Peer-Reviewed Publications

2. Using Rich Lists to Study the Super-Rich and Top Wealth Inequality: Insights from Switzerland
Joint with Isabel Z. Martínez.
The Review of Economics and Statistics (accepted, February 2024).

Abstract: We present a new data set we built based on Swiss rich lists going back to 1989. We show, among other things, that 60% of the super-rich are heirs—a fraction twice as large as in the US—and that wealth mobility at the very top has declined significantly. We find that top 0.01% wealth shares are higher than previous estimates based on wealth tax statistics suggest. At the same time, we argue that rich list data lead to overestimating wealth inequality. While rich lists are valuable to study the super-rich, we recommend to use reported wealth figures with caution.
Covered by Bilanz, Blick, 10vor10(SRF), NZZ, Beobachter.
Previous versions circulated as: 

1. Wealth-Income Ratios in Free Market Capitalism: Switzerland, 1900-2020 

Joint with Isabel Z. Martínez.The Review of Economics and Statistics (forthcoming, online first: March 15, 2023).
Abstract: We show that over the 20th century, in Switzerland the ratio of private wealth to national income, β, did not follow a U-shaped pattern, thereby contrasting the evolution in most European countries. Instead, the ratio was exceptionally stable at around 500%. We argue that this consistently high β was the result of geopolitical factors combined with Switzerland’s capital friendly policy-making. Since the turn of the century, however, β has been on a rapid rise to reach 793% in 2020. This exceptionally fast increase is mainly driven by large capital gains, especially in housing wealth.
Covered by Sonntagszeitung, Der Bund / Tamedia, Weltwoche. A summary (in German) can be found on Ökonomenstimme.

Working Papers

Mobility Responses to Special Tax Regimes for the Super-Rich: Evidence from Switzerland [UPDATED! April 2024]
Joint with Isabel Z. Martínez. Revise and Resubmit at The Economic Journal.

Abstract: We estimate the sensitivity of the location choice of super-rich foreigners to a special tax regime, under which wealthy foreigners are taxed on their living expenses, rather than their true income and wealth. We are the first to evaluate this controversial Swiss policy (sometimes referred to as “lump-sum” taxation, which bears similarities with “non-dom” taxation in the UK or Italy), and show that when some Swiss cantons abolished this practice, their stock of super-rich foreigners dropped by 30% as a consequence. We find no response for the Swiss super-rich, who were unaffected by the policy change.
Covered by Bilanz, Blick, 10vor10(SRF), NZZ.
Previous versions circulated as: 
Abstract: This paper studies how the introduction of multilateral automatic exchange of information (AEOI) in 2017 affects tax compliance. Exploiting rich tax data, variation generated by the interplay of the Swiss tax amnesty with the AEOI, and employing difference-indifferences designs, I document significant positive compliance effects. At the macro level, the AEOI caused about 107k taxpayers (2% of all) to participate in the amnesty. Together, they disclosed around 35.2 billion Swiss francs in hidden assets—more than 5% of GDP. Further, I show that the behavioral compliance responses persist at the micro level: Once a tax evader enters the amnesty, their wealth increases by more than 50% on average and remains at this higher level in subsequent years. Lastly, I provide evidence that tax evasion is widespread and appears considerably more evenly distributed in Switzerland than in other European countries.
Covered by Tagesanzeiger, Tamedia

Contributions to Books

1. Inequality and Growth

Joint with Reto FoellmiHandbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics. Edited by Klaus F. Zimmermann. Cham: Springer. 2022.
Abstract: What is the relationship between inequality and growth? This question has occupied and fascinated social scientists for more than a century. This article critically reviews the recent empirical and theoretical literature on the complex interplay between inequality and economic growth. Inequality might come in many forms: (top) incomes, wages, wealth, land, or opportunities. At the same time, growth performance could be measured as average growth rates, variability of growth, or the potential for growth to ‘take off’. We consider causality running from inequality to growth; hence, the Kuznets hypothesis is only touched on in passing. The empirical literature estimating the effect of inequality on growth has produced a wide range of results, precluding clear-cut conclusions on the inequality–growth relationship. Consequently, it remains central to understand the underlying economic causes and channels through which (different aspects of) inequality can promote or hamper economic growth. This review aims to provide a broad overview of the contemporary results and an outline for prospective empirical and theoretical work.
Covered by VoxEU Talks. A summary can be found on VoxEU.

Other Publications

Digital Service Taxes (EU Tax Observatory Note)
Joint with Kane Borders, Sofía Balladares, Mona Barake.

Abstract: Digital Service Taxes (DSTs) are a recently introduced fiscal tool designed to tax digital companies. This note collects all publicly available data to take stock of the first few years of DST implementation. Cur- rently, twelve countries – both OECD and non-OECD – have an active DST in place. Current tax revenues from these DSTs are mostly in line with expected revenues, comparable in magnitude to estimated Pillar 1 revenues, and rising rapidly. First experiences (e.g., from the UK) suggest that DSTs can be effective at taxing digital companies that have tended to pay low corporate income tax rates in destination countries in a targeted way. However, the available data remains limited and more research needs to be done to progress towards a full cost-benefit analysis of DSTs.