.
  • Topic: Demographics, Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Carlo Trigilia
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The aim of this article is to discuss the relationship between economic sociology and economic policies. In the last decades, economic sociology has made significant achievements in terms of theory and research, but that its influence on policies has remained weak. While this was inevitable in earlier decades, when scholars had to concentrate most of their effort on defining the role and contribution of economic sociology, it has since become a constraint for the institutionalization and recognition of the discipline. The return to economic sociology, since the 1980s, has brought about important theoretical achievements, especially in the analysis of economic organization at the micro level in terms of social and cultural embeddedness. The role of social relations in contemporary economy has clearly emerged, but its implications for policies to promote economic development have remained more latent so far. Although a weaker institutionalization and a poorer connection to policy-making certainly affect the political influence of economic sociology in comparison to economics, the paper focuses on the research perspective. A shift of the research focus from the statics to the dynamics of economic organization could be useful. In this framework, particular attention is drawn to the study of local development and innovation through a closer relationship of economic sociology with comparative political economy. A separation between these two approaches does not favor a full exploitation of the potential contribution of economic sociology to policies.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Development, Economics, Political Economy
  • Political Geography: Germany
  • Author: Carl Dahlström
  • Publication Date: 02-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: When harsh cuts were introduced in the Swedish welfare state in an agreement between the centre-right government and the opposition Social Democrats in 1992, there were astonishingly few disagreements between the political parties as to which social groups should carry the burdens of the cuts. The conventional wisdom on welfare state retrenchment would lead us to expect a clash of interests, especially considering the strength of interest groups in Sweden and the different constituencies of the five parties included in the agreement. This paper explains why that did not happen. It argues that the role that key officials played in shaping the 1992 retrenchment agreement in Sweden was decisive in averting potential political conflicts. In a crisis, politicians depend on advice from officials as politicians need complex information, often under pressure of time. This paper argues that key state officials, through their advice, defined both the character of the crisis and the range of possible solutions. As the number of options was restricted, key officials were able to define what cuts were reasonable. Within this framework, politicians looked for practical solutions and, to a large extent, disregarded conflicts of interest. This paper also suggests that the content of such advice depends on what is called the loyalty of key officials, which depends on the terms of their employment.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Human Welfare
  • Political Geography: Europe
  • Author: Pepper D. Culpepper
  • Publication Date: 01-2006
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies, Harvard University
  • Abstract: When should we ever expect to see durable moves toward greater wage bargaining coordination? Moving to sustained coordinated wage bargaining presupposes that unions and employers can both be convinced that wage bargaining is in fact a game in which both actors prefer coordination. This can only happen when these social actors come to accept as true an idea of the economy in which their coordination through wage bargaining institutions will give them better outcomes than would bargaining through decentralized institutions. This paper argues that the process of developing common knowledge changes institutional preferences among employers. It was the development of common knowledge that changed employer preferences about the attractiveness of institutions for wage coordination in Ireland in Italy. In both cases, the development of common expectations required the emergence and joint ratification of a common set of references, in what I call common knowledge events. These events led organized employers to change their previous position about acceptable institutions of wage bargaining. This change made possible the institutionalization of coordinated wage bargaining in both countries. As demonstrated through counterfactual analysis of the Australian case, the emergence and ratification of such a common view is the necessary condition for the emergence and survival of coordinated wage bargaining institutions.
  • Topic: Development, Economics
  • Political Geography: Europe, Australia/Pacific, Ireland