Economics

Discrete Prices and the Incidence and Efficiency of Excise Taxes

Discrete Prices and the Incidence and Efficiency of Excise Taxes
Under Review

Rao, Nirupama S. (with Chris Conlon)
06/14/2016

This paper uses detailed UPC-level data from Nielsen to examine the relationship between excise taxes, retail prices, and consumer welfare in the market for distilled spirits. Empirically, we document the presence of a nominal rigidity in retail prices that arises because firms largely choose prices that end in ninety-nine cents and change prices in whole-dollar increments. Theoretically, we show that this rigidity can rationalize both highly incomplete and excessive pass-through estimates without restrictions on the underlying demand curve. A correctly specified model, such as an (ordered) logit, takes this discreteness into account when predicting the effects of alternative tax changes. We show that explicitly accounting for discrete pricing has a substantial impact both on estimates of tax incidence and the excess burden cost of tax revenue. Quantitatively, we document substantial non-monotonicities in both of these quantities, expanding the potential scope of what policymakers should consider when raising excise taxes.

State of New York City's Housing & Neighborhoods in 2015

State of New York City's Housing & Neighborhoods in 2015
NYU Furman Center. Released May 9, 2016.

Maxwell Austensen, Ingrid Gould Ellen, Luke Herrine, Brian Karfunkel, Gita Khun Jush, Shannon Moriarty, Stephanie Rosoff, Traci Sanders, Eric Stern, Michael Suher, Mark A. Willis, and Jessica Yager
05/31/2016

The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods report, published annually by the NYU Furman Center, provides a compendium of data and analysis about New York City’s housing, land use, demographics, and quality of life indicators for each borough and the city’s 59 community districts. The report combines timely and expert analysis of NYU Furman Center researchers with data transparency.

The 2015 report, released on May 9, 2016, is presented in three parts:

Part 1: Focus on Gentrification

Each year, the State of the City report describes, contextualizes, and provides analysis on a pressing and policy-relevant issue affecting New York City. In 2015, the report focuses on gentrification in New York City, exploring and comparing changes over time in the city's neighborhoods to better understand how rapidly rising rents affect residents.

Part 2: Citywide Analysis

The Citywide Analysis provides a broad, longitudinal analysis of the New York City's housing and neighborhoods. The chapter is divided into five parts: New Yorkers; land use and the built environment; homeowners and their homes; renters and their homes; and neighborhood services and conditions.

Part 3: City, Borough, and Community District Data

The data section provides current and historical statistics for over 50 housing, neighborhood, and socioeconomic indicators at the city, borough, and community district levels. It also includes indicator definitions and rankings; methods; and an index of New York City’s community districts and sub-borough areas.

Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in New York City

Fifty Years of Historic Preservation in New York City
NYU Furman Center. Published March 2016.

Ingrid Gould Ellen, Brian J. McCabe, and Eric Edward Stern
05/31/2016

The year 2015 marked the 50th anniversary of the creation of New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), which has the authority to designate areas as historic districts and to designate individual, interior and scenic landmark sites. The LPC aims to achieve a wide array of goals through preservation, from safeguarding historic assets to promoting tourism, enhancing property values, and furthering economic development. This fact brief does not seek to assess progress in meeting those goals, but rather to describe the extent of historic preservation in New York City and explore some of the differences between historic districts and non-regulated areas. This brief draws on our full report, Fifty Years of Historic Preservation, and focuses on historic districts as such districts include the majority of parcels regulated by the LPC.

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day
Arabic translation.

Jonathan Morduch, Daryl Collins, Stuart Rutherford, & Orlanda Ruthven
05/24/2016

Portfolios of the Poor: How the World's Poor Live on $2 a Day (Princeton University Press, 2009) tackles the fundamental question of how the poor make ends meet. Over 250 families in Bangladesh, India, and South Africa participated in this unprecedented study of the financial practices of the world's poor.

These households were interviewed every two weeks over the course of a year, reporting on their most minute financial transactions. This book shows that many poor people have surprisingly sophisticated financial lives, saving and borrowing with an eye to the future and creating complex "financial portfolios" of formal and informal tools.

Indispensable for those in development studies, economics, and microfinance, Portfolios of the Poor will appeal to anyone interested in knowing more about poverty and what can be done about it.

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