Research team

Expertise

My research is in the field of applied (both micro and macro) econometrics and labour economics, with a focus on education, crime, health, gender, and the position of different groups in the labour market, such as: (1) Youth at risk of crime, unemployment, and teen pregnancy; (2) Labour market position of women – gender pay and pension gaps, career progression and glass ceiling, discrimination; (3) Inequality and intergenerational mobility – equalisation of educational attainment of those from different socioeconomic backgrounds as an important tool for improving the equality of opportunity in society; (4) Economic and pro-social behaviour within organisations (social businesses) and returns to entrepreneurship; and (5) Financial services, social networks and financial practices in developing countries. My research tackles problems of modern societies and has high economic and societal impact. For example, the article The Crime Reducing Effect of Education, published in the Economic Journal (EJ) in 2011 established a causal link between education and crime by looking at the crime rates of school-leavers that were forced to stay on an extra year in British schools because of a legal change to the school-leaving age. This group of students was less likely to engage in criminal behaviour than the previous year cohort. The paper estimates that the cost of a year’s extra schooling is outweighed by the benefits in terms of less crime.

The gender gap in private pensions: present decisions, future outcomes. 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

Private pensions are currently of increasing importance within Europe as a result of population aging and its pressure on social security, and more specifically on public pensions. Women in particular will be at increased risk, due to their shorter and more fragmented labour market trajectories, reducing their possibilities to accumulate pension rights. Despite its importance, little research focusses on private pension saving behaviour and more specifically on gender differences. However, knowledge about private pensions can offer important insights for policymakers. Therefore, this project will focus on examining the determinants of private pension saving decisions, both for occupational pensions as well as personal private pension plans. The objectives are to: 1) estimate selection into receiving a pension income for the three pension pillars, and its effect on the overall pension gap, 2) examine whether there is a trade-off between wages and occupational pensions, and if this differs by gender by means of a discrete-choice experiment, 3) analyse what happens when selection into occupational pension schemes is automatic, by evaluating the effects of auto-enrolment in the UK, and 4) estimate the effect of children on private pension saving participation and contributions. Different from previous research on the gender gap in private pensions, the focus will be on behaviour of the current working population instead of looking at the pension income of the retired population.

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  • Research Project

A bad attitude? The influence of anti-immigration sentiments on international migratory movements. 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

The decision to migrate is complex. One potential influence of international migration is the anti-immigration attitudes held in a host country. Such attitudes represent a barrier for immigrants' success, when associated with discrimination. They add a 'cost' on immigrants and reduce the likelihood of perceiving the benefits of migrating greater than the costs. Thus far, however, little research exists on this. After a thorough literature review and theoretical contribution, this project will (1) empirically isolate the causal effect of anti-immigration attitudes on the inflow of migrants and return migration, (2) examine whether any heterogenous effects exist in terms of migrant characteristics, (3) uncover the role of media reporting in transmitting the attitudes from destination to origin countries, and (4) formulate policy implications and recommendations. These objectives will be achieved by exploiting unexpected events (natural experiments) that gave a signal of a country's public opinion, namely the Brexit referendum and Trump election. Using multiple econometric methods, we will examine various migration indicators. We expect that the events led to less immigration and a small increase in return migration. We hypothesize that media reporting functioned as a transmission mechanism. Our research will gain insights into how policymakers can approach natives' anti-immigration attitudes, which consequences to expect, and how these consequences can be mitigated.

