nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2021‒03‒01
four papers chosen by

  1. Rethinking how risk aversion and impatience are linked with cognitive ability: Experimental findings from agricultural students and farmers By Gruener, Sven
  2. Introducing CogX: A New Preschool Education Program Combining Parent and Child Intervention By Roland Fryer; Steven Levitt; John A. List; Anya Samek
  3. Economics students: self-selected in preferences and indoctrinated in beliefs By Antonio M. Espín; Manuel Correa; Alberto Ruiz-Villaverde
  4. The Social Side of Early Human Capital Formation: Using a Field Experiment to Estimate the Causal Impact of Neighborhoods By John A. List; Fatemeh Momeni; Yves Zenou

  1. By: Gruener, Sven
    Abstract: Dohmen et al. (2010) describe in their paper, which has been published in the American Economic Review, that risk aversion and impatience are negatively related to cognitive ability. This topic is important because controlling for cognitive ability might be necessary if someone is interested in the link of risk preferences or time preferences to real-world outcomes. We re-examine their key results by conducting an experimental study using two subject pools (agricultural students and farmers) and three levels of monetary incentives. Similar to Dohmen et al. (2010), our study finds the above-described negative correlations. However, the strength of the association is smaller and the p-values are quite large.
    Date: 2021–02–26
  2. By: Roland Fryer (Harvard University - Department of Economics; NBER); Steven Levitt (University of Chicago - Department of Economics; NBER); John A. List (University of Chicago - Department of Economics; NBER); Anya Samek (University of California, San Diego - Rady School of Management; NBER)
    Abstract: We present the results of a novel early childhood intervention in which disadvantaged 3-4-year-old children were randomized to receive a new preschool and parent education program focused on cognitive and non-cognitive skills (CogX) or to a control group that did not receive preschool education. In addition to a typical academic year (9 month) program, we also evaluated a shortened summer version of the program (2 months) in which children were treated immediately prior to the start of Kindergarten. Both programs, including the shortened version, significantly improved cognitive test scores by about one quarter of a standard deviation relative to the control group at the end of the year. The shortened version of the program was equally as effective as the academic-year program because most of the gains in the academic-year program occurred within the first few months.
    Keywords: Preschool education, human capital, field experiments
    JEL: J24 C93
    Date: 2020
  3. By: Antonio M. Espín (Department of Social Anthropology, University of Granada); Manuel Correa (Department of Applied Economics, University of Granada); Alberto Ruiz-Villaverde (Department of Applied Economics, University of Granada)
    Abstract: There is much debate as to why economics students display more self-interested behavior than other students: whether homo economicus self-select into economics or students are instead “indoctrinated†by economics learning, and whether these effects impact on preferences or beliefs about others’ behavior. Using a classroom survey (n>500) with novel behavioral questions we show that, compared to students in other majors, econ students report being: (i) more self-interested (in particular, less compassionate or averse to advantageous inequality) already in the first year and the difference remains among more senior students; (ii) more likely to think that people will be unwilling to work if unemployment benefits increase (thus, assuming others are motivated primarily by self-interest), but only among senior students. These results suggest self-selection in preferences and indoctrination in beliefs.
    Keywords: self-selection, indoctrination, self-interest, inequality aversion, beliefs
    JEL: A11 A13 A22 D31 D63 D9 I22
    Date: 2021
  4. By: John A. List (University of Chicago - Department of Economics; NBER); Fatemeh Momeni (University of Chicago - Crime and Education Labs); Yves Zenou (Monash University - Department of Economics)
    Abstract: The behavioral revolution within economics has been largely driven by psychological insights, with the sister sciences playing a lesser role. This study leverages insights from sociology to explore the role of neighborhoods on human capital formation at an early age. We do so by estimating the spillover effects from a large-scale early childhood intervention on the educational attainment of over 2,000 disadvantaged children in the United States. We document large spillover effects on both treatment and control children who live near treated children. Interestingly, the spillover effects are localized, decreasing with the spatial distance to treated neighbors. Perhaps our most novel insight is the underlying mechanisms at work: the spillover effect on non-cognitive scores operate through the child's social network while parental investment is an important channel through which cognitive spillover effects operate. Overall, our results reveal the importance of public programs and neighborhoods on human capital formation at an early age, highlighting that human capital accumulation is fundamentally a social activity.
    JEL: C93 I21 I24 I26 I28 R1
    Date: 2020

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