Public Paper Series

The UBS Center Public Paper Series is a central initiative within the UBS Center’s aspiration to provide new relevant research findings on key economic topics of our time to a broad audience. As the name implies, these papers are directed to the interested public at large. While the authors will always be international top specialists on the topics covered, the Public Papers are written in a clear, compact, and highly readable format, free of academic jargon and understandable without prior knowledge about the subject.

Talking about corporate culture has become quite popular in the business world. But why should companies care about corporate culture at all? Why do “soft” concepts like culture matter? Can’t companies simply rely on “hard” facts – the value of clear and efficient institutional rules and incentives? In this Public Paper, we argue that corporate culture is important because human behavior is always co-determined by the prevailing social norms. It is in the company’s interest to shape these norms through a cooperative culture that mobilizes employees’ voluntary cooperation in the pursuit of the firm’s performance goals. Our research provides behavioral foundations for cooperative cultures, based on important scientific insights from contract economics as well as from experimental and behavioral economics.

Ernst Fehr Download

Das Interesse an der Verteilung von Einkommen und Vermögen ist in jüngster Zeit wieder neu entbrannt. Nicht zuletzt, weil nach vielen Jahren der Stabilität die Ungleichheit in vielen Ländern wieder zunimmt. Auch in der Schweiz geniesst die Frage nach der Einkommens- und Vermögensverteilung in der öffentlichen und politischen Diskussion grosse Aufmerksamkeit. Die Analyse über die letzten 100 Jahre zeigt, dass im Ländervergleich das Niveau der Einkommen und Löhne in der Schweiz hoch ist, die Ungleichheit zwischen Arm und Reich wenig stark ausgeprägt ist und sich die Öffnung der Einkommensschere über die Zeit in engen Grenzen hält. Die Ausnahme bilden die Superreichen, deren Anteile in jüngster Zeit deutlich zugenommen haben. Die relativ egalitäre Primärverteilung der Einkommen und Löhne und die föderale Struktur mit ihrem Steuerwettbewerb führen dazu, dass Bedarf und Ausmass der Umverteilung relativ gering ausfallen. Als Kehrseite der Medaille ist die hohe Stabilität wohl ein Grund dafür, dass die Einkommensmobilität im internationalen Vergleich gering ausfällt. Dafür fällt das Durchschnittsniveau der Einkommen rekordhoch aus. Die gefundenen Aussagen gelten verstärkt für die Vermögen. Diese reagieren viel träger auf Einzelereignisse, weil sie über Jahrzehnte aufgebaut werden. Die anhaltende politische Stabilität und die berechenbare Wirtschaftspolitik haben der Schweiz neben sehr hohen Durchschnittsvermögen eine sehr persistente Vermögensverteilung beschert, womit sie unter Industrieländern eine grosse Ausnahme darstellt. Entsprechend ist die Vermögenskonzentration im internationalen Vergleich sehr hoch. Das Ausmass relativiert sich aber, wenn wir die für die Schweiz wichtigen Pensionskassenvermögen miteinbeziehen.

Prof. Reto Föllmi, Dr. Isabel Martínez Download

In the 5th edition of the UBS Center Public Paper Series, Dominic Rohner shows how conflict-torn countries can escape the vicious cycle of war and destruction. Much of the economics and political science literature on wars and conflict has focused on things that are hard for policymakers to change (natural resources, ethnic composition, and weather shocks). While this paper also touches on them, the focus clearly lies on the parts that policymakers can affect. Reading this paper will make you realize that getting the institutions and policies right can bring peace and prosperity, while getting them wrong can bring war and destruction.

Prof. Dominic Rohner Download

The so-called "Rise of the Machines" has fundamentally transformed the organization of work during the last four decades. While enthusiasts are captivated by the new technologies, many worry that these machines will eventually lead to mass unemployment, as robots and computers substitute for human labor. Are computers just about to take over from humans? You will receive the answer to this and related questions from Prof. David Dorn, a specialist in international trade and labor markets.

Prof. David Dorn Download

Economists have typically assumed that the only way for leaders to get people to do things is to use carrots (e.g., pay raises) or sticks (e.g., threats of firing) to incentivize a desired behavior. One of the important contributions of recent research on leadership is to test the extent to which this really is true. Can leaders also motivate and inspire workers by their statements and speeches? Or, is the best way to get followers to do something by creating hard incentives for them? You will receive the answers to these and related questions from Prof. Roberto Weber, a leading specialist in behavioral and experimental economics.

Prof. Roberto Weber Download

Since the world financial crisis of 2007 / 2008, it has become clear that financial crises and the major economic downturns they cause happen neither just in distant countries nor in the distant past. They are part of the economic realities of developed countries in the present. In the second Public Paper, the author presents the latest academic insights into the history of financial crises. What can we learn from the past when it comes to defining strategies and policies for dealing with financial crises? Why is the optimal number of financial crises not zero? You will receive the answers to these and related questions from Prof. Joachim Voth, a leading specialist in financial and economic history.

Prof. Joachim Voth Download

The first UBS Center Public Paper is entitled "China’s Great Convergence and Beyond". And what better topic for the first Public Paper than the (re-)emergence of China as a world economic power? The ascent of China is one of the most important features in today’s global economic and political landscape. In this public paper, the authors present the latest academic insights into what lies behind China’s fast rise and discuss the factors which can sustain or jeopardize its future growth.

You will receive the answers to these and related questions from two globally leading specialists on the Chinese economy, Prof. Kjetil Storesletten and Prof. Fabrizio Zilibotti. In 2012, they were the first western scholars to be awarded the highest ranked Chinese award for economists, the Sun Yefang Economic Science Award.

Zheng Song, Kjetil Storesletten, Yikai Wang, Fabrizio Zilibotti Download