Register for the event
As part of the Vilfredo Pareto Research Seminar series, the International Economics Department at the Graduate Institute is pleased to invite you to a public talk given by Vincent Bignon, Advisor to the General Director of Research and International Relations at the Bank of France.
He will present his paper The Toll of Tariffs: Protectionism, Education and Fertility in Late 19th Century France, coauthored with Cecilia Garcia Peñalosa
Abstract: This paper examines a novel negative impact of trade tariffs and the costs they induce by documenting how protectionism reversed the long-term improvements in education and the fertility transition that were well under way in late 19th-century France. The Méline tariff, a tariff on cereals introduced in 1892, was a major protectionist shock that shifted relative prices in favor of agriculture and away from industry. In a context in which the latter was more intensive in skills than agriculture, the tariff reduced the relative return to education, which in turn affected parents’ decisions about the quantity and quality of children. We use regional differences in the importance of cereal production in the local economy to estimate the impact of the tariff. Our findings indicate that the tariff reduced enrolment in primary education and increased birth rates and fertility. The magnitude of these effects was substantial. In regions with average shares of employment in cereal production, the tariff offset the (downward) trend in birth rates for 13 years; in those with the highest cereal employment shares, there was a delay of up to 22 years.
About the speaker
Vincent Bignon is also a research fellow of the European think tank CEPR (Center for Economic Policy Research). His research deals with money markets, crisis management, lender of last resort interventions and financial crises. Previously, he was the deputy head of the division for micro economic analyses, after four years in the monetary policy research division and a year in secondment with the directorate supervising payment system infrastructures and central clearing counterparties in the General directorate for Financial Stability and Operations. Before joining the French central bank in 2011, he had been an associate professor at the University of Paris East in Créteil from 2003 to 2006, at Sciences Po in Paris from 2006 to 2009 and at the Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies in Geneva from 2009 to 2011.