Prof. David Hémous

UBS Foundation Associate Professor of Economics of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

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David Hémous received his PhD from Harvard University in 2012. He is a macroeconomist working on Economic Growth and Innovation. His work highlights that innovation responds to economic incentives and that public policies should be designed taking this dependence into account. In particular, he has showed in the context of climate change policy that innovations in the car industry responds to gas prices and that global and regional climate policies should support clean innovation to efficiently reduce CO2 emissions. His work on technological change and income distribution shows that higher labor costs lead to more automation, and that the recent increase in labor income inequality and in the capital share can be explained by a secular increase in automation. He has also showed that innovation affects top income shares. His work has been highlighted in several newspapers and magazines including Le Monde, The Economist, The Washington Post or Forbes, and it has been presented in policy circles such as COP 15 conference in Copenhagen or the French parliamentary meetings.

Interessen

Macroeconomics, International Trade, Technological Change and Innovation, Environmental Economics

UBS Foundation Associate Professor of Economics of Innovation and Entrepreneurship

Prof. David Hémous

Mehr zu Prof. David Hémous auf

David Hémous received his PhD from Harvard University in 2012. He is a macroeconomist working on Economic Growth and Innovation. His work highlights that innovation responds to economic incentives and that public policies should be designed taking this dependence into account. In particular, he has showed in the context of climate change policy that innovations in the car industry responds to gas prices and that global and regional climate policies should support clean innovation to efficiently reduce CO2 emissions. His work on technological change and income distribution shows that higher labor costs lead to more automation, and that the recent increase in labor income inequality and in the capital share can be explained by a secular increase in automation. He has also showed that innovation affects top income shares. His work has been highlighted in several newspapers and magazines including Le Monde, The Economist, The Washington Post or Forbes, and it has been presented in policy circles such as COP 15 conference in Copenhagen or the French parliamentary meetings.

Interessen

Macroeconomics, International Trade, Technological Change and Innovation, Environmental Economics

Selected publications

  • Innovation and Top Income Inequality with Philippe Aghion, Ufuk Akcigit, Antonin Bergeaud, and Richard Blundell, The Review of Economic Studies 2019 download

  • Long-term Relationships: Static Gains and Dynamic Inefficiencies with Morten Olsen Journal of the European Economic Association 2018 download

Research

David Hémous analyzes how innovation shapes long-term economic trends and how policies can affect innovation. In particular, he studies the role of innovation in the design of climate policies. How to control and limit climate change caused by our consumption of fossil fuels is one of the most pressing policy challenges facing the world today. While policymakers and climate scientists regularly emphasize the need to develop green technologies, economists have often ignored the role of endogenous innovation in the design of climate change policies and computed optimal carbon taxes accordingly. In his research, David sheds light on this issue by building theoretical economic models, evaluating them quantitatively and testing empirically their underlying assumptions on firm level data. His work emphasizes that innovation reacts strongly to policy and that climate policies should aim at redirecting innovation toward clean technologies.

Hémous also looks at the role played by innovation in the recent increase in income inequality. Rapid technological progress in IT, robotics or self-driving cars have heightened concerns that automation will lead to more inequality. Here as well, the economic literature has often viewed technological progress in automation as an exogenous event. Yet, in his research, Hémous shows that as an economy develops and wages increase, innovation becomes naturally more directed toward automation, which can account for the rise in the skill premium quantitatively. He also confirms empirically with patent data, that automation innovations increase with higher low-skill wages. This matters from a policy standpoint, because policy interventions have different long-term effects depending on whether automation is endogenous or exogenous.

Relatedly, developed economies have also experienced an increase in the share of income going to the top 1%. If this increase were to result from an increase in rents (through inheritance or a decline in competition), a strong policy response would be warranted. Hémous shows, however, that an increase in patented innovations is also in part responsible for the rise in the top 1% share.

David Hémous analyzes how innovation shapes long-term economic trends and how policies can affect innovation. In particular, he studies the role of innovation in the design of climate policies. How to control and limit climate change caused by our consumption of fossil fuels is one of the most pressing policy challenges facing the world today. While policymakers and climate scientists regularly emphasize the need to develop green technologies, economists have often ignored the role of endogenous innovation in the design of climate change policies and computed optimal carbon taxes accordingly. In his research, David sheds light on this issue by building theoretical economic models, evaluating them quantitatively and testing empirically their underlying assumptions on firm level data. His work emphasizes that innovation reacts strongly to policy and that climate policies should aim at redirecting innovation toward clean technologies.

Hémous also looks at the role played by innovation in the recent increase in income inequality. Rapid technological progress in IT, robotics or self-driving cars have heightened concerns that automation will lead to more inequality. Here as well, the economic literature has often viewed technological progress in automation as an exogenous event. Yet, in his research, Hémous shows that as an economy develops and wages increase, innovation becomes naturally more directed toward automation, which can account for the rise in the skill premium quantitatively. He also confirms empirically with patent data, that automation innovations increase with higher low-skill wages. This matters from a policy standpoint, because policy interventions have different long-term effects depending on whether automation is endogenous or exogenous.

David Hémous on Google Scholarbrowse

Videos

In the media

  • We and the machines UZH Magazin 2/19 Dossier of 17.6.2019 (in German) read

  • Automation - a gradual process Progressive Post of 29.1.2019 read

  • L’automatisation est inhérente à la croissance économique Le Monde of 28.5.2018 (in French) read

Quotes

Contrary to popular belief, the automation of work and everyday tasks will not happen overnight. It will be a gradual process over time. It is important to channel this change.
Wenn Menschen von Robotern ersetzt werden, steigt die Produktivität. Wir werden reicher.

Interviews and features

2019

2015

Images

Kontakt

Persönlich

Supportpersonal

Name:

Tamara Germitsch

Bürozeiten:

Tuesday, Friday

Addresse

University of Zurich

Department of Economics, Schönberggasse 1, 8001 Zürich
(Google Maps)