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  • Research Project

Brexit as a trigger? The impact of Brexit on migration - the causal effects, the specific mechanisms, the future trends and policy implications 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025

Abstract

Britain's referendum vote to leave the European Union (EU) seemingly came as a shock to the public. "Voting Leave" can be interpreted as a trigger of society's dissatisfaction with the state of the economy and the EU's role in it, which resulted in emotional responses and action from the British and foreign nationals. In the months following the referendum, there was an observed increase in the number of citizenship and permanent residence applications from the EU citizens living in the United Kingdom (UK), and a change in migration patterns to and from the European Union. Motivated by the observed societal response, this project aims to establish (i) whether the Brexit referendum vote caused observed changes in migration patterns (or merely exacerbated a previous trend), (ii) what were the specific mechanisms behind it, (iii) which heterogenous effects can be identified, (iv) what was the role of the (social) media reporting as a transmission mechanism, and (v) what are the expected future migration trends and policy issues. Using an array of robust empirical (econometric) techniques, we will consider these changes for the UK as a whole and its regions and investigate whether the effects are temporary or long lasting. Further analysis of other influential factors such as labour market and socio-economic characteristics of the locality, ethnic and national diversity of the area will complement the main results. An extended period of analysis will allow us to (i) assess robustness of the main findings, (ii) evaluate the effect of earlier and subsequent "shock" events in the UK (e.g., the announcement of the referendum, triggering of Article 50, the COVID-19 effect, and actual UK exit from the EU in January 2021), which will be important for assessing the relative strength of the Brexit referendum effect and (iii) analyse the effect of the Brexit referendum vote as well as the complete Brexit process on migration policies and trends in the UK and in Europe. Proposed research will be of interest to academics in the fields of economics, sociology and social policy, demography, social geography, and political studies and will further contribute to it.

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  • Research Project

Gender pension gap in Europe: Determinants and perspectives for the future. 01/01/2021 - 31/12/2024

Abstract

Despite the abundance of research on the gender wage gap, there is relatively little research on the extent to which women's lower lifetime labour market outcomes translate into lower pension outcomes, taking cross-country perspective. This becomes even more relevant having in mind an ageing population, the falling ratio of the number of people of working age for every person of pensionable age, and the rising proportion of single-person households in Europe. This research aims to: (a) estimate the gender differentials in pension coverage/income in Europe based on the most recent available data, taking into account the life-course perspective, demographic and economic factors, household roles and preferences, and individual country heterogeneity; (b) answer the question whether there is a trade-off between the wages and occupational pensions and whether this differs by gender; (c) quantify the gender differences in the discount rate, i.e., the extent to which men and women differ in terms of valuing the present over the future; and (d) answer what is the role of the family members (partner, children) in securing women's old-age income. The findings will extend the theoretical knowledge in pension economics, indicate whether the current retirement systems in Europe are able to provide adequate pensions and offer insurance against an unexpectedly long life for both men and women, and shed light on policy challenges when trying to narrow the gender gap in old-age income.

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  • Research Project

Fiscal Policy, Credit Cycles, and the Macroeconomy. 01/05/2020 - 30/04/2024

Abstract

The global financial crisis reignited interest in understanding how credit fluctuations affect macroeconomic outcomes. It is now widely recognized that private debt cycles shape macroeconomic fragility and crisis risk. In response to the crisis, many countries adopted countercyclical fiscal policy, which moved government spending, taxation, and deficit financing to the forefront of policy debates. The aim of this project is to understand the interplay of credit cycle fluctuations, business cycle fluctuations, and fiscal policy. First, we will develop a business cycle model in which household debt matters for the propagation and amplification of fiscal interventions. The model will be used to test the significance and magnitude of the private debt ccelerator effect with respect to fiscal policy changes.Counterfactual policy simulations will provide insights into how the credit cycle influences the fiscal transmission mechanism. The second part of the project will explore how fiscal policy by itself shapes private credit cycles. In particular, we will provide evidence on the effects of fiscal policy shocks on credit growth. Finally, we will turn to systematic (rule-based) stabilization policy and explore whether there is a trade-off between business cycle stabilization and credit cycle stabilization. Understanding the interplay between fiscal policy and credit cycles would be of great value for the design of policies aiming to promote macroeconomic and financial stability.

