nep-exp New Economics Papers
on Experimental Economics
Issue of 2020‒01‒06
thirty-two papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Delegation and Coordination with Multiple Threshold Public Goods: Experimental Evidence By Corazzini, Luca; Cotton, Christopher; Reggiani, Tommaso G.
  2. Preferences for observable information in a strategic setting: An experiment By Adam Zylbersztejn; Zakaria Babutsidze; Nobuyuki Hanaki
  3. Estimating Biases in Smoking Cessation: Evidence from a Field Experiment By Frank J. Chaloupka IV; Matthew R. Levy; Justin S. White
  4. Improving Access to Savings through Mobile Money: Experimental Evidence from African Smallholder Farmers By Batista, Catia; Vicente, Pedro C.
  5. Fast then slow: A choice process explanation for the attraction effect By Gaudeul, Alexia; Crosetto, Paolo
  6. Geographical Concentration and Editorial Favoritism within the Field of Laboratory Experimental Economics By Cloos, Janis; Greiff, Matthias; Rusch, Hannes
  7. Communicating Data Uncertainty: Experimental Evidence for U.K. GDP By Galvao, Ana Beatriz; Mitchell, James; Runge, Johnny
  8. Perceived wealth, cognitive sophistication and behavioral inattention By Assenza, Tiziana; Cardaci, Alberto; Delli Gatti, Domenico
  9. Why do the poor vote for low tax rates? A (real-effort task) experiment on income redistribution. By Natalia Jimenez; Elena Molis-Bañales; Angel Solano-Garcia
  10. The effects of parental involvement in homework. Two randomised controlled trials in financial education By Joana Elisa Maldonado; Kristof De Witte; Koen Declercq
  11. Windfalls and work requirements: Evidence from a field experiment in Malawi By Kate Ambler; Susan Godlonton
  12. Learning from Forced Completion vs the Option to Opt Out: An Experiment on a Hybrid of the Game of 21 and the Centipede Game By Flannery, Timothy; Sibert, Cara Elisabeth
  13. Citizens' trade-offs in state merger decisions: Evidence from a randomized survey experiment By Blesse, Sebastian; Heinemann, Friedrich
  14. A Cold Shower for the Hot Hand Fallacy: Robust Evidence that Belief in the Hot Hand is Justified By Miller, Joshua Benjamin; Sanjurjo, Adam
  15. Do Appeals to Donor Benefits Raise More Money than Appeals to Recipient Benefits? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment with Pick.Click.Give. By John A. List; James J. Murphy; Michael K. Price; Alexander G. James
  16. Subjective Beliefs And Confidence When Facts Are Forgotten By Kopylov, Igor; Miller, Joshua Benjamin
  17. Teaching Large-Scale Digital Experimentation to Undergraduates and Graduate Students By Matias, J. Nathan
  18. Community matters: heterogenous impacts of a sanitation intervention By Laura Abramovsky; Britta Augsburg; Melanie Lührmann; Francisco Oteiza; Juan Pablo Rud
  19. Health Insurance and Mortality: Experimental Evidence from Taxpayer Outreach By Jacob Goldin; Ithai Z. Lurie; Janet McCubbin
  20. Older Workers Need Not Apply? Ageist Language in Job Ads and Age Discrimination in Hiring By Ian Burn; Patrick Button; Luis Felipe Munguia Corella; David Neumark
  21. How to improve tax compliance? Evidence from population-wide experiments in Belgium By De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Imbert, Clement; Spinnewijn, Johannes; Tsankova, Teodora; Luts, Maarten
  22. Becoming Through Doing: How Experimental Spaces Enable Organizational Identity Work By Neva Bojovic; Valérie Sabatier; Emmanuel Coblence
  23. Incorporating Conditional Morality into Economic Decisions By David Masclet; David L. Dickinson
  24. Rising US Suicides: Achieving Health Equity By Perry, Seth W; Allison, Stephen; Bastiampillai, Tarun; Wong, Ma-Li; Licinio, Julio; Sharfstein, Steven S.; Wilcox, Holly C.
