L. Rachel Ngai




Associate Professor, London School of Economics

Research Fellow, CEPR.

Member, CFM



Department of Economics, LSE, Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE, UK

Email: L.Ngai"at"lse.ac.uk

Phone: +44 2079557017

Working Papers

·      A Multisector Perspective on Wage Stagnation  (with Orhun Sevinc), June 2021. (Listen to the main idea on Vox Talks). CEPR DP 14855

A nice video on the main idea of the paper produced by the LSE Research.


Abstract: Low-skill workers are concentrated in sectors that experience fast productivity growth and yet their wages have been stagnating. We document evidence from U.S. states showing that a multisector perspective is crucial to understanding this divergence and stagnation. Key to our mechanism is the fall in the relative price of the low-skill sector caused by faster productivity growth. When outputs are complements across sectors, this leads to labor reallocation into the high-skill sector where the marginal product of low-skill workers is stagnant. It accounts for low-skill wage stagnation, its divergence from aggregate labor productivity, and the rise in wage inequality from 1980 to 2010.

·      To Own or to Rent? The Effects of Transaction Taxes on Housing Markets (with Lu Han and Kevin Sheedy), May 2021. 

Abstract: Using transaction records on housing sales and leases, we estimate the effect of Toronto’s imposition of a land transfer tax in 2008. We find two novel effects of an increase in land transfer tax: (1) a rise in  buy-to-let transactions but a fall in owner-occupiers transactions despite the tax applying to both, (2) a simultaneous fall in the price-to-rent ratio and the sales-to-leases ratio. We develop a housing search model with both  ownership and rental markets to show that the land transfer tax can generate lock-in effects both within the ownership market and across the two markets. It accounts for the two new facts by predicting a reduction in mobility within the ownership market and an increase in demand in the rental market which generates a fall in homeownership rate. The implied deadweight loss as a percentage of tax revenue raised is large at 45%, with half due to distortions within the ownership market and remaining half due to distortions across the two markets.

·      Taxes, Subsidies and Gender Gaps in Hours and Wages (with Robert Duval-Hernandez and Lei Fang) May 2021.


        Online Appendix -- Proofs and calibration procedures


        Previous versions: CEPR DP12292. CFM 2018-04 (VoxEU Column). SOEP paper No 962 


Abstract: Using micro data from 17 OECD countries, this paper documents a negative correlation between gender gaps in hours and wages. Using a multi-sector model with home production and leisure, taxes and family care subsidies are shown to be important in accounting for the cross-country differences in the two gender gaps. Higher taxes induce substitution away from market production, especially for women. This fall in women’s relative market hours is accompanied by a rise in women’s relative wage. Higher family care subsidies induce marketization of home production, reconciling the high taxes and low gender hour gap in the Nordic counties.


·      Ins and Outs of Selling Houses: Understanding Housing-Market Volatility  (with Kevin Sheedy), January 2020. CEPR DP 14331

Abstract: This paper documents the cyclical properties of housing-market variables, which are shown to be volatile, persistent, and highly correlated with each other. Is the observed volatility in these variables due to changes in the speed at which houses are sold or changes in the number of houses that are put up for sale? An inflow-outflow decomposition shows that the inflow rate accounts for almost all of the fluctuations in sales volume. The paper then shows that a search-and-matching model with endogenous moving subject to housing demand shocks performs well in explaining fluctuations in housing-market variables. A housing demand shock induces more moving and increases the supply of houses on the market, thus one housing demand shock replicates three correlated reduced-form shocks that would be needed to match the relative volatilities and correlations among key housing-market variables.


Work in progress (email for paper)

·      Structural Transformation and U-shaped Female Employment (with Claudia Olivetti and Barbara Petrongolo) 


·      Home Production, Women's Market Work and Structural Transformation (with Taryn Dinkelman)


·      Time Use and Gender in Africa in Times of Structural Transformation (with Taryn Dinkelman)





·      Rising inequality and trends in leisure (with Timo Boppart). Journal of Economic Growth June 2021, 26(2): 153-185.