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  • Research Project

Searching for partners via friends: implications for household formation and economic decisions 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2023

Abstract

The aim of this project is to understand the interplay between the search for partners, household formation and economic decisions. Making an investment in the ability to search for a better partner affects the characteristics of the match, but also the bargaining position in the relationship by determining the quality of the outside options in case of divorce. We will introduce search frictions in the marriage market proposing a matching model where search frictions are captured by a matching function or by search of partners via social networks. Modeling search behavior implies a better description of the intra-household decision process, which in turn yields a more powerful analysis of household choice behavior and its welfare implications on spouses and their children. The aim of this project, which is part of a bigger research agenda, is to estimate non-parametrically these models using revealed preferences analysis to provide a structural description of the within-household allocation as a function of the search behavior defining the current and future outside options on marriage markets.

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  • Research Project

Francqui Chair 2019-2020 Prof. Siem Jan Koopman. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2020

Abstract

Professor Koopman will give the following lectures within the Scientific Chair International Francqui Professor 2019-2020: 1. The Econometrics of Time-Varying Parameters 2. Macroeconomic forecasting 3. Stochastic Volatility Modelling 4. Dynamic Factor Models

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  • Research Project

The effect of Brexit on hate crime and migration in the United Kingdom. 01/04/2019 - 30/03/2020

Abstract

This project will provide causal evidence on the impact of Britain's vote to leave the European Union on changes in hate crime and migration patterns. Using an array of robust econometric techniques, we will consider these changes for the UK as a whole and its regions and investigate whether the effects are temporary or long lasting. Further analysis of other influential factors such as media and social media activity, labour market and socio-economic characteristics of the locality, ethnic and national diversity of the area will complement the main results.

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  • Research Project

Concerted research program in health economics at Kinshasa School of Public Health. 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2020

Abstract

DRC lacks necessary resources to provide efficient and equitable health services. Reinforcing local capacity is essential to constructively evaluate all health-care financing alternatives, to demonstrate the economic burden of health-related conditions, and to meaningfully determine the value of proposed programs and interventions, appropriate within the Congolese context. To provide efficient and equitable health services for improving the health of the Congolese population, the present project aims to: (1) set-up a concerted research program in health economics (HE) at the Kinshasa School of Public Health (KSPH); (2) strengthen the research capacities in HE at KSPH; and (3) increase the visibility and outreach of research activities and outputs in HE.

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  • Research Project

Chair in Migration, Integration and Labour Markets with specific focus on labour market position of women and effectiveness of (labour market) integration programmes targeting recent migrants. 20/12/2016 - 30/09/2019

Abstract

The chair on Migration, Integration and Labour Markets is a colloborative research project with the Flemish government on the labour market position of individuals with a migration background in Flanders, with specific focus on the labour on the labour market position of migrant women and the effectiveness of (labour market) integration trajectories targeting recent migrants. The project is innovative in that aims to integrate register data on i) integration trajectories, ii) education and activation trajectories and iii) work permits with longitudinal microdata drawn from the Crossroads Bank for Social Security to reconstruct and analyse labour market trajectories of resident and new migrants using advanced hazard and econometric models. Throughout the project interviews and focus groups are set up with both participants and counselors to bring additional insight to the longitudinal analysis of trajectories based on register data.

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  • Research Project

Ethnic Composition as a Factor Explaining Public Policy in Developing Countries 01/04/2016 - 31/03/2017

Abstract

The aim of this project is to examine whether fractionalisation and partitioning, two measures of ethnic composition, can explain the quality of public policies observed in developing countries. The project re-estimates the findings of the seminal paper by Easterly and Levine (1997), extends the data with observations from the past two decades, and tests robustness to different measures of policy quality.

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  • Research Project

Financial services, social networks and financial practices: investigation use and impact research. 01/10/2014 - 30/06/2015

Abstract

This project represents a formal research agreement between UA and on the other hand the client. UA provides the client research results mentioned in the title of the project under the conditions as stipulated in this contract.

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  • Research Project