  25. Factorial Designs, Model Selection, and (Incorrect) Inference in Randomized Experiments By Karthik Muralidharan; Mauricio Romero; Kaspar Wüthrich
  26. Randomization-based causal inference from possibly unbalanced split-plot designs By Rahul Mukherjee; Tirthankar Dasgupta
  27. Does Household Electrification Supercharge Economic Development? By Kenneth Lee; Edward Miguel; Catherine Wolfram
  28. How often does random assignment fail? Estimates and recommendations By Goldberg, Matthew
  29. Bayesian Rapid Optimal Adaptive Design (BROAD): Method and application distinguishing models of risky choice By Ray, Debajyoti; Golovin, Daniel; Krause, Andreas; Camerer, Colin
  30. Utilizing the warm glow of giving to nudge the consumption of food items with ethical claims – an experimental online auction By Iweala, Sarah; Lemken, Dominic
  31. Nudging for tax compliance: A meta-analysis By Antinyan, Armenak; Asatryan, Zareh
  32. On Climate Agreements with Asymmetric Countries: Theory and Experimental Results By Charles Mason

  1. By: Corazzini, Luca (Ca' Foscari University of Venice); Cotton, Christopher (Queen's University); Reggiani, Tommaso G. (Masaryk University)
    Abstract: When multiple charities, social programs and community projects simultaneously vie for funding, donors risk miscoordinating their contributions leading to an inefficient distribution of funding across projects. Community chests and other intermediary organizations facilitate coordination among donors and reduce such risks. To study this, we extend a threshold public goods framework to allow donors to contribute through an intermediary rather than directly to the public goods. Through a series of experiments, we show that the presence of an intermediary increases public good success and subjects' earnings only when the intermediary is formally committed to direct donations to socially beneficial goods. Without such a restriction, the presence of an intermediary has a negative impact, complicating the donation environment, decreasing contributions and public good success.
    Keywords: delegation, threshold public goods, laboratory experiment, fundraising
    JEL: C91 C92 H40 H41 L31
    Date: 2019–12
  2. By: Adam Zylbersztejn (Univ Lyon, Université Lumière Lyon 2, GATE L-SE UMR 5824, 69130 Ecully, France); Zakaria Babutsidze (SKEMA Business School, Université Côte d'Azur (GREDEG) and OFCE, Sciences Po Paris); Nobuyuki Hanaki (Institute of Social and Economic Research, Osaka University)
    Abstract: We experimentally investigate how much value people put in observable information about others in strategic interactions. The incentivized experimental task is to predict an unknown target player's trustworthiness in an earlier hidden action game. In Experiment 1, we vary the source of information about the target player (neutral picture, neutral video, video containing strategic content). The observed prediction accuracy rates then serve as an empirical measure of the objective value of information. In Experiment 2, we elicit the subjective value of information using the standard stated preferences method ("willingness to accept"). While the elicited subjective values are ranked in the same manner as the objective ones, subjects attach value to information which does not help predict target behavior, and exaggerate the value of helpful information.
    Keywords: prediction, observable information, individual characteristics, stated preferences, willingness to accept, experiment
    JEL: C72 D83
    Date: 2019
  3. By: Frank J. Chaloupka IV; Matthew R. Levy; Justin S. White
    Abstract: We conduct a randomized field experiment to quantify biases that affect consumers of addictive goods: present-biased preferences, naïve beliefs regarding present bias, and projection-biased beliefs over future abstinence. These biases reflect departures from the neoclassical benchmark needed to accommodate intertemporal and state-dependent prediction errors and have important theoretical and policy ramifications. Our experiment employs a new approach for remote monitoring to ensure truthful reporting of behavior and valuations, and a novel identification of subjects’ biases based on willingness to pay for future abstinence incentives that serve as partial commitment devices. We find that cigarette smokers overestimate their likelihood of future abstinence by more than 100%, consistent with partially-naïve present-biased preferences. We estimate that on average smokers are present biased and only partially aware of their present bias, with substantial heterogeneity and a positive correlation between the two at the individual level. Smokers mispredict the effects of an abstinence intervention. Ex ante smokers anticipate no effect of the intervention on their future abstinence and ex post fail to recognize the intervention’s positive effect. Our estimates highlight that smokers suffer from a constellation of biases: under their own long-run preferences, smokers’ choices lead to a private welfare loss of $400 per week.
    JEL: C93 D91 I12
    Date: 2019–12
  4. By: Batista, Catia (Universidade Nova de Lisboa); Vicente, Pedro C. (Universidade Nova de Lisboa)
    Abstract: Investment in improved agricultural inputs is infrequent for smallholder farmers in Africa. One barrier may be limited access to formal savings. This is the first study to use a randomized controlled trial to evaluate the impact of using mobile money as a tool to promote agricultural investment. For this purpose, we designed and conducted a field experiment with a sample of smallholder farmers in rural Mozambique. This sample included a set of primary farmers and their closest farming friends. We work with two cross-randomized interventions. The first treatment gave access to a remunerated mobile savings account. The second treatment targeted closest farming friends and gave them access to the exact same interventions as their primary farmer counterparts. We find that the remunerated mobile savings account raised mobile savings, but only while interest was being paid. It also increased agricultural investment in fertilizer, although there was no change in investment in other complementary inputs that were not directly targeted by the intervention, unlike fertilizer. These results suggest that fertilizer salience in the remunerated savings treatment may have been important to focus farmers' (limited) attention on saving some of their harvest proceeds, rather than farmers being financially constrained by a lack of alternative ways to save. Our results also suggest that the network intervention where farming friends had access to non-remunerated mobile money accounts decreased incentives to save and invest in agricultural inputs, likely due to network free-riding because of lower transfer costs within the network. Overall this research shows that tailored mobile money products can be used effectively to improve modern agricultural technology adoption in countries with very low agricultural productivity like Mozambique.
