nep-neu New Economics Papers
on Neuroeconomics
Issue of 2022‒02‒14
seven papers chosen by

  1. Political ideology predicts mood and emotion regulation. Examining potential pathways to key life outcomes. By David L. Dickinson
  2. The Impact Evaluation of Vietnam’s Escuela Nueva (New School) Program on Students’ Cognitive and Non-cognitive Skills By Dang, Hai-Anh H.; Glewwe, Paul; Lee, Jongwook; Vu, Khoa
  3. Breastfeeding and child development By Emla Fitzsimons; Marcos Vera-Hernandez
  4. The impact of child work on cognitive development: results from four low to middle income countries By Michael P Keane; Sonya Krutikova; Timothy Neal
  5. The impact of working conditions on mental health: novel evidence from the UK By Michele Belloni; Ludovico Carrino; Elena Meschi
  6. Fear and Economic Behavior By Andersson, Lina
  7. School selectivity, peers, and mental health By Aline Bütikofer; Rita Ginja; Fanny Landaud; Katrine Loken

  1. By: David L. Dickinson
    Abstract: Previous research has identified importance differences in key life outcomes between political conservatives and liberals (e.g., happiness, academic success, involvement in crime). Potential mechanisms suggested in the literature have included self-control or personality traits that may systematically differ by political ideology. We preregistered plans to test for “dark” personality trait and self-control differences in political conservatives and liberals, with aims to replicate previously reported findings. We also examined differences in cognitive reflection style and emotion regulation. Three survey waves were obtained from an initial pool of U.S. participants (n=650 initial respondents, n=498 in Wave 2, n=402 in Wave 3) split roughly equally across political conservatives and liberals. We report a consistent null effect of political ideology on selfcontrol, and dark personality traits, in contrast to previous studies. Our data show higher cognitive reflection tendencies among those who are more politically liberal, consistent with past research. However, we report a previously unidentified difference emotional regulation styles, with conservatives reporting a healthier approach to emotion regulation via cognitive reappraisal strategies. Finally, a common mood elicitation in each of the three studies consistently reveals significantly more negative mood states among political liberals. Together, these findings suggest that mood and mood regulation may be a more important mechanism towards understanding preferred outcome differences in conservatives compared to liberals. Key Words: self-control, political ideology, individual differences, mood regulation, dark personality
    Date: 2022
  2. By: Dang, Hai-Anh H.; Glewwe, Paul; Lee, Jongwook; Vu, Khoa
    Abstract: This paper evaluates how Vietnam's Escuela Nueva (VNEN) program, an educational reform for primary schools supported by the World Bank, affected the cognitive (mathematics and Vietnamese) and non-cognitive (socioemotional) skills of students in that country. We use propensity score matching to estimate both short-term (1-3 years) and long-term (5-7 years) average treatment effects on the treated (ATT). We find that the impacts of VNEN on students' cognitive skills are relatively small in the short-term, and that they are larger for boys, ethnic minorities, and students in Northern Vietnam. The VNEN program modestly increased primary school students' non-cognitive skills in the short-term; these impacts on non-cognitive skills are sizable and significant for ethnic minority students, although there seems to be little gender difference. The long-term impacts are less precisely estimated, but they appear to fade away, showing little or no impact of the VNEN program on cognitive skills. There is little variation of long-term impacts by gender or geographical region, although the imprecision of the estimates for ethnic minority students does not allow us to rule out large long-term impacts on cognitive skills for those students. The program's impacts on non-cognitive skills also seem to have dissipated in the long-term.
    Date: 2022
  3. By: Emla Fitzsimons (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London); Marcos Vera-Hernandez (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University College London)
    Abstract: We show that children who are born at or just before the weekend are less likely to be breastfed, owing to poorer breastfeeding support services in hospitals at weekends. We use this variation to estimate the effect of breastfeeding on children’s development in the first five years of life, for a sample of births of low educated mothers. We find large effects of breastfeeding on children’s cognitive development but no effects on health or non-cognitive development during the period of childhood we consider. Regarding mechanisms, we study how breastfeeding affects parental investments and the quality of the mother-child relationship.
    Date: 2021–10–25
  4. By: Michael P Keane (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of New South Wales (UNSW)); Sonya Krutikova (Institute for Fiscal Studies and Institute for Fiscal Studies); Timothy Neal (Institute for Fiscal Studies)
