Description: Department of Economics

Description: Johannes Spinnewijn

| CV |

| Working Papers|

| In Progress|

| Published Papers |

| Other Publications |

| Teaching|

| Miscellaneous|

| LSE Economics |

| Public Econ at LSE |

Johannes Spinnewijn

Position: Associate Professor of Economics (with tenure)

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

Contact details:

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: Market provision of impure public goods such as insurance, retirement savings and education is common and growing as policy makers seek to offer more choice and gain efficiencies. This approach induces an important trade-off between improved surplus from matching individuals to products and misallocation due to well documented choice errors in these markets. We study this trade-off in the health insurance market in the Netherlands, with a specific focus on misallocation and inequality. We characterize choice quality as a function of predicted health risk and leverage rich administrative data to study how it depends on individual human capital, socioeconomic status and social and information networks. We find that choice quality is low on average, with many people foregoing options that deliver substantive value. We also find a strong choice quality gradient with respect to key socioeconomic variables. Individuals with higher education levels and more analytic degrees or professions make markedly better decisions. Social influence on choices further increases inequality in decision making. Using panel variation in exposure to peers we find strong within firm, location and family impacts on choice quality. Finally, we use our estimates to model the consumer surplus effects of different counterfactual scenarios. While smart default policies could improve welfare substantially, including the choice of a high-deductible option delivers little welfare gain, especially for low-income individuals who make lower quality choices and are in worse health.

  • The Income Gradient in Mortality during the Covid-19 Crisis: Evidence from Belgium (with Andre Decoster and Thomas Minten) - Leuvense Economisch Standpunten; Knack - under revision for special Covid issue in the Journal of Economic Inequality

    Abstract: We use population-wide data from linked administrative registers to study the distributional pattern of mortality before and during the Covid-19 pandemic in Belgium. Excess mortality is only found among those aged 65 and over. For this group, we find a significant negative income gradient in excess mortality, with excess deaths in the bottom income decile more than twice as high as in the top income decile for both men and women. However, given the high inequality in mortality in normal times, the income gradient in all-cause mortality is only marginally steeper during the peak of the health crisis when expressed in relative terms. Leveraging our individual-level data, we gauge the robustness of our results for other socioeconomic factors and decompose the role of individual vs. local effects. We provide direct evidence that geographic location effects on individual mortality are particularly strong during the Covid-19 pandemic, channeling through the local number of Covid infections. This makes inference about the income gradient in excess mortality based on geographic variation misguided.

Published Papers

Other Publications

Work in Progress

  • Retirement Consumption and Pension Design (with J. Kolsrud, C. Landais and D. Reck)

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

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)

© 2019 London School of Economics. All rights reserved. Picture by Hatim Kaghat.