    Keywords: mobile money, social networks, savings and agricultural investment, randomized field experiment, Mozambique, Africa
    JEL: D14 D85 Q12 Q14
    Date: 2019–11
  5. By: Gaudeul, Alexia; Crosetto, Paolo
    Abstract: In this paper we provide choice-process experimental evidence that the attraction effect is a short-term phenomenon, that disappears when individuals are given time and incentives to revise their choices. The attraction (or decoy) effect is the most prominent example of context effects, and it appears when adding a dominated option to a choice set increases the choice share of the now dominant option at the expense of other options. While widely replicated, the attraction effect is usually tested in hypothetical or payoff-irrelevant situations and without following the choice process. We run a laboratory experiment where we incentivize choice, vary the difference in utility between options and track which option participants consider best over time. We find that the effect is a transitory phenomenon that emerges only in the early stages of the choice process to later disappear. Participants are fast then slow: they first choose the dominant option to avoid the dominated decoy and then progressively revise their choices until choice shares come to correspond to price differences only. We expand our analysis by considering differences in utility among options and differences in the presentation of options (numerical or graphical). We also consider differences in the choice processes followed by individuals (intuitive vs. deliberative). This allows us to ascribe more precisely the role of fast and slow cognitive process in the emergence and disappearance of the attraction effect.
    Keywords: asymmetric dominance,attraction effect,induced preferences,choice process,time constraint,rationality,context effects
    JEL: C91 D12 D83
    Date: 2019
  6. By: Cloos, Janis (clausthal university of technology); Greiff, Matthias (clausthal university of technology); Rusch, Hannes (General Economics 1 (Micro))
    Abstract: We examine geographical concentration, scientific quality, and editorial favoritism in the field of experimental economics. We use a novel data set containing all original research papers (N=583) that exclusively used laboratory experiments for data generation and were published in the American Economic Review, Experimental Economics or the Journal of the European Economic Association between 1998 and 2018. The development of geographical concentration is examined using data on authors' affiliations at the time of the respective publication. Results show that research output produced by US-affiliated economists increased slower than overall research output, leading to a decrease in geographical concentration. Several proxies for scientific quality indicate that experiments conducted in Europe are of higher quality than experiments conducted in North America: European experiments rely on a larger total number of participants as well as participants per treatment, and receive more citations compared to experiments conducted in North America. Examining laboratory experiments published in the AER more closely, we find that papers authored by economists with US-affiliations receive significantly fewer citations in the first 5 and 10 years after publication compared to papers by authors from the rest of the world.
    Keywords: laboratory experiments, favoritism, geographical concentration, Methodological standards, network effects
    JEL: A11 A14 C90 I23
    Date: 2019–12–16
  7. By: Galvao, Ana Beatriz (University of Warwick); Mitchell, James (University of Warwick); Runge, Johnny (NIESR)
    Abstract: Many economic statistics are subject to data revisions. But initial estimates of GDP growth are commonly published without any direct quantitative indication of their uncertainty. To assess if and how the public and experts interpret and understand UK GDP data uncertainty, we conduct both a randomised controlled experiment and a targeted expert survey. The surveys are designed to assess: (1) perceptions of the uncertainty in single-valued GDP growth numbers; (2) the public’s interpretation and understanding of uncertainty information communicated in different formats; and (3) how communicating uncertainty affects trust in the data and the producer of these data. We find that the majority of the public understand that there is uncertainty inherent in GDP numbers, but communicating uncertainty information improves the public’s understanding of why data revisions happen. It encourages them not to take GDP point estimates at face-value but does not decrease trust in the data. We find that it is especially helpful to communicate uncertainty information quantitatively using intervals, density strips and bell curves.
    Keywords: data uncertainty ; uncertainty communication ; data revisions ; fan charts
    JEL: C82 E01 D80
    Date: 2019
  8. By: Assenza, Tiziana; Cardaci, Alberto; Delli Gatti, Domenico
    Abstract: By means of a laboratory experiment, we show that, contrary to standard consumer theory, financially equivalent balance sheet profiles may be perceived as non fungible in a controlled frictionless environment with no probabilistic attributes. A large majority of subjects indeed have a bias in the perception of wealth, such that balance sheet composition matters: for a given net worth with values of assets and debt that are financially certain and risk-free, a greater asset-debt ratio implies greater perceived wealth. The predominance of this bias is explained by low cognitive sophistication and great inattention. Moreover, biased subjects are less patient, less debt averse, more likely to increase spending out of unexpected gains and report greater propensities to consume. A standard optimal consumption choice model, enriched with a rational but inattentive agent a la Gabaix (2014, 2019), aligns our key experimental findings.
    Keywords: perceived wealth,cognitive sophistication,behavioral inattention,laboratory experiment,household debt,consumption
    JEL: C91 D91
    Date: 2019
  9. By: Natalia Jimenez (Department of Economics, Universidad Pablo de Olavide & Middlesex University); Elena Molis-Bañales (Departamento de Teoria e Historia Economica, University of Granada & Globe); Angel Solano-Garcia (Departamento de Teoria e Historia Economica, University of Granada & Globe)
    Abstract: The main purpose of this paper is to shed some light on the voting behavior of low-income voters over income redistribution. To this end, we test a model based on Meltzer and Richard’s (1981) framework through a lab experiment in which individuals vote over two exogenous tax rates and their pre-tax income is determined according to their performance in a real-effort task. We classify individuals into high-skilled and low-skilled participants according to their performance in a tournament at the beginning of the experiment. We find that a large proportion of low-skilled workers vote for the lowest tax rate (the one that gives them the lowest payoff), especially when the alternative tax rate is very high. However, this proportion is significantly reduced in treatments in which the subjects are given extra information about how the tax operates in redistributing income. This result suggests that the lack of information about the role of taxes in income redistribution may be an important factor in explaining the counter-intuitive voting behavior of low-income voters over income redistribution. We also find that both the prospect of upward mobility and the belief in the negative effect of taxes on productivity make low-income voters support low tax rates, especially when the alternative tax rate is very high.
    Keywords: income inequality, income redistribution, voting, taxation, real-effort task.
    JEL: C92 D72 H30 J41
    Date: 2019–12
  10. By: Joana Elisa Maldonado; Kristof De Witte; Koen Declercq
    Abstract: Based on two randomised controlled trials with a total of 2,779 students from grade 8 and 9 in Flanders, we provide causal evidence on the effects of parental involvement on students’ learning in a financial education course. Using an experimental design with three treatment groups, the impact of parental involvement in homework is distinguished from the standalone impact of the classroom intervention and homework itself. Intention-to-treat analysis reveals that the intervention effectively improves students’ knowledge and behaviour. The classroom intervention used in conjugation with a homework assignment that the students complete with the help of their parents increases financial literacy scores by 0.37 standard deviations. On average, the added value of involving parents in homework is not significant, but involving parents has significant positive effects on behaviour for disadvantaged students. As a potential underlying mechanism it is observed that the parental involvement intervention significantly increases family communication between students and parents about the course topics.
    Keywords: Financial Literacy; Parental Involvement; Randomised Controlled Trial; Education
    Date: 2019
  11. By: Kate Ambler (International Food Policy Research Institute); Susan Godlonton (Williams College)
    Abstract: Though the differential impacts of earned and unearned income have long been of interest to economists and policymakers, the study of this question is often conflated by other differences between the income streams. We conduct a field experiment in Malawi in which we exaimine the differential short-term effect of earned and unearned income on the allocation of expenditures and labor supply, holding all other factors constant. All participants receive an equal size cash payment and make the same time investment; half are required to work, and half are not. We find little evidence that income source affects the allocation of expenditures across categories, but do find that the work requirement increases overall expenditures immediately following the payment. Conversely, the work requirement results in a reallocation of labor supply away from household work in the very short term.
    Keywords: Labor Supply, Agriculture, Malawi
    Date: 2019–12–16
  12. By: Flannery, Timothy; Sibert, Cara Elisabeth
    Abstract: This study examines how the option to opt out facilitates learning in the Game of 21. In the treatment, players have the opportunity to opt out of the game at any time, similar to a centipede game, and receive a decreasing payment for doing so as the game progresses. Players in the control play the standard Game of 21. Additionally, the experiment introduces a novel concept of a "dumb computer" that always makes suboptimal decisions. Performance against the "dumb computer" determines the level of foresight of subjects in order to compare the amount of learning between the hybrid centipede 21 game and the traditional Game of 21. Results indicate players drop out strategically and earlier as the game progresses with a few ending immediately as the backward induction solution predicts; however, contrary to our predictions, players learn better when forced to finish the game. Some of the difference in learning occurs due to a small set of players giving up when they have the option to opt out.
    Date: 2019–06–26
  13. By: Blesse, Sebastian; Heinemann, Friedrich
    Abstract: Voters dealing with jurisdictional merger decisions face a trade-off between economies of scale and preference costs. Larger jurisdictions may offer cost advantages, yet the downside is that policies in larger units may be less aligned to voter preferences. Our study is the first to provide evidence on this trade-off on the individual level in an experimental set-up. For this purpose, we designed a randomized survey experiment and inquired about preferences on state mergers on a representative sample of the German population. In line with the decentralization theorem, the support for mergers increases with cost savings and falls with preference costs measured as political alignment, respectively. The effects of the cost treatments on merger support are lower for respondents from states that are actually discussed as merger candidates. Effects are also weaker for citizens who have a positive view of their own political participation under the status quo.
    Keywords: state-level mergers,optimal design of federations,economies of scale,political representation,survey experiment,decentralization theorem
    JEL: H11 H77
    Date: 2019
  14. By: Miller, Joshua Benjamin (The University of Melbourne); Sanjurjo, Adam
    Abstract: The hot hand fallacy has long been considered a massive and widespread cognitive illusion with important implications in economics and finance. We develop a novel empirical strategy to correct for several fundamental limitations in the canonical study and replications, conduct an improved field experiment to test for the hot hand in its original domain (basketball shooting), and gather all extant controlled shooting data. We find strong evidence of hot hand shooting in every dataset, including on the individual level. Also, in a novel study of beliefs, we find that expert observers can predict (out-of-sample) which shooters are hotter.
    Date: 2018–10–30
  15. By: John A. List; James J. Murphy; Michael K. Price; Alexander G. James
    Abstract: We partnered with Alaska’s Pick.Click.Give. Charitable Contributions Program to implement a statewide natural field experiment with 540,000 Alaskans designed to explore whether targeted appeals emphasizing donor benefits through warm glow impact donations. Results highlight the relative import of appeals to self. Individuals who received such an appeal were 4.5 percent more likely to give and gave 20 percent more than counterparts in the control group. Yet, a message that instead appealed to recipient benefits had no effect on average donations relative to the control group. We also find evidence of long-run effects of warm glow appeals in the subsequent year.
    JEL: C93 D03 D64 H41 L3
    Date: 2019–12
  16. By: Kopylov, Igor; Miller, Joshua Benjamin (The University of Melbourne)
    Abstract: Forgetting a piece of decision-relevant information is a salient source of uncertainty that should influence one's beliefs, confidence, and ambiguity attitudes. To investigate this, we run several experiments where people bet on propositions (facts) that they cannot recall with certainty. We use betting preferences to infer subjects' revealed beliefs and their revealed confidence in these beliefs. Forgetting is induced via interference tasks and time delays (up to one year). We observe a natural memory decay pattern where beliefs become less accurate and confidence is reduced as well. Moreover, we find a form of comparative ignorance where subjects are more ambiguity averse when they cannot recall the truth rather than never having learnt it. In a different vein, we identify an overconfidence pattern: on average, subjects overpay for bets on propositions that they believe in, but underpay for the opposite bets. We formulate a two-signal behavioral model of forgetting that generates all of these patterns. It suggests new testable hypotheses that are confirmed by our data.
    Date: 2018–12–29
  17. By: Matias, J. Nathan (Princeton University)
    Abstract: In this extended abstract, I review syllabi of classes about digital experimentation for their relevance to contemporary product and policy evaluation. I also describe SOC 412, a novel cross-disciplinary undergraduate and graduate class that I teach at Princeton University on the craft and ethics of digital experimentation at scale. In the class, students learn to conduct multiple experiments and work in teams to design a large-scale field experiment online. The class is also a test environment for open educational resources for teaching online field experiments. I conclude the paper by identifying practical steps that academic educators and industry researchers can take to advance and spread undergraduate and graduate education in digital experimentation.
    Date: 2018–09–28
  18. By: Laura Abramovsky (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies); Britta Augsburg (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies); Melanie Lührmann (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Royal Holloway, University of London); Francisco Oteiza (Institute for Fiscal Studies and EDePo @ Institute for Fiscal Studies); Juan Pablo Rud (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Royal Holloway)
    Abstract: We study the effectiveness of a community-level information intervention aimed at improving sanitation using a cluster-randomized controlled trial (RCT) in Nigerian communities. The intervention, Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS), is currently part of national sanitation policy in more than 25 countries. While average impacts are exiguous almost three years after implementation at scale, the results hide important heterogeneity: the intervention has strong and lasting effects on sanitation practices in poorer communities. These are realized through increased sanitation investments. We show that community wealth, widely available in secondary data, is a key statistic for effective intervention targeting. Using data from five other similar randomized interventions in various contexts, we find that community-level wealth heterogeneity can rationalize the wide range of impact estimates in the literature. This exercise provides plausible external validity to our findings, with implications for intervention scale-up. Page updated 19/07/2019
    Keywords: External validity, Heterogeneous Treatment Effects, Sanitation, Information, Cluster- Randomized Control Trial.
