Research surveys

Research surveys consist of overviews of the state of research in a specific IFN key research area. The reports are written by IFN researchers and in many cases have also been published in IFN's newsletter (News & Economics). Some surveys are the result of individual researchers' work with external commisioners or contributions to journals and collective volumes.

Research surveys in Swedish


2020-12 IFN Newsletter No. 2, 2020

Microeconomic Reforms and Business Transformation: Some Lessons from Sweden

Fredrik Heyman, Pehr-Johan Norbäck and Lars Persson

In the aftermath of the Covid 19 crisis, the business sectors in Sweden and Europe will need considerable restructuring and reorganization. These required changes add to the need to keep pace with the evolving digital technologies. Sweden underwent a similar transformation in the early 1990s, when wide-ranging policy reforms were undertaken. What lessons can we draw from them?

IZA World of Labor, No. 65, November, 2020

Public Sector Outsourcing

Panu Poutvaara and Henrik Jordahl

The decision to outsource public provision of services is multifaceted and context dependent. Doing so tends to lower labor intensity and increase its efficiency. Costs are usually lower, but quality problems can affect services like health care, though consumer choice has stimulated innovation and quality in both education and health care. Natural monopolies are less suitable for outsourcing, while network services (public transportation) may be outsourced through public tenders. Though some jobs may be lost in the short term, the long-term effects are generally positive for a wide variety of activities.

Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics, August, 2020

Institutions and Life Satisfaction

Niclas Berggren and Christian Bjørnskov

The degree to which people are satisfied with their lives is affected by many factors. This chapter surveys studies that document the influence of one such factor – formal institutions (i.e., written rules). Such rules, typically laws that enable and constrain political, legal, and economic decision-making, have the potential to affect how satisfied people are with their lives in at least two ways. First, there can be direct effects in that rules either enable certain individual choices or constitute constraints on the individual’s choice set; furthermore, such effects can be of a “symbolic” kind: certain types of rules are valued for their character. Second, there can be indirect effects in that rules shape the overall character of society, through the actions that are, and that are not, taken by people.


2020-05 IFN Newsletter No. 1, 2020

A Minimum Wage for all EU Workers?

Per Skedinger

A recent proposal to regulate minimum wages at the EU level has not been well received in the Nordic countries, in which these wages traditionally have been set in negotiations between unions and employers. This article discusses what research has to say about the employment effects of collectively agreed minimum wages and, in light of these findings, disputes the need for supranational minimum wage fixing in the Union.

IZA World of Labor, January, 2020

How Labor Market Institutions Affect Job Creation and Productivity Growth – An Update

Magnus Henrekson

Economic growth requires factor reallocation across firms and continuous replacement of technologies. Labor market institutions influence economic dynamism by their impact on the supply of a key factor, skilled workers to new and expanding firms, and the shedding of workers from declining and failing firms. Growth-favoring labor market institutions include portable pension plans and other job tenure rights, health insurance untied to the current employer, individualized wage-setting, and public income insurance systems that encourage mobility and risk-taking in the labor market.​

2019-12 IFN Newsletter No. 2, 2019

Deregulating Retail: The Hidden Impact of a Lower Bar to Entry

Florin Maican and Matilda Orth

A key task for economists and policymakers is to predict how markets will respond to regulatory changes. In recent research we analyze the impact of entry regulations on consumers and firms, focusing on product variety. Analyzing rich product-level data, we find that a more liberal entry regime in Swedish retail increases both product variety and efficiency, to the benefit of consumers and firms. Our results suggest that policymakers need to factor in the consequences for product variety when taking regulatory decisions.

2019-05 IFN Newsletter No. 1, 2019

Start-ups for sale!

Pehr-Johan Norbäck, Lars Persson and Roger Svensson

When should entrepreneurs choose to enter the market with a start-up? And when should they sell their invention or business idea? New research on how entrepreneurs decide between entry and sale offers significant insights for policy makers concerned about economic welfare.

Tillväxtanalys, April 2019

International Investment Agreements – Efficient Means to Promote Swedish Growth?

Henrik Horn and Pehr-Johan Norbäck

A central aspect of the Swedish economic integration with the outside world is out- and inward foreign direct investment (FDI). Like many other countries, Sweden has entered into a large number of state-to-state investment agreements that aim to promote FDI by protecting foreign investors against host country policy measures.

2018-11 IFN Newsletter No. 2, 2018

Consumer Awareness as a Complement to Regulation

Erik Lundin

Network industries, such as electricity and water distribution, are typically seen to require regulation to prevent excessive pricing. But new research shows how consumer awareness can also create competitive pressure among local network owners.

Using a unique data set on publicly-owned water utilities in Sweden, the study finds that utilities set prices similar to those in neighboring networks despite the absence of alternative suppliers for consumers. Moreover, this “price mimicking” behavior is more pronounced in municipalities where local policy makers run a higher risk of being voted out of office.

2018-06 IFN Newsletter No 1, 2018

Fit for Management? How Good Health Helps Your Career

Martin Ljunge

There is a well-known positive association between job status and health. The relationship has been taken as evidence of how the work environment shapes health. But newly published research from the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) and the London School of Economics (LSE) establishes an effect in the opposite direction. It finds that better health increases the likelihood of being a supervisor, as well as having more autonomy and more influence at the workplace.

2017-11 IFN Newsletter No. 2, 2017

Extended Right to Vote Kick-started the Economic Development in Sweden

Björn Tyrefors Hinnerich

How important are political rules for economic growth? Recent work at the Research Institute of Industrial Economics supports theories that changes in political institutions can be key determinants of economic institutions and growth.

Björn Tyrefors Hinnerich, Erik Lindgren and Per Pettersson-Lidbom examined the impact of Sweden’s 1862 suffrage reform, which extended the voting rights of industrialists. Using a unique data set they found that the reform was a key factor in Sweden’s growth miracle because it gave industrialists more political clout, kick-starting the process.


2017-06 IFN Newsletter No. 1, 2017

Virtues and Vices of International Investment Agreements

Henrik Horn and Thomas Tangerås

State-to-state investment treaties such as TTIP and CETA have recently come under intense fire in the policy debate. Their vague formulations and highly potent compensation mechanisms are alleged to prevent host countries from pursuing legitimate public policy goals. An ongoing IFN project scrutinizes the economics and politics of investment agreements – and explains why some of the popular criticism seems to be warranted.

Fraser Institute, November 15, 2016

Regulation and Funding of Independent Schools: Lessons from Sweden

Gabriel Heller Sahlgren

As the share of students attending independent schools across Canada increases, the regulatory context of these non-government schools becomes increasingly relevant. Innovation, performance, and efficiency in this education sector can be enhanced by appropriate regulation and funding—or hindered by onerous or inappropriate regulation and funding—and thus other countries with long histories in independent schooling have lessons for Canada. Sweden’s experience is the focus of this paper.

2016-11 IFN Newsletter No. 2, 2016

Healthcare for Newborns has Long-term Benefits

Therese Nilsson

Recent research at IFN finds that free infant care during the first year of life has not only substantial positive short-term health effects, but also positive long-term effects. These services, including the provision of soft inputs to parents, also seem to have positive welfare effects over the life span in other respects, such as through improved cognitive skills and labour market outcomes. The effects are particularly strong for women.

Oxford Handbook of the Economics of Networks , April 2016

Key Players

Yves Zenou

In this chapter, we provide an overview of the literature on key players in networks. We first introduce the theoretical concept of the key player who is the agent that should be targeted by the planner so that, once removed, she will generate the highest level of reduction in total activity.

We also consider another notion of key players where the planner is targeting a set of network nodes that are optimally positioned to quickly diffuse information, attitudes, behaviors or goods. Then, we examine the empirical tests of the key-player policies for criminal networks, education, R&D networks, financial networks and diffusion of microfinance.

We show that implementing such a policy outperforms other standard policies such as targeting the most active agents in a network.

Foundations and Trends in Entrepreneurship, Vol. 12, No. 1

Owner-Level Taxes and Business Activity

Magnus Henrekson and Tino Sanandaji

In some classes of models, taxes at the owner level are "neutral" and have no effect on firm activity. However, this tax neutrality is sensitive to assumptions and no longer holds in more complex models. We review recent research that incorporates greater complexity in studying the link between taxes and business activity — particularly entrepreneurship.


2016-02 IFN Newsletter No. 1, 2016

Understanding Entrepreneurship: Definition, Function and Policy

Magnus Henrekson and Mikael Stenkula

Stimulating entrepreneurship is high on policymakers’ agendas. But what should we mean when we talk about entrepreneurship, and why is it so important? Should policymakers try to influence entrepreneurial activity, and if so, how can this best be done? Magnus Henrekson and Mikael Stenkula analyze these issues in a comprehensive new textbook – Understanding Entrepreneurship – designed as a core text for undergraduate and graduate courses in entrepreneurship and economics.

2015-11 IFN Newsletter No. 2, 2015

Promise Voters to Pad Their Vallets, and They Will Listen

Henrik Jordahl

Do pork barrel politics really change voting behavior? IFN researchers measured the effect of high-profile pledges on child care in Swedish elections – with surprising results, writes Henrik Jordahl.