    Abstract: We study the impact of child work on cognitive development in four Low- and Middle-Income Countries. We advance the literature by using cognitive test scores collected regardless of school attendance. We also address a key gap in the literature by controlling for children’s complete time allocation budget. This allows us to estimate effects of different types of work, like chores and market/farm work, relative to specific alternative time-uses, like school or study or play/leisure. Our results show child work is more detrimental to child development to the extent that it crowds out school/study time rather than leisure. We also show the adverse effect of time spent on domestic chores is similar to time spent on market and farm work, provided they both crowd out school/study time. Thus, policies to enhance child development should target a shift from all forms of work toward educational activities.
    Date: 2020–10–20
  5. By: Michele Belloni; Ludovico Carrino; Elena Meschi
    Abstract: This paper investigates the causal impact of working conditions on mental health in the UK, combining new comprehensive longitudinal data on working conditions from the European Working Condition Survey with microdata from the UK Household Longitudinal Survey (Understanding Society). Our empirical strategy accounts for the endogenous sorting of individuals into occupations by including individual fixed effects. It addresses the potential endogeneity of occupational change over time by focusing only on individuals who remain in the same occupation (same ISCO), exploiting the variation in working conditions within each occupation over time. This variation, determined primarily by general macroeconomic conditions, is likely to be exogenous from the individual point of view. Our results indicate that improvements in working conditions have a beneficial, statistically significant, and clinically meaningful impact on depressive symptoms for women. A one standard deviation increase in the skills and discretion index reduces depression score by 2.84 points, which corresponds to approximately 20% of the GHQ score standard deviation, while a one standard deviation increase in working time quality reduces depression score by 0.97 points. The results differ by age: improvements in skills and discretion benefit younger workers (through increases in decision latitude and training) and older workers (through higher cognitive roles), as do improvements in working time quality; changes in work intensity and physical environment affect only younger and older workers, respectively. Each aspect of job quality impacts different dimensions of mental health. Specifically, skills and discretion primarily affect the loss of confidence and anxiety; working time quality impacts anxiety and social dysfunction; work intensity affects the feeling of social dysfunction among young female workers. Finally, we show that improvements in levels of job control (higher skills and discretion) and job demand (lower intensity) lead to greater health benefits, especially for occupations that are inherently characterised by higher job strain.
    Keywords: mental health, working conditions, job demand, job control.
    JEL: I1 J24 J28 J81
    Date: 2022–01
  6. By: Andersson, Lina (Department of Economics, School of Business, Economics and Law, Göteborg University)
    Abstract: Fear is an important factor in decision-making under risk and uncertainty. Psychology research suggests that fear influences one’s risk attitude and fear may have important consequences for decisions concerning for example investments, crime, conflicts, and politics. I model strategic interactions between players who can be in either a neutral or a fearful state of mind. A player’s state of mind determines his or her utility function. The two main assumptions are that (i) fear is triggered by an increase in the probability or cost of negative outcomes and (ii) a player in the fearful state is more risk averse. A player’s beliefs over the probability and cost of negative outcomes determine how the player transitions between the states of mind. I use psychological game theory to analyze the role of fear in three applications, a robbery game, a bank run game, and a public health intervention.
    Keywords: emotions; fear; risk aversion; psychological game theory
    JEL: C72 D01 D91
    Date: 2022–02
  7. By: Aline Bütikofer (Institute for Fiscal Studies); Rita Ginja (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Bergen); Fanny Landaud (Institute for Fiscal Studies); Katrine Loken (Institute for Fiscal Studies and University of Bergen)
    Abstract: Although many students suffer from anxiety and depression, and often identify school pressure and concerns about their futures as the main reasons for their worries, little is known about the consequences of a selective school environment on students’ mental health. Using a regression discontinuity analysis in the largest Norwegian cities, we show that eligibility to enroll in a more selective high school increases the probability of enrollment in higher education and decreases the probability of diagnosis or treatment of psychological problems. We provide suggestive evidence that changes in both teacher and peers’ characteristics are likely drivers of these effects.
    Date: 2021–10–08

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.