    Date: 2019–06–06
  19. By: Jacob Goldin; Ithai Z. Lurie; Janet McCubbin
    Abstract: We evaluate a randomized pilot study in which the IRS sent informational letters to 3.9 million taxpayers who paid a tax penalty for lacking health insurance coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Drawing on administrative data, we study the effect of the intervention on taxpayers’ subsequent health insurance enrollment and mortality. We find the intervention led to increased coverage in the two years following treatment and that this additional coverage reduced mortality among middle-aged adults over the same time period. Our results provide the first experimental evidence that health insurance reduces mortality.
    JEL: H2 I12 I13
    Date: 2019–12
  20. By: Ian Burn; Patrick Button; Luis Felipe Munguia Corella; David Neumark
    Abstract: We study the relationships between ageist stereotypes – as reflected in the language used in job ads – and age discrimination in hiring, exploiting the text of job ads and differences in callbacks to older and younger job applicants from a previous resume (correspondence study) field experiment (Neumark, Burn, and Button, 2019). Our analysis uses methods from computational linguistics and machine learning to directly identify, in a field-experiment setting, ageist stereotypes that underlie age discrimination in hiring. We find evidence that language related to stereotypes of older workers sometimes predicts discrimination against older workers. For men, our evidence points most strongly to age stereotypes about physical ability, communication skills, and technology predicting age discrimination, and for women, age stereotypes about communication skills and technology. The method we develop provides a framework for applied researchers analyzing textual data, highlighting the usefulness of various computer science techniques for empirical economics research.
    JEL: J14 J23 J7 J78
    Date: 2019–12
  21. By: De Neve, Jan-Emmanuel; Imbert, Clement; Spinnewijn, Johannes; Tsankova, Teodora; Luts, Maarten
    Abstract: We study the impact of deterrence, tax morale, and simplifying information on tax compliance. We ran _ve experiments spanning the tax process which varied the communication of the tax administration with all income taxpayers in Belgium. A consistent picture emerges across experiments: (i) simplifying communication increases compliance, (ii) deterrence messages have an additional positive effect, (iii) invoking tax morale is not effective. Even tax morale messages that improve knowledge and appreciation of public services do not raise compliance. In fact, heterogeneity analysis with causal forests shows that tax morale treatments backfire for most taxpayers. In contrast, simplification has large positive effects on compliance, which diminish over time due to follow-up enforcement. A discontinuity in enforcement intensity, combined with the experimental variation, allows us to compare simplification with standard enforcement measures. Simplification is far more cost-effective, allowing for substantial savings on enforcement costs, and also improves compliance in the next tax cycle.
    Keywords: tax compliance; field experiements; simplification; enforcement
    JEL: C93 D91 H21
    Date: 2019–05
  22. By: Neva Bojovic (Kedge BS - Kedge Business School, IREGE - Institut de Recherche en Gestion et en Economie - USMB [Université de Savoie] [Université de Chambéry] - Université Savoie Mont Blanc); Valérie Sabatier (GEM - Grenoble Ecole de Management); Emmanuel Coblence (Institut Supérieur de Gestion Paris)
    Abstract: This qualitative study of a magazine publishing incumbent shows how organizational identity work can be triggered when organizational members engage in business model experimentation within the bounded social setting of experimental space. The study adds to the understanding of the strategy-identity nexus by expanding on the view of business models as cognitive tools to business models as tools for becoming and by understanding the role of experimental spaces as holding environments for organizational identity work. We show how an experimental space engages organizational members in experimental practices (e.g., cognitive, material, and experiential). As firms experiment with "what they do", organizational members progressively confront the existing organizational identity in the following ways: they engage in practices of organizational identity work by coping with the loss of the old identity, they play with possible organizational identities, and they allow new organizational identity aspirations to emerge. In these ways, experimental spaces act as an organizational identity work space that eventually enables organizational identity change. We identify two mechanisms (i.e., grounding and releasing) by which an organizational identity work space emerges and leads to the establishment of a renewed organizational identity.
    Keywords: organizational identity,organizational identity work space,experimental spaces,business model,business model experimentation,media industry
    Date: 2019
  23. By: David Masclet (Univ Rennes, CNRS, CREM - UMR 6211, F-35000 Rennes, France); David L. Dickinson (Appalachian State University, Department of Economics, USA)
    Abstract: We present a framework that incorporates both moral motivations and fairness considerations into utility. The main idea is that individuals face a preference trade-off between their material individual interest and their desire to follow moral norms. In our model, we assume that moral motivation is conditional and may be influenced by others’ actions. Specifically, in our framework moral obligation is a combination of two main components: an autonomous component and a social influence component that captures the influence of others. Our framework is able to explain many stylized results in the literature and to improve theories of economic behavior.
