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Mayara Felix

Mayara Felix

Mayara Felix is a Post-doctoral Research Associate at the Cowles Foundation for Research in Economics at Yale University. She earned a PhD in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in June 2021. Prior to her current position, Felix was a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at Harvard University in academic year 2021-2022 and at Princeton University in academic year 2022-2023. Beginning in 2024, she will join the faculty at Yale University as an Assistant Professor of Economics and Global Affairs.

Felix’s research is in trade and development, with a special focus on policies that affect firms and the market power they might command over workers or consumers.

In her job market paper “Trade, Labor Market Concentration, and Wages,” she studies the effects of trade on labor market concentration, and consequently its effects on wages. She uses the case study of Brazil in the 1990s, after the country passed new trade liberalization policies. Overall, her paper shows that opening trade increased local labor market concentration---as import-competing firms shrank or exited, while exporting firms, who are much larger, were less negatively affected. However, the increase in labor market concentration did not translate into meaningfully large increases in firm labor market power. While opening to trade reduced wages in labor markets exposed to import competition, most of this wage decline was not driven by increased firm market power. Instead, nearly all of it is accounted for by reductions the marginal revenue product of labor (e.g., declines in price markups or negative shocks to firm production or productivity).

In “Tax Administration versus Tax Rates: Evidence from Corporate Taxation in Indonesia” (AER, 2021), written jointly with M. Chatib Basri, Rema Hanna, and Benjamin Olken, Felix and her coauthors explore the effects of improving tax administration versus raising top tax rates in Indonesia. In essence, this paper looks at whether improved staff-to-tax payer ratios provided significant deterrence to tax evasion and avoidance – therefore increasing tax revenue. They find that the assignment of taxpayers to a higher-enforcement tax office more than doubled tax reporting and tax payment, and at a very low implementation cost. These effects also slightly increase over time, along with firm employment. They also document a decreased correlation between enforcement and firm size (a correlation that arises from overburdened tax officers focusing on large firms only for auditing). The authors then contrast these findings against those of a concomitant reform of the corporate tax rates schedule: they find that the government would have had to increase the top marginal corporate income tax rate levied on all firms by 8 percentage points to raise as much revenue as they did with the tax administration reform, which only targeted a subset of firms within each region. Overall, this paper shows that improved tax administration can have large effects on revenue collection in developing countries, at a low implementation cost and with less distortionary effects than increasing tax rates.

Other working papers and ongoing projects by Mayara Felix include: