nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2019‒05‒06
two papers chosen by
Daniel Houser
George Mason University

  1. Foundations for optimal inattention By Ellis, Andrew
  2. Preventing criminal minds: early education access and adult offending behavior By Zelda Brutti; Daniel Montolio

  1. By: Ellis, Andrew
    Abstract: This paper models an agent who has a limited capacity to pay attention to information and thus conditions her actions on a coarsening of the available information. An optimally inattentive agent chooses both her coarsening and her actions by maximization of an underlying subjective expected utility preference relation, net of a cognitive cost of attention. The main result axiomatically characterizes the conditional choices of actions by an agent that are necessary and sufficient for her behavior to be seen as if it is the result of optimal inattention. Observing these choices permits unique identification of the agent’s utility index, the information to which she pays attention, her attention cost and her prior whenever information is costly.
    Keywords: inattention; optimal inattention; conditional choice
    JEL: J1
    Date: 2017–10–23
  2. By: Zelda Brutti (Universitat de Barcelona & Institut d’Economia de Barcelona (IEB)); Daniel Montolio (Universitat de Barcelona & Institut d’Economia de Barcelona (IEB))
    Abstract: In this paper we estimate the impact of a nationwide public preschool expansion that took place in Spain over the 1990s on criminal behavior later in time. We exploit variation in enrollment rates across Spanish regions and birth-cohorts, and we link education data to a unique administrative crime dataset recording offenses committed in the region of Catalonia over the period 2009-2014. We find that for the average birth cohort, Catalan municipality and year, a 1 percentage point increase in preschool exposure at age 3 yields 1.6% fewer crime actions during youth and young adulthood. We are able to account for region of origin, birth cohort, time and local fixed effects, as well as several region and time-specific controls. Leveraging detailed information on types of crime committed, we propose a categorization of offenses into those likely to have been rationally planned and driven by economic motives, and those in which emotional factors and lack of self-control play a significant role. On average, we find the benefits of preschool to be larger and more robust on crimes belonging to the latter category, suggesting that non-cognitive skills play an important role in explaining the overall effect.
    Keywords: Universal child care, adult crime, education reform
    JEL: I28 K42 J13
    Date: 2019

This nep-neu issue is ©2019 by Daniel Houser. 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.