    Keywords: Fairness; Ethical Decision Making; Moral Motivation; Behavioral Economics
    JEL: B3 D6 D9
    Date: 2019–12
  24. By: Perry, Seth W; Allison, Stephen; Bastiampillai, Tarun; Wong, Ma-Li; Licinio, Julio; Sharfstein, Steven S.; Wilcox, Holly C.
    Abstract: Evidence suggests that increased availability of mental health treatment has not significantly reduced depression prevalence and suicide in the US, and that significant personal (i.e., stigma) or practical/logistical barriers to effective mental health care remain. Mental health treatment has increased in the US since the early 1990s with greater use of antidepressant medications, especially SSRIs, however suicide rates continue to climb, with significant gender, ethnic, geographic, socioeconomic, and other health disparities. Depression rates are at best stable, but are increasing in certain subpopulations such as youths ages 12-17. Combating these distressing trends to achieve health equity will require more attention to promising and evidence-based, sustainable, proactive, practical solutions that address the varied causes, demographics, and differential risk factors and mechanisms of suicide deaths. Herein we explore sociodemographic disparities that exist in suicide deaths, with emphasis on two of the largest modifiable targets for suicide prevention: untreated or undertreated depression, and access to the lethal means (firearms) that cause more suicide deaths than all other means combined, and thus pose the greatest threat to individual and public health. Furthermore, we newly define increased or unsafe (i.e. disparate) access to firearms as a suicide health disparity that promotes health inequities. To achieve the greatest results in suicide prevention across all groups, we need 1) more emphasis on policies and universal programs shown to reduce suicidal behaviors, and 2) enhanced focus on the two largest modifiable targets for suicide prevention: depression and firearms.
    Date: 2019–11–23
  25. By: Karthik Muralidharan; Mauricio Romero; Kaspar Wüthrich
    Abstract: Factorial designs are widely used for studying multiple treatments in one experiment. While “long” model t-tests provide valid inferences, t-tests using the “short” model (ignoring interactions) yield higher power if interactions are zero, but incorrect inferences otherwise. Of 27 factorial experiments published in top-5 journals (2007--2017), 19 use the short model. After including all interactions, over half their results lose significance. Modest local power improvements over the long model are possible, but with lower power for most values of the interaction. If interactions are not of interest, leaving the interaction cells empty yields valid inferences and global power improvements.
    JEL: C12 C18 C90 C93
    Date: 2019–12
  26. By: Rahul Mukherjee (Indian Institute of Management Calcutta); Tirthankar Dasgupta (Rutgers University)
    Abstract: Factorial experiments are currently undergoing a popularity surge in social and behavioral sciences. A key challenge here arises from randomization restrictions. Consider an experiment to assess the causal effects of two factors, expert review and teacher bonus scheme, on 40 schools in a state. A completely randomized assignment can disperse the schools undergoing review all over the state, thus entailing prohibitively high cost. A practical alternative is to divide these schools by geographic proximity into four groups called whole-plots, two of which are randomly assigned to expert review. The teacher bonus scheme is then applied to half of the schools chosen randomly within each whole-plot. This is an example of a classic split-plot design. Randomization-based analysis, avoiding rigid linear model assumptions, is the most natural methodology to draw causal inference from finite population split-plot experiments as above. Recently, Zhao, Ding, Mukerjee and Dasgupta (2018, Annals of Statistics) investigated this for balanced split-plot designs, where whole-plots are of equal size. However, this can often pose practical difficulty in social sciences. Thus, if the 40 schools are spread over four counties with 8, 8, 12 and 12 schools, then each county is a natural whole-plot, the design is unbalanced, and the analysis in Zhao et al. (2018) is not applicable.We investigate causal inference in split-plot designs that are possibly unbalanced, using the potential outcomes framework. We start with an unbiased estimator of a typical treatment contrast and first examine how far Zhao et al.?s (2018) approach can be adapted to our more general setup. It is seen that this approach, aided by a variable transformation, yields an expression for the sampling variance of the treatment contrast estimator but runs into difficulty in variance estimation. Specifically, as in the balanced case and elsewhere in causal inference (Mukerjee, Dasgupta and Rubin, 2018, Journal of the American Statistical Association), the resulting variance estimator is conservative, i.e., has a nonnegative bias. But, unlike most standard situations, the bias does not vanish even under strict additivity of treatment effects. To overcome this problem, a careful matrix analysis is employed leading to a new variance estimator which is also conservative, but enjoys the nice property of becoming unbiased under a condition even milder than strict additivity. We also discuss the issue of minimaxity with a view to controlling the bias in variance estimation, and explore the bias via simulations.
    Keywords: Bias, factorial experiment, finite population, minimaxity, potential outcome, variance estimation.
