nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2013‒01‒07
five papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Cognitive Mobility: Labor Market Responses to Supply Shocks in the Space of Ideas By Kirk B. Doran; George J. Borjas
  2. Breastfeeding and child cognitive outcomes: Evidence from a hospital-based breastfeeding support policy By Del Bono, Emilia; Rabe, Birgitta
  3. 12-05 "Are Women Really More Risk-Averse than Men?" By Julie A. Nelson
  4. Heartbeat and Economic Decisions: Observing Mental Stress among Proposers and Responders in the Ultimatum Bargaining Game By Uwe Dulleck; Markus Schaffner; Benno Torgler
  5. Recent Developments in the Economics of Happiness: A Selective Overview By Stutzer, Alois; Frey, Bruno S.

  1. By: Kirk B. Doran (Department of Economics, University of Notre Dame); George J. Borjas (Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard University)
    Abstract: Knowledge producers who are conducting research on a particular set of questions may respond to supply and demand shocks by shifting their resources to a different set of questions. Cognitive mobility measures the transition from one locations in an idea space to another location in that space. This paper examines the cognitive mobility flows unleashed by the influx of a large number of Soviet mathematicians into the United States after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Our analysis exploits the fact that the influx of Soviet mathematicians into the American mathematics community was larger in some fields than in others. The data reveal substantial cognitive mobility in response to the influx, with American mathematicians moving away from, rather than moving to, fields that likely received large numbers of Soviet emigres. It appears that diminishing returns in specific research areas, rather than beneficial human capital spillovers, dominated the cognitive mobility decisions of pre-existing knowledge producers.
    Keywords: Cognitive mobility, labor mobility
    Date: 2012–11
  2. By: Del Bono, Emilia; Rabe, Birgitta
    Abstract: This paper estimates the causal effects of breastfeeding on early child development using exogenous variation in breastfeeding support policies across UK maternity hospitals. Based on data from the Millennium Cohort Study, we find that mothers giving birth in hospitals where such policies are implemented are between 8 and 9 percentage points more likely to breastfeed exclusively at 4 and 8 weeks than mothers who give birth in other hospitals. The effect of breastfeeding are found to be large and positive on many different measures of child cognitive development throughout early childhood. In contrast to the previous literature, we find no statistically significant impact of breastfeeding on a number of health outcomes, but we see an improvement in child emotional development and maternal mental health.
    Date: 2012–12–14
  3. By: Julie A. Nelson
    Abstract: While a substantial literature in economics and finance has concluded that women are more risk averse than men, this conclusion merits reconsideration. Drawing on literatures in statistics and cognitive science, this essay discusses the important difference between drawing conclusions based on statistical inference, which concerns aggregates such as mean scores, and generalization, which posits characteristics of individuals classified into kinds. To supplement findings of statistical significance, quantitative measures of substantive difference (Cohen's d) and overlap (the Index of Similarity) are computed from the data on men, women, and risk used in 28 published articles. The results are considerably more mixed and overlapping than might be expected. Paying attention to empirical evidence that challenges subjective cultural beliefs about sex and risk has implications for labor economics, finance, and the economics of climate change.
    Date: 2012–09
  4. By: Uwe Dulleck; Markus Schaffner; Benno Torgler
    Abstract: In line with experimental economics' goal of better understanding human economic decision making, early research on the ultimatum bargaining game (see Güth Schmittberger, and Schwarze 1982) demonstrated that motives other than pure monetary reward play a role. More recently, the development of of neuroeconomic research techniques has allowed physiological reactions to be recorded as signals of emotional response. In this study, we apply heart rate variability (HRV) to explore the behaviour and physiological reactions during the ultimatum bargaining game of not only responders but also proposers. Because this technology is small and non-intrusive, we are able to run our experiment using a standard experimental economic setup. We find that low offers by a proposer cause signs of mental stress in both the proposer and the responder; that is, both exhibit high ratios of low to high frequency activity in the HRV spectrum.
    Date: 2012–12
  5. By: Stutzer, Alois (University of Basel); Frey, Bruno S. (University of Zurich)
    Abstract: What makes people happy in life? This is a crucial question that has the potential to shake up economics. In recent years, the dissatisfaction with the understanding of welfare in economics together with the new opportunities to empirically study people's subjective wellbeing have spurred impressive and stimulating new research in the often called dismal science. The economics of happiness has emerged as one of the most thriving areas in current economic research. This introductory chapter refers to important contributions to the economics of happiness that characterize the recent developments in the area. First, we refer to reviews of the literature, the measurement and the relationship of happiness research to welfare economics. Second, we emphasize four factors from the large literature on the determinants of happiness in economics, i.e. income, employment, social capital and health. In fact, the main body of research in this new area is on the preconditions or covariates of high individual well-being. Third, important studies applying the so-called Life Satisfaction Approach as an alternative valuation approach are discussed. Fourth, we point to contributions that elaborate on the understanding of utility in terms of people's adaptation to circumstances and their difficulties in predicting future utility. Fifth, we provide references to the controversial question regarding the policy consequences of this new development.
    Keywords: happiness, individual welfare, Life Satisfaction Approach, subjective well-being
    JEL: I31
    Date: 2012–12

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