nep-ict New Economics Papers
on Information and Communication Technologies
Issue of 2019‒03‒11
eight papers chosen by
Walter Frisch
Universität Wien

  1. Assessing the Gains from E-Commerce By Paul Dolfen; Liran Einav; Peter J. Klenow; Benjamin Klopack; Jonathan D. Levin; Laurence Levin; Wayne Best
  2. The Few-Get-Richer: A Surprising Consequence of Popularity-Based Rankings By Fabrizio Germano; Vicenç Gómez; Gaël Le Mens
  3. Getting Smart About Phones : New Price Indexes and the Allocation of Spending Between Devices and Services Plans in Personal Consumption Expenditures By David M. Byrne; Daniel E. Sichel; Ana M. Aizcorbe
  4. Lies, damned lies, and RCT : une expérience de J-PAL sur le microcrédit rural au Maroc By Florent Bédécarrats; Isabelle Guérin; Solène Morvant-Roux; François Roubaud
  5. Online and physical appropriation: evidence from a vignette experiment on copyright infringement By Michal Krawczyk; Joanna Tyrowicz; Wojciech Hardy
  6. Fintech and Household Resilience to Shocks: Evidence from Digital Loans in Kenya By Prashant Bharadwaj; William Jack; Tavneet Suri
  7. The Value of Terroir. A historical analysis of Bordeaux and Champagne geographical indications By Catherine Haeck; Giulia Meloni; Johan Swinnen
  8. Digital Communication and Swift Trust By Zakaria Babutsidze; Nobuyuki Hanaki; Adam Zylbersztejn

