Economics serving society
Paul Dutronc-Postel

Paul Dutronc-Postel

Economist IPP

Paris School of Economics

Campus Jourdan – 48 boulevard Jourdan 75014 Paris

3rd floor, office 17

Phone +33(0)1 80 52 18 64

  • Trade/Migration and development
  • Work organization and employment relations
  • Evaluation of public policies in developing countries
  • Labor and development
  • Political economy of development
  • Economy wide country studies (Brazil, China, India…)
  • Political Economy and Institutions
  • Microeconometrics


Economic performance, land expropriation and bureaucrat promotion in China, with M. Zhuang

We assess the effectiveness of using career incentives to motivate bureaucrat performance. We collect data on the career history of all Chinese Communist Party (CCP) secretaries, who were in power in any of China’s prefectures between 1996 and 2014. We identify the causal effect of career incentives on performance by exploiting variation in the competitiveness of promotions. We find that the presence of fewer competitors increases bureaucrats' promotion likelihood and causes them to adopt a strategy that relies on real estate investment and rural land expropriation, resulting in faster growth in construction employment, higher secondary sector GDP growth; but also suggestive evidence that they lower investment in education, public transport and health. We corroborate our findings using survey and remote sensing data, and present evidence that expropriations are positively correlated with adverse individual outcomes, with arrests of local officials, and with the emergence of ``ghost cities''.

Working Paper available on request.


Large Means-Tested Pensions with Informal Labor Markets: Evidence from South Africa, with A. Tondini

We investigate how means-tested public pensions interact with the informal sector, by exploiting a reform in the non-contributory Old Age Pension system in South Africa, where the eligibility age was lowered from 65 to 60 for men. By employing a difference-in-discontinuities (``diff-in-disc'') approach, we show that this reform triggered a large drop in elderly male employment. This response at the extensive margin comes from informal workers, who drop out of the labor force, while formal employment is mostly unaffected. This heterogeneity is not due to lower wages in the informal sector; at the same level of wages, informal workers drop out, while formal workers do not. This occurs despite the implicit incentive to draw benefits and simultaneously work informal jobs, and even if the means-test is located where formal and informal wages largely overlap. In total, we estimate that the pension reform has driven about 25,000 elderly individuals away from informal jobs.

Working Paper available on request.


Internal migration in China and the 2008/2009 crisis

I study the impact of the 2008/2009 slowdown in the Chinese urban economy on the temporary internal migration patterns of rural households. I leverage the exposition of destination prefectures of rural migrants in terms of exports in the manufacturing sector as a source of variation, and focus on disentangling the income and substitution effects that the economic shock at destination has on migrant households. I find that individuals who were temporary migrant workers in 2008 actually migrate more in 2009 as a consequence of the shock, a fact that is compatible with an important negative income effect. This effect is heterogeneous, as marginal migrants react strongly to the shock, while the migration probability of typical, young male migrants, stays stable. Among the other members of the rural households of these 2008 migrant workers, the ex-ante most likely candidates to migration migrate less, and the least likely to migrate migrate more, a pattern that is also compatible with heterogeneous substitution effects. The shock spills over to non-migrant households, where the most likely candidates to migration are deterred from migrating by the magnitude of the shock in the primary destination of migrants from their village.