Natural experiments provide robust identifying assumptions for the estimation of policy effects. Yet their use for policy design is often limited by the difficulty of extrapolating on the basis of reduced-form estimates. In this study, we exploit an age condition in the eligibility for social assistance in France, which lends itself to a regression discontinuity (RD) design. We suggest to make the underlying labor supply model explicit, i.e. to translate the reduced-form discontinuity in terms of discontinuous changes in disposable incomes. This exercise shows the potential of combining natural experiments and behavioral models. In particular, we can test the external validity of the combined approach. We find that it predicts the effect of a subsequent reform, which extends transfers to the working poor, remarkably well. The model is then used to simulate the extension of social assistance to young people and finds that a transfer program with an in-work component would not create further disincentives to work in this population.
The ESRI works towards a national vision of ‘Informed policy for a better Ireland’. This means producing high-quality analysis to provide robust evidence for policymaking, with the goals of research excellence and policy impact.
The ESRI produces research that contributes to understanding economic and social change in the new international context and that informs public policymaking and civil society in Ireland.