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Empirical essays on employment, financial development and stability

Asık, Gunes (2014) Empirical essays on employment, financial development and stability. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is a collection of essays on the important problems in developing countries and aims to contribute to the empirical literature on the i) financial services sector expansion and its implications on formal employment, i) impact of early retirement incentives on labour force participation rates and finally on the iii) effectiveness of stabilization funds on reducing the boom and bust cycles in light of fluctuating international commodity prices. Chapter 1 investigates the role of financial services expansion, especially the impact of increase in consumer credits on the reduction of informal employment. I argue that liberalization should naturally lead to a decline in the share of informal employment due to the fact that international firms are less likely to employ informally and consumers whose borrowing constraints are relaxed due to more credit availability are more likely to prefer goods that are paid with consumer credits. I test this hypothesis by exploiting the regional variation in Turkey. Due to the possible endogeneity problem, I employ several instruments and find positive impact of consumer services expansion on formal employment. Two unique datasets that I explore for for possible instruments are i) the religiosity and political tendencies surveys of 2011 and 2013, and ii) regional Armenian population loss data between 1914-1917 in the former Ottoman Empire that preceded the Turkish Republic. The exogenous variation that I seek to explore accordingly are; i) Islam bans all sorts of interest charges in financial transactions and therefore residents of more conservative regions are on average less likely to demand consumer credits, and ii) Armenians were the trading and artisan class of the Empire and therefore the main users of the financial instruments and when they perished. Chapter 2 is about the impact of a Social Security System that allowed women and men to retire as early as 38 and 44 years old on labour supply decisions in Turkey. Before the pension reform of 1999, the Law 3774, dated 1992 brought incentives to those individuals who several conditions to retire at a much earlier age than the conventional 60-65 years window. Using the Statistics on Income and Living Condition (SILC) panel dataset between 2007-2010 in a Fuzzy Regression Continuity Design, we find that these incentives let to an average decline of about 16.9 hours in weekly hours worked by men aged 44-52 and 20.6 hours decline in weekly hours worked by women who are aged between 39-49 in a bandwidth of three years around the eligible age for retirement. Moreover, we find that the entitlement for retirement after 44 years old reduced the probability of labour force participation of men by about 28% to 37% while we did not find a statistically meaningful impact on the participation decisions of women. Chapter 3 explores whether sovereign wealth or stabilization funds created by governments in oil rich countries are effective in reducing volatility and ensuring a counter-cyclical or acyclical fiscal policy in line with the optimal fiscal policy literature or whether they are just another government account in practise. The existing literature on the effectiveness of stabilization funds suffers from endogeneity problems, namely i) the endogeneity between gdp and government expenditures and ii) the endogenity of the decision to establish stabilization funds. In this paper, I contribute to the literature by addressing both of these problems by using a series of Two Stage Least Square Estimations and find positive evidence in favour of stabilization funds in reducing volatility and pro-cyclicality of the fiscal policy in oil rich countries. The findings are relevant for the wider discussion of the procyclicality in developing countries, as one third of the countries which are documented to improve fiscal policy cyclicality seem to be the ones that are resource rich and have a stabilization fund in place.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Gunes Arkadas Asık
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Sets: Departments > Economics
Supervisor: Pissarides, Christopher

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