2015-01 IFN Newsletter No. 1, 2015

Private Equity: Transformation or Tax Evasion?

Martin Olsson and Joacim Tåg

The private equity industry has grown immensely during the last three decades. It is a global phenomenon, making private equity firms important owners of corporate assets. So far, the industry has shown no signs of slowing down, and the trend is likely to continue into the future. However, as private equity buyouts are often controversial, there is a need for research about their real economic consequences, such as effects on firms and workers.

2014-05 IFN Working Paper No. 1020

Local Competiveness Fostered through Local Institutions for Entrepreneurship

Martin Andersson and Magnus Henrekson

We review and assess the role local institutional framework conditions play in fostering local entrepreneurship. The basic premise is that entrepreneurship is a central driver of economic renewal and change, and that institutions affect both the supply and direction of entrepreneurship.

While local institutions always develop and operate against the backdrop of national institutional frameworks, in particular in non-federal states, our review shows that there is plenty of room for local initiatives and policies to influence the entrepreneurial climate locally. This pertains to both formal (e.g., taxes, regulations and stringency of enforcement) and informal (e.g., attitudes and social legitimacy) institutions.

We further argue that the local institutional environment is essential in any local policy aimed to foster productive (high-impact) entrepreneurship. Favorable local institutions not only increase the odds that a region develops or manage to attract entrepreneurial incumbents, but also the odds that a region reaps the full potential of hosting entrepreneurial and knowledge-intensive activities.

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2014-10 IFN Newsletter No. 2, 2014

Sweden proves Piketty "unrealistic and ahistorical"

Andreas Bergh

Capitalism can create prosperity only if there is a clear separation between the market and the political sphere, argues Andreas Bergh in his new book Sweden and the Revival of the Capitalist Welfare State (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2014).

2014-01 IFN Newsletter No. 1, 2014

Market power reduces incentives to invest in nuclear power

Sven-Olof Fridolfsson

The debate about nuclear power focuses mostly on safety, environmental costs for nuclear waste and climate benefits due to reduced carbon emissions. A further potentially important aspect is the consequences associated with the concentrated ownership structure of Nordic electricity plants, including the Swedish nuclear power plants. In this article, Sven-Olof Fridolfsson examines the contested issue of whether market power may lead to underinvestment in nuclear power.

2014-05 IZA World of Labor 2014:38

How Labor Market Institutions Affect Job Creation and Productivity Growth

Magnus Henrekson

Economic growth necessitates extensive churning and restructuring, the bulk of which is about shifts from less to more successful firms within the same industry. Labor market institutions favoring reallocation and dynamism include portability of tenure rights, fully actuarial and portable pension plans, a full decoupling of health insurance from the current employer, decentralized and individualized wage-setting arrangements and government income insurance systems that encourage activation, mobility and risk-taking.

2013-02 IFN Newsletter No. 2, 2013

Effects of Privatisation on Competition and Efficiency

Fredrik Heyman, Pehr-Johan Norbäck and Lars Persson

In this report, the researchers show that privatisations in Sweden have had a positive effect on productivity development but a negative effect on product market competition. These increases in productivity often arise before the actual acquisition. This finding suggests that studies investigating the effects of privatisations at the point in time of the acquisition may underestimate the improvements in efficiency.

2011-01-03 IFN Working Paper No. 858

Government Size and Growth: A Survey and Interpretation of the Evidence

Andreas Bergh and Magnus Henrekson

The literature on the relationship between the size of government and economic growth is full of seemingly contradictory findings. This conflict is largely explained by variations in definitions and the countries studied. An alternative approach – of limiting the focus to studies of the relationship in rich countries, measuring government size as total taxes or total expenditure relative to GDP and relying on panel data estimations with variation over time – reveals a more consistent picture: The most recent studies find a significant negative correlation: An increase in government size by 10 percentage points is associated with a 0.5 to 1 percent lower annual growth rate.

Nordic Economic Policy Review, No. 1, 2011

Employment Consequences of Employment Protection Legislation

Per Skedinger

This article surveys the literature and adds to the evidence on the impact of employment protection legislation on employment. While stringent employment protection contributes to less turnover and job reallocation, the effects on aggregate employment and unemployment over the business cycle are more uncertain. Exploitation of partial reforms and the use of micro data in recent research appear not to have affected results regarding employment and unemployment in any systematic way. Labour market prospects of young people and other marginal groups seem to worsen as a consequence of increased stringency of the legislation.