Abstract: This paper develops a model that generates rising average leisure time and increasing leisure inequality along a path of balanced growth. Households derive utility from three sources: market goods, home goods and leisure. Home production and leisure are both activities that require time and capital. Households allocate time and capital to these non-market activities, work and rent capital out to the market place. The dynamics are driven by activity-specific TFP growth and a spread in the distribution of household-specific labor market efficiencies. When the spread is set to match the increase in wage inequality across education groups, the model can account for the observed average time series and cross-sectional dynamics of leisure time in the U.S. over the last five decades.


·      The decision to move house and aggregate housing-market dynamics (with Kevin Sheedy).  (VoxEU Column ). Journal of the European Economic Association, Oct 2020, 18(5): 2487-2531.


Previous title "Moving House". CEPR DP10346. CFM 2016-21

Keywords: search and matching, endogenous moving, match quality investment, mismatch


·      China's mobility barriers and employment allocations (with Chris Pissarides and Jin Wang). (VoxChina Column) Journal of the European Economic Association, Oct 2019, 17(5): 1617-53.


       Keywords: Mobility barriers, China's Hukou system, land policy, location-based social subsidies, structural transformation, urbanization



·      Gender Gaps and the Rise of the Service Economy (with Barbara Petrongolo). American Economic Journal -- Macroeconomics, October 2017, 9(4): 1-44.


        2018 AEJ: Macroeconomics Best Paper Award


        A nice video on the main idea of the paper produced by the American Economic Association.


       Previous title "Structural Transformation, Marketization and Female Employment".  CEP DP1204.  CEPR DP 9970.

Keywords: gender gaps, structural transformation, home production, rise in female market hours, fall in male market hours, rise in gender wage ratio


·          Hot and Cold Seasons in the Housing Market (with Silvana Tenreyro). (Web Appendix), American Economic Review, December 2014, 104(12): 3991-4026.

Keywords: seasonality, the U.K. and the U.S. housing markets, match-specific quality, thick-market effect.

·      Taxes, Social Subsidies and the Allocation of Work Time  (with Chris Pissarides), American Economic Journal - Macroeconomics, October 2011, 3(4): 1-26.

   Previous title: "Welfare Policy and the Sectoral Distribution of hours of Work".

Keywords: time allocation, home production, welfare policy (taxes and subsidies), 19 OECD countries


·        Accounting for Research and Productivity Growth Across Industries (with Roberto Samaniego), Review of Economic Dynamics, July 2011, Volume 14, p. 475-495.        

Keywords: cross-industry productivity growth, endogenous growth model, R&D.


·        Mapping Prices into Productivity in Multisector Growth Models (with Roberto Samaniego), Journal of Economic Growth, September 2009, Volume 14, p.183-204.    

Keywords: input-output table, intermediate goods, investment-specific technical change (ISTC).


·        Trends in Hours and Economic Growth (with Chris Pissarides), Review of Economic Dynamics, April 2008, Volume 11, p. 239-256. 

Previous Title: "Trends in Labour Supply and Economic Growth"

Keywords: structural transformation, marketization, home production, trends in aggregate market hours, aggregate balanced growth path.


·        Employment outcomes in the welfare state (with Chris Pissarides), Revue economique 2008, 59(3) p413-436. 

Keywords: marketization, home production, social subsidies and taxes.


·         Public Enterprises and Labour Market Performance (with Johannes Hörner and Claudia Olivetti), International Economic Review, May 2007, Volume 48, No. 2, p. 363-384.

Keywords: Unemployment, public sector employment, economic turbulence


·         Structural Change in a Multisector Model of Growth (with Chris Pissarides), American Economic Review, March 2007, Volume 97, No. 1, p. 429-443.

A longer working paper version: CEPR DP 4763. Previous title: "Balanced Growth with Structural Change".

Keywords: multi-sector growth model, structural change (Kuznets' facts), aggregate balanced growth path (Kaldor's facts)  


·         Barriers and the Transition to Modern Growth, Journal of Monetary Economics, October 2004, Volume 51, Issue 7, p. 1353-1383.

Keywords: cross-country income differences, stagnation to growth, transitional dynamics.


Last update: June 2021