  1. By: Paul Dolfen; Liran Einav; Peter J. Klenow; Benjamin Klopack; Jonathan D. Levin; Laurence Levin; Wayne Best
    Abstract: E-Commerce represents a rapidly growing share of consumer spending in the U.S. We use transactions-level data on credit and debit cards from Visa, Inc. between 2007 and 2017 to quantify the resulting consumer surplus. We estimate that E-Commerce spending reached 8% of consumption by 2017, yielding consumers the equivalent of a 1% permanent boost to their consumption, or over $1,000 per household. While some of the gains arose from saving travel costs of buying from local merchants, most of the gains stemmed from substituting to online merchants. Higher income cardholders gained more, as did consumers in more densely populated counties.
    JEL: L81 L86 O33 O47
    Date: 2019–02
  2. By: Fabrizio Germano; Vicenç Gómez; Gaël Le Mens
    Abstract: Ranking algorithms play a crucial role in online platforms ranging from search engines to recommender systems. In this paper, we identify a surprising consequence of popularity-based rankings: the fewer the items reporting a given signal, the higher the share of the overall traffic they collectively attract. This few-get-richer effect emerges in settings where there are few distinct classes of items (e.g., left-leaning news sources versus right-leaning news sources), and items are ranked based on their popularity. We demonstrate analytically that the few-get-richer effect emerges when people tend to click on top-ranked items and have heterogeneous preferences for the classes of items. Using simulations, we analyze how the strength of the effect changes with assumptions about the setting and human behavior. We also test our predictions experimentally in an online experiment with human participants. Our findings have important implications to understand the spread of misinformation.
    Keywords: search engine, ranking algorithm, misinformation, Internet, fake news, few-get-richer, experiment
    JEL: D83
    Date: 2019–02
  3. By: David M. Byrne; Daniel E. Sichel; Ana M. Aizcorbe
    Abstract: This paper addresses two measurement issues for mobile phones. First, we develop a new mobile phone price index using hedonic quality-adjusted prices for smartphones and a matched-model index for feature phones. Our index falls at an average annual rate of 17 percent during 2010-2018, close to the rate of decline in the price index used in the GDP Accounts. Given relatively flat average prices over this period, our index points to substantial quality improvement. Second, we propose a methodology to disentangle purchases of phones and wireless services when they are bundled together as part of a long-term service contract. Getting the allocation right is especially important for real PCE because the price deflators for phones and wireless services exhibit very different trends. Our adjusted estimates suggest that real PCE spending currently captured in the category Cellular Phone Services increased 4 percentage points faster than is reflected in published data.
    Keywords: Cell phone ; Hedonic indexes ; Mobile phone ; Personal consumption expenditures ; Price indexes ; Quality adjustment ; Smartphone
    JEL: E31 E21 O33
    Date: 2019–02–26
  4. By: Florent Bédécarrats (AFD Paris, France); Isabelle Guérin (IRD CESSMA); Solène Morvant-Roux (School of Social Sciences UNIGE-G3S, University of Geneva); François Roubaud (IRD, UMR DIAL, PSL, Université Paris-Dauphine)
    Abstract: Comment expliquer le succès académique d’une étude randomisée dont la validité, tant interne qu’externe, est pourtant très problématique ? Prenant l’exemple d’une étude menée par le laboratoire J-PAL sur le microcrédit rural marocain, cet article mobilise les outils analytiques de la statistique, de l’économie politique et de la sociologie des sciences pour répondre à cette question. Il décrit l’ensemble de la chaîne de production de l’étude, depuis l’échantillonnage jusqu’à la publication et la dissémination des résultats, en passant par la collecte de données, la saisie et le recodage, les estimations et les interprétations. Il met en évidence une stratégie particulièrement offensive qui permet aux chercheurs de J-PAL de faire table rase du passé, y compris en s’affranchissant d’une « culture de la donnée », de refuser la critique et de contourner les règles de base de l’exercice scientifique tout au long du processus de recherche. Bien au-delà de J-PAL, nos analyses questionnent la supposée supériorité des méthodes randomisées tout en reflétant un malaise grandissant au sein du champ académique, qui parvient de moins en moins à faire respecter les règles de base de l’éthique et de la déontologie scientifique._______english_______How can we explain the academic success of a randomized study whose validity, both internal and external, is very problematic? Drawing on a study conducted on Moroccan rural microcredit by J-PAL, this article uses analytical tools from statistics, political economy and sociology of science to answer this question. It describes the entire study production chain, from sampling, data collection, data entry and recoding, estimates and interpretations to publication and dissemination of results. It highlights a particularly aggressive strategy carried out throughout the study process and in the field of research. This allows J-PAL researchers to put the past behind them, including by freeing themselves from a "data culture", rejecting criticism and bypassing the basic rules of scientific exercise throughout the research process. Well beyond J-PAL, our analyses question the supposed superiority of randomized methods while reflecting a growing unease within the academic field, which is less and less successful in enforcing the basic rules of ethics and scientific deontology.
    Keywords: Randomized Control Trial (RCT), microcrédit, Réplication, Maroc, validité interne, validité externe, sociologie des sciences, microcredit, Replication, Morocco, internal validity, internal validity, sociology of sciences.
    JEL: A11 A14 B41 C18 C93 N27 O16
    Date: 2019–02
  5. By: Michal Krawczyk (University of Warsaw; Group for Research in Applied Economics (GRAPE)); Joanna Tyrowicz (Group for Research in Applied Economics (GRAPE); University of Warsaw; Institut für Arbeitsrecht und Arbeitsbeziehungen in der Europäischen Union (IAAEU); Institute of Labor Economics (IZA)); Wojciech Hardy
    Abstract: This study employs a vignette experiment to inquire, which features of online "piracy" make it ethically discernible from a traditional theft. This question is pertinent since the social norm concerning traditional theft is starkly different from the evidence on ethical evaluation of online "piracy". We specifically distinguish between contextual features of theft, such as for example the physical loss of an item, breach of protection, availability of alternatives, emotional proximity to the victim of theft, etc. We find that some of these dimensions have more weight in ethical judgment, but there are no clear differences between online and traditional theft which could explain discrepancy in the frequency of commitment.
    Keywords: online piracy, ethical judgment, vignette experiment
    JEL: P45 P52 C14 O16
    Date: 2018
  6. By: Prashant Bharadwaj; William Jack; Tavneet Suri
    Abstract: Developing country lenders are taking advantage of fintech tools to create fully digital loans on mobile phones. Using administrative and survey data, we study the take up and impacts of one of the most popular digital loan products in the world, M-Shwari in Kenya. While 34% of those eligible for a loan take it, the loan does not substitute for other credit. The loans improve household resilience: households are 6.3 percentage points less likely to forego expenses due to negative shocks. We conclude that while digital loans improve financial access and resilience, they are not a panacea for greater credit market failures.
    JEL: O16 O33 O55
    Date: 2019–02
  7. By: Catherine Haeck; Giulia Meloni; Johan Swinnen
    Abstract: Previous studies on the value of terroir, or more generally geographical indications (GI), used hedonic techniques. We use historical data and exploit temporal and geographical variations in the introduction of wine GIs in early twentieth century France to study the impact on the price of specific wines in the years and decades following their introduction. We find large effects of GIs on prices of some Champagne wines, but no significant impact on Bordeaux or other Champagne wines.
    Keywords: Treatment effects, Appellations, European agriculture, regulation, wine history
    JEL: C21 L51 L66 N53 Q11 Q18
    Date: 2018
  8. By: Zakaria Babutsidze (SKEMA Business School, Université Côte d’Azur (GREDEG) and OFCE, Sciences Po Paris); Nobuyuki Hanaki (Université Côte d’Azur, CNRS, GREDEG); Adam Zylbersztejn (Univ Lyon, Université Lyon 2, GATE UMR 5824, F-69130 Ecully, France)
    Abstract: We experimentally study the effect of the mode of digital communication on the emergence of swift trust in a principal-agent relationship. We consider three modes of communication: plain text, audio, and video. Communication is pre-play, one-way, and unrestricted, but its content is homogenized across treatments. Overall, both audio and video messages have a positive (and similar) effect on trust compared to plain text; however, the magnitude of these effects depends on the content of agent’s message (promise to act trustworthily vs. no such promise). In all conditions, we observe a positive effect of the agent’s promise on the principal’s trust. We also find that providing visual cues about the sender promotes trust and helps overcome gender favoritism in females.
    Keywords: Digital communication, Trust, Hidden action, Principal-agent relationship, Promise
    JEL: C72 D83
    Date: 2019

This nep-ict issue is ©2019 by Walter Frisch. It is provided as is without any express or implied warranty. It may be freely redistributed in whole or in part for any purpose. If distributed in part, please include this notice.
General information on the NEP project can be found at For comments please write to the director of NEP, Marco Novarese at <>. Put “NEP” in the subject, otherwise your mail may be rejected.
NEP’s infrastructure is sponsored by the School of Economics and Finance of Massey University in New Zealand.