Thank you for visiting! I’m a fourth year PhD Candidate in Economics at the Department of Economics and the Center for Regional Economic Development (CRED) at the University of Bern. I love nature, cooking, and reading. Currently, I am visiting the Wharton School Real Estate Department at the University of Pennsylvania. I am passionate about urban and health economics and try to understand households’ consumption and nutrition. You can download my CV here.
The Apple Does Not Fall Far From the Tree: Intergenerational Persistence of Dietary Habits [ Download ]
with Martina Pons
Inadequate diets harm individual health, generate substantial healthcare costs, and reduce labor market income. Yet, the determinants of unhealthy eating remain poorly understood. This paper provides novel evidence on the intergenerational transmission of dietary choices from parents to children by exploiting unique grocery transaction records matched with administrative data. We document a strong intergenerational diet persistence that exceeds income transmission across all measures we consider. This suggests that parents have a particularly strong impact on their children’s diet. At the same time, substantial heterogeneities in the persistence of diet indicate that the socioeconomic background and location of children may be crucial to foster beneficial eating habits and to break unhealthy ones. We discuss potential mechanisms and show in a counterfactual analysis that only 12% of the intergenerational persistence in diet can be explained by the transmission of income and education. In line with these results, we introduce a habit formation model and argue that the formation of dietary habits during childhood and their slow alteration are key drivers of our findings.
Spatial Frictions in Consumption and Retail Competition [ Download ]
with Maximilian von Ehrlich and Tobias Seidel
In this paper, we empirically quantify spatial consumption frictions and the degree of local retail competition. We exploit a unique data set including 1.5 billion daily transactions in combination with detailed characteristics of more than 3 million households. Our estimates are based on a quasi-experimental approach to estimate the causal effect of store openings. We find that a same-chain store opening in the proximity of households' residences reduces their expenditures at incumbent stores by 30% in the first month. Smaller effects for competitors suggest imperfect substitutability between retail chains. Exploiting more than 350 openings, we identify causal consumption gravity functions, which allow us to quantify spatial consumption areas. We document significant heterogeneities across regions and socio-demographic groups, indicating substantial inequalities in consumption access.
Cross-border shopping allows purchasing comparable goods at lower prices abroad. At the same time, it can reduce domestic consumption, sales, or tax collection. During the Covid-19 pandemic, many countries restricted cross-border movements to mitigate the virus’s spread, thereby also prohibiting cross-border shopping. I exploit the random timing of the Swiss border closure using data on 600 million customer-linked transactions from the largest Swiss retailer to identify patterns in cross-border shopping. I find that grocery expenditures temporarily increased by 10-15% in border regions. Households drive up to 70 minutes to a location across the border, but the distance decay function is non-linear and marginal costs of traveling become negligible after 40 minutes. Cross-border shopping provides an opportunity for consumers from high-price countries to obtain comparable goods at lower prices in foreign markets. At the same time, it can reduce domestic consumption, sales, or tax collection. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many countries restricted cross-border movements to mitigate the virus’s spread, thereby also prohibiting cross-border shopping. This paper exploits the random timing of the Swiss border closure to study heterogeneities in the willingness to travel for lower prices. To this end, I link unique consumer-linked transaction data on one million customers to administrative records. I find that grocery expenditures temporarily increase by 10.5% in border regions, and this effect declines linearly with distance for up to 40 minutes before flattening out. My results show that the effect increases in household size, and decreases in age, income, education, and the cross-border locations’ price index. Furthermore, I find novel evidence that citizens working close to the border combine their commuting trips with cross-border shopping, indicating strategic trip chaining.
Work in Progress
The Dietary Response to Parental Health Shocks