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2017 summer term

Jun 23, 2017

Applied Micro Workshop – Gabriella Conti, “Beyond Birthweight: Prenatal Investments and Early Development”

Gabriella Conti: “Beyond Birthweight: Prenatal Investments and Early Development” It is now recognized that prenatal events can have long-term consequences. However, our knowledge of the underlying mechanisms remains scarce. Some of the most widely used measures of early health endowments, such as birth weight, are proxies for a whole range of investments and environments that a developing fetus may have been exposed to. In this project we use unique data with rich measures of fetal and neonatal health to open the black box of prenatal development and show: (a) the relationship between fetal and neonatal health capital; (b) the sensitivity of different measures of fetal and neonatal health capital to prenatal investments and environments; (c) their predictive power for indicators of early child development. We conclude by drawing out implications for the specification of early life production functions and the evaluation of prenatal interventions.

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Jul 06, 2017

Applied Micro Workshop – Benjamin Enke, “Kinship Systems, Cooperation and the Evolution of Culture”

Benjamin Enke: “Kinship Systems, Cooperation and the Evolution of Culture” Cultural psychologists and anthropologists argue that societies have developed heterogeneous systems of social organization to cope with social dilemmas, and that an entire bundle of cultural characteristics has coevolved to enforce cooperation within these different systems. This paper develops a measure of the historical tightness of kinship structures to provide empirical evidence for this large body of theories. In the data, societies with loose ancestral kinship ties cooperate and trust broadly, which is apparently sustained through a belief in moralizing gods, universally applicable moral principles, feelings of guilt, and large-scale institutions. Societies with a historically tightly knit kinship structure, on the other hand, exhibit strong in-group favoritism: they cheat on and are distrusting of out-group members, but readily support in-group members in need. This cooperation scheme is enforced by moral values of in-group loyalty, conformity to tight social norms, emotions of shame, and strong local institutions. These relationships hold across historical ethnicities, contemporary countries, ethnicities within countries, and migrants. The results suggest that religious beliefs, language, emotions, morality, and social norms all coevolved to support specific social cooperation systems.

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Jul 07, 2017

Applied Micro Workshop – Alexandre Mas, “Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements”

Alexandre Mas and Amanda Pallais: “Valuing Alternative Work Arrangements” We employ a discrete choice experiment in the employment process for a national call center to estimate the willingness to pay distribution for alternative work arrangements relative to traditional office positions. Most workers are not willing to pay for scheduling flexibility, though a tail of workers with high valuations allows for sizable compensating differentials. The average worker is willing to give up 20% of wages to avoid a schedule set by an employer on short notice, and 8% for the option to work from home. We also document that many jobseekers are inattentive, and we account for this in estimation.

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Jul 21, 2017

Applied Micro Workshop – Jonathan de Quidt, “Measuring and Bounding Experimenter Demand”

Jonathan de Quidt, Johannes Haushofer, and Christopher Roth: “Measuring and Bounding Experimenter Demand” We propose a technique for assessing robustness of experimental findings to experimenter demand effects. The premise is that by deliberately inducing demand in a structured way we can plausibly bound demand-free behavior. We motivate our approach with a simple model in which experimental participants respond to their beliefs about the experimenter's objectives. Bounds are then obtained by manipulating those beliefs with “demand treatments.” We demonstrate the approach with seven experiments covering eleven canonical laboratory tasks and around 19,000 participants. Finally, we analyze how demand sensitivity varies by participant pool, gender, incentives, and attentiveness, and structurally estimate the model.

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