Description: Department of Economics

Description: Johannes Spinnewijn

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| LSE Economics |

| Public Econ at LSE |

Johannes Spinnewijn

Position: Professor of Economics

Research Interests: Public Economics, Social Insurance, Behavioral Economics, Health Economics

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Other Positions, Affiliations and Awards:

Job Opportunity: Pre-doctoral Full-time Research Assistants

  • The Public Finance Group of the Economics Dept at the LSE is hiring full-time pre-doctoral research assistants. Applicants should be completing (or have completed) a Bachelor's or Masters degree and have strong quantitative and programming skills. This position is suitable for people looking to obtain experience in economic research for 1 to 2 years before applying to graduate school in economics. If you would like more information, please visit our website here or see the advert here.


  • The Social Determinants of Choice Quality: Evidence from Health Insurance in the Netherlands (with Ben Handel, Jon Kolstad and Thomas Minten) - VoxEU; ESB, NYTimes, NRC, Financieel Dagblad

    Abstract: Policy makers increasingly offer choice or rely on markets for the provision of impure public goods like insurance, retirement savings or education. Though choice allows for improved surplus from matching individuals to appropriate products, prior work in these markets has documented choice frictions that have the potential to unwind or even reverse these benefits. We use rich administrative data on health insurance choices, health care utilization and myriad socio-demographic factors for the entire country of the Netherlands to study how insurance deductible choice quality relates to these factors. We document that choice quality is low on average but that there is a striking choice quality gradient with respect to socio-economic status. Individuals with higher education levels and more analytic degrees or professions make markedly better decisions, holding constant other key potential factors. Income, net worth, and liquidity are associated with better choices, though to a smaller degree than education. We exploit panel data on individuals' colleagues, neighbors and family members to estimate the causal impacts of peers and one's environment on choices. We find strong impacts on choice quality along each of these three dimensions and show that peer effects accelerate inequality in the sense that more positively influential peer effects are correlated with higher education and income levels. We use our estimates to model the consumer surplus effects of different counterfactual scenarios related to (i) smart defaults and (ii) menu design.

  • Retirement Consumption and Pension Design (with Jonas Kolsrud, Camille Landais and Daniel Reck)

    Abstract: This paper develops and implements a framework that leverages consumption data to evaluate the welfare effects of pension reforms. Several countries have reformed their pension profiles to incentivize later retirement. Using administrative data in Sweden, we find that such pension reforms entail substantial consumption smoothing costs. On average, individuals retiring later have higher consumption levels than those retiring earlier, implying that recent pension reforms redistributed from low- to high-consumption households. We show that the differences in retirement consumption are mostly driven by differential changes in consumption around retirement, and also that the marginal propensities to consume are the lowest for late retirees. Accounting for selection on health and life expectancy further increases the redistributive cost of recent reforms. The cost of incentivizing later retirement is, however, lowest between the early and normal retirement age, where we document a striking non-monotonicity in consumption levels. We find similar patterns in consumption data from other countries, including the non-monotonicity, suggesting our findings are not unique to Sweden.

  • Expectations Data, Labor Market and Job Search - in preparation for the Handbook of Economic Expectations - (with Andi Mueller)

    Abstract: This chapter reviews how expectations data can inform theories of the labor market and job search. The main focus of the chapter is on expectations data regarding outcomes of the job search process, such as expectations related to the chances of finding a job or expectations about job offers. We review the evidence using these measures of expectations and highlight both challenges and opportunities using expectations data in the labor market context. A key advance using expectation data has been the identification of biases in beliefs and learning, and we illustrate their importance in a model of labor market search. We also present recent work demonstrating how expectations data can be leveraged to identify unobserved heterogeneity across job seekers. Throughout the chapter we also aim to highlight promising areas for future research.

Published Papers

Other Publications

Current Courses Taught

  • Public Economics (PhD, LSE course, ec534)
  • Public Economics (MSc, LSE course, ec426)
  • Public Economics (MPA, LSE course, ec410)

Press Coverage/Other Writings

  • "Covid has been a catastrophe. Can it also be an opportunity?" featured in Financial Times (April 2, 2021) (link)
  • "Slechte eigenrisicokeuzes maken de zorgverzekering duurder voor laagopgeleiden" Economische en Statistische Berichten (February 20, 2021) (link)
  • "Job seekers' beliefs and the causes of long-term unemployment" VoxEU (January 29, 2021) (link)
  • "Inequality in choice quality: Evidence from health insurance choices in the Netherlands" VoxEU (November 21, 2020) (link)
  • "Waarom we liever de cijfers dan het buikgevoel laten spreken" Op-ed in De Standaard (August 27, 2019) (link)
  • "Moeten de werkloosheidsuitkeringen toe- of afnemen in de tijd?" Interview in Knack (August 14, 2019) (link)
  • "Uitkeringen zijn geen spelletje hoger/lager" Op-ed in De Standaard (September 24, 2018) (link)
  • "Une baisse plus rapide des allocations est-elle a recommander?" Op-ed in Le Soir (September 24, 2018) (link)
  • "Consumption Data: New Frontiers" VoxEU (April 4, 2018) (link)
  • "Unemployment Insurance and Adverse Selection" VoxEU (February 3, 2018) (link)
  • "Designing Tax Policy in High-Evasion Economies" VoxEU (January 5, 2016) (link), Microeconomic Insights (April 27, 2016) (link)
  • "De mythe van de hangmat" Op-ed in De Standaard (May 15, 2014) (link)
  • "De ivoren toren van economen is een mythe" Op-ed in De Standaard (August 3, 2013) (link)
  • "En als we langdurig werklozen meer zouden betalen?" Op-ed in De Morgen (February 12, 2012) (link)
  • "The Role of Commitment" comment on "On the interaction between subsidiarity and interpersonal solidarity" by Jacques Dreze (link)
  • "Hard cash or a secure job - which is better?" featured in Financial Times (February 7, 2009) (link)

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