    JEL: C10 C13 C90
    Date: 2019–10
  27. By: Kenneth Lee; Edward Miguel; Catherine Wolfram
    Abstract: In recent years, electrification has re-emerged as a key priority in low-income countries, with a particular focus on electrifying households. Yet the microeconomic literature examining the impacts of electrifying households on economic development has produced a set of conflicting results. Does household electrification lead to measurable gains in living standards or not? Focusing on grid electrification, we discuss how the divergent conclusions across the literature can be explained by differences in methods, interventions, potential for spillovers, and populations. We then use experimental data from Lee, Miguel, and Wolfram (2019) — a field experiment that connected randomly-selected households to the grid in rural Kenya — to show that impacts can vary even across individuals in neighboring villages. Specifically, we show that households that were willing to pay more for a grid electrification may gain more from electrification compared to households that would only connect for free. We conclude that access to household electrification alone is not enough to drive meaningful gains in development outcomes. Instead, future initiatives may work better if paired with complementary inputs that allow people to do more with power.
    JEL: O13 Q40
    Date: 2019–12
  28. By: Goldberg, Matthew
    Abstract: A fundamental goal of the scientific process is to make causal inferences. Random assignment to experimental conditions has been taken to be a gold-standard technique for establishing causality. Despite this, it is unclear how often random assignment fails to eliminate non-trivial differences between experimental conditions. Further, it is unknown to what extent larger sample sizes mitigates this issue. Chance differences between experimental conditions may be especially important when investigating topics that are highly sample-dependent, such as climate change and other politicized issues. Three studies examine simulated data (Study 1), three real datasets from original environmental psychology experiments (Study 2), and one nationally-representative dataset (Study 3) and find that differences between conditions that remain after random assignment are surprisingly common for sample sizes typical of social psychological scientific experiments. Methods and practices for identifying and mitigating such differences are discussed, and point to implications that are especially relevant to experiments in social and environmental psychology.
    Date: 2019–04–05
  29. By: Ray, Debajyoti; Golovin, Daniel; Krause, Andreas; Camerer, Colin
    Abstract: Economic surveys and experiments usually present fixed questions to respondents. Rapid computation now allows adaptively optimized questions, based on previous responses, to maximize expected information. We describe a novel method of this type introduced in computer science, and apply it experimentally to six theories of risky choice. The EC2 method creates equivalence classes, each consisting of a true theory and its noisy-response perturbations, and chooses questions with the goal of distinguishing between equivalence classes by cutting edges connecting them. The edge-cutting information measure is adaptively submodular, which enables a provable performance bound and “lazy” evaluation which saves computation. The experimental data show that most subjects, making only 30 choices, can be reliably classified as choosing according to EV or two variants of prospect theory. We also show that it is difficult for subjects to manipulate by misreporting preferences, and find no evidence of manipulation.
    Date: 2019–11–18
  30. By: Iweala, Sarah; Lemken, Dominic
    Keywords: Food Consumption/Nutrition/Food Safety
    Date: 2019–09
  31. By: Antinyan, Armenak; Asatryan, Zareh
    Abstract: Taxpayer nudges - behavioral interventions that aim to increase tax compliance without changing the underlying economic incentives of taxpayers - are used increasingly by governments because of their potential cost-effectiveness in raising tax revenue. We collect about a thousand treatment effect estimates from over 40 randomized controlled trials, and in a meta-analytical framework show that non-deterrence nudges - interventions pointing to elements of individual tax morale - are on average ineffective in curbing tax evasion, while deterrence nudges - interventions emphasizing traditional determinants of compliance such as audit probabilities and penalty rates - are potent catalysts of compliance. These effects are, however, fairly small in magnitude. Deterrence nudges increase the probability of compliance by only 1.5-2.5 percentage points more than non-deterrence nudges, while the effects are likely to be bound to the short-run, and are somewhat inflated by selective reporting of results.
    Keywords: Tax compliance,Randomized control trials,Nudging,Meta-analysis
    JEL: C93 D91 H26
    Date: 2019
  32. By: Charles Mason (University of Wyoming)
    Abstract: I model International climate agreements among asymmetric countries, each of whom must select a profile of CO2 emissions over time. Predictions from this model imply larger reductions by "large" countries, but larger proportional reductions by "small" countries. I then analyze experimental data that sheds light on this issue. In contrast to the theoretical predictions, I find that smaller countries do not reduce emissions proportionately to their Nash level, and so the burden falls mostly on larger countries. Moreover, combined emissions are indistinguishable from the one-shot Nash emissions. This pessimistic outcome extends the commonly-found result in the literature that negotiations in similar repeated games (but with symmetric players) generally do not offer much hope for meaningful agreements, unless the effects are modest. One possible explanation for this pattern of results is inequality aversion.
    Keywords: Climate Negotiations, Repeated Game, Experiments
    JEL: D8 L15
    Date: 2019–12

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