It is debatable whether marginal groups have gained much from the widespread policy strategy to liberalize regulations of temporary employment and leave regulations of regular employment intact. My own analysis suggests that increased stringency of regulations for regular work is associated with a higher incidence of involuntary temporary employment, particularly among the young.

2010-09-09 IFN Working Paper No. 851

The Real Effects of Private Equity Buyouts

Joacim Tåg

Private equity buyouts have become a common element in the industrial development process. I survey the literature on the real economic effect of buyouts: employment, wages, productivity, and long-run investments. Employment tends to marginally fall after a buyout in most countries studied, with France being the exception. There are clear evidence of productivity gains following a buyout, with part of these being shared with workers through higher wages. The evidence is mixed regarding the effects on long-run investments.

2009-12-10 IFN Working Paper No. 816

Social Networks

Joan de Marti and Yves Zenou

We survey the literature on social networks by putting together the economics, sociological and physics/applied mathematics approaches, showing their similarities and differences.

2009-08-18 IFN Working Paper No. 804

Entrepreneurship and Public Policy

Magnus Henrekson and Mikael Stenkula

Public policy is currently shifting from SME policy towards entrepreneurship policy, which supports entrepreneurship without directing attention to quantitative goals and specific firms or employment groups.

2008-12 Vinnova Report VR 2008:19

Growth Through Research and Development – What Does the Research Literature Say?

Roger Svensson

In 2004, the public sector in the OECD countries spent approximately USD 190 billion on research and development (R&D), which corresponds to almost 30 per cent of all the R&D (USD 650 billion) conducted in these countries. If we examine who carries out R&D, we can see that the private sector accounts for 68 per cent, Government research institutes (laboratories) for 12 percent, universities for 17 per cent and other nonprofit organisations for 3 per cent. Here there are cases where the Government funds R&D in the business/industrial sector and vice versa, but in Europe the overwhelming majority of Government funding goes to Government-controlled universities and research institutes.

2008-02-08 IFN Working Paper No. 733

Gazelles as Job Creators – A Survey and Interpretation of the Evidence

Magnus Henrekson and Dan Johansson

It is often claimed that small and young firms account for a disproportionately large share of net employment growth. We conduct a meta analysis of the empirical evidence regarding whether net employment growth rather is generated by a few rapidly growing firms – so-called Gazelles – that are not necessarily small and young. Gazelles are found to be outstanding job creators. They create all or a large share of new net jobs. On average, Gazelles are younger and smaller than other firms, but it is young age more than small size that is associated with rapid growth. Gazelles also seem to be overrepresented in services.

2008-01-31 IFN Working Paper No. 732

Entrepreneurship and the Theory of Taxation

Magnus Henrekson and Tino Sanandaji

Taxation theory rarely takes entrepreneurship into consideration. We discuss how this omission affects conclusions derived from standard models of capital taxation when applied to entrepreneurial income.

2007-03-08 IFN Policy Paper No. 12

Protection of Property Rights and Growth as Political Equilibria

Andrea Asoni

This paper presents a survey of the literature on property rights and economic growth. It discusses different theoretical mechanisms that relate property rights to economic development. Lack of protection of property rights can result in slow economic growth through different channels: expropriation of private wealth, corruption of civil servants, excessive taxation and barriers to adoption of new technologies. The origins of property rights are also considered. Different theories are illustrated but more attention is paid to the “social conflict view” and its strengths and limitations. The second part of the paper illustrates relevant empirical works on property rights and growth.

2006-12-20 IFN Working Paper No. 684

A Survey of the Literature on the WTO Dispute Settlement System

Henrik Horn and Petros C. Mavroidis

This paper surveys the law and economics literature on WTO dispute settlement. As a background, we first briefly lay out main features of the legal framework, and discuss possible roles of a dispute settlement mechanism. We then discuss the two main themes in the empirical literature on dispute settlement: (i) the determinants of participation by members as complainants, respondents and third parties; and (ii) the role of the DS system for the settling of disputes. The paper finally points to a number of areas that are in need of further research.

Interdisciplinary European Studies

The European Union and the Return of the Nation State


This book explores the complex and ever-changing relationship between the European Union and its member states. The recent surge in tension in this relationship has been prompted by the actions of some member state governments as they question fundamental EU values and principles and refuse to implement common decisions seemingly on the basis of narrowly defined national interests.

About the book


Seminars organized by IFN


To present ongoing research informal brown-bag seminars are held on Mondays at 11:30 am. This is an opportunity for IFN researchers to test ideas and results.

Academically oriented seminars are most of the time held on Wednesdays at 10 am. At these events researchers from IFN and other institutions present their research.

In addition, IFN organizes seminars open to the public. Topics for these are derived from the IFN research.

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