Votes For Women: An Economic Perspective on Women’s Enfranchisement -- by Carolyn Moehling, Melissa A. Thomasson
The ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment in 1920 officially granted voting rights to women across the United States. However, many states extended full or partial suffrage to women before the federal amendment. In this paper, we discuss the history of women's enfranchisement using an economic lens. We examine the demand-side, discussing the rise of the women's movement and its alliances with other social movements, and describe how suffragists put pressure on legislators. On the supply side, we draw from theoretical models of suffrage extension to explain why men shared the right to vote with women. Finally, we review empirical studies that attempt to distinguish between competing explanations. We find that no single theory can explain women's suffrage in the US, and note that while the Nineteenth Amendment extended the franchise to women, state-level barriers to voting limited the ability of black women to exercise that right until the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
News media operate in two-sided markets, offering bundles of content to readers as well as selling readers' attention to advertisers. Technological innovations in content delivery, such as the advent of broadcast television or of the Internet, affect both sides of the market, threatening the basic economic model of print news operations. We examine how the entry of television affected local newspapers as well as consumer media diets in the United States. We develop a model of print media and show that entry of national television news could adversely affect the provision of local news. We construct a novel dataset of U.S. newspapers' economic performance and content choices from 1944 to 1964. Our empirical strategy exploits quasi-random variation in the timing of the entry of television in different markets. We show that the entry of television was a negative shock for newspapers, particularly evening newspapers, in both the readership and advertising markets. Further, we find a drop in the total quantity of news printed, in particular original reporting, raising concerns about the provision of local news.
Anti-Bullying Laws and Suicidal Behaviors among Teenagers -- by Daniel I. Rees, Joseph J. Sabia, Gokhan Kumpas
The CDC reports that the association between bullying and suicides among teenagers has generated “concern, even panic,” but polices aimed at combatting bullying have received little attention from researchers. Using a difference-in-differences estimation strategy, we find that state-level anti-bullying laws (ABLs) reduce bullying victimization, depression and suicidal ideation, with the largest estimated effects for female teenagers and teenagers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or questioning. In addition, ABLs are associated with a 13-16 percent reduction in the suicide rate of female 14- through 18-year-olds. Event-study analyses and falsification tests provide evidence that these estimates can be interpreted causally.
Forward Guidance and Household Expectations -- by Olivier Coibion, Dimitris Georgarakos, Yuriy Gorodnichenko, Michael Weber
We compare the causal effects of forward guidance communication about future interest rates on households’ expectations of inflation, mortgage rates, and unemployment to the effects of communication about future inflation in a randomized controlled trial using more than 25,000 U.S. individuals in the Nielsen Homescan panel. We elicit individuals’ expectations and then provide 22 different forms of information regarding past, current and/or future inflation and interest rates. Information treatments about current and next year’s interest rates have a strong effect on household expectations but treatments beyond one year do not have any additional impact on forecasts. Exogenous variation in inflation expectations transmits into other expectations. The richness of our survey allows us to better understand how individuals form expectations about macroeconomic variables jointly and the non-response to long-run forward guidance is consistent with models in which agents have constrained capacity to collect and process information.
Driving while intoxicated causes many traffic accidents and deaths. Two decisions are closely related, whether to engage in heavy drinking, and to drive, conditional on heavy drinking. This paper reviews the extensive literature on heavy drinking, addiction, and driving after heavy drinking. Relevant public policies involve a combination of deterrence, incapacitation, and treatment. While there is empirical support for the rational addiction model applied to heavy drinking, some attributes of drinker-drivers differ from others (e.g., impulsivity in domains other than alcohol consumption, hyperbolic discounting). Policies most effective in reducing drinking and driving are alcohol excise taxes, minimum drinking age and zero tolerance laws for underage persons, dram shop and social host liability, and criminal sanctions overall. Empirical studies have not determined which specific criminal sanctions are most effective. A major impediment to criminal sanctions as a deterrent is that the probability of being stopped/arrested when driving while intoxicated is extremely low, < 0.01 to 0.02 at most, further reduced by probability of conviction/sentencing following stop/arrest far below 1. Incarceration lengths tend to be too short to incapacitate people from drinking and driving. Alcohol treatment’s effectiveness is limited by low treatment rates among persons for whom treatment is appropriate.
The spillover effect of cigarette taxes on youth marijuana use has been the subject of intense public debate. Opponents of cigarette taxes warn that tax hikes will cause youths to substitute toward marijuana. On the other hand, public health experts often claim that because tobacco is a “gateway” drug, higher cigarette taxes will deter youth marijuana use. Using data from the National and State Youth Risk Behavior Surveys (YRBS) for the period 1991-2017, we explore the relationship between state excise taxes on cigarettes and teen marijuana use. In general, our results fail to support either of the above hypotheses. Rather, we find little evidence to suggest that teen marijuana use is sensitive to changes in the state cigarette tax. This null result holds for the sample period where cigarette taxes are observed to have the largest effect on teen cigarette use and across a number of demographic groups in the data. Finally, we find preliminary evidence that the recent adoption of state e-cigarette taxes is associated with a reduction in youth marijuana use.
Does Race Matter for Police Use of Force? Evidence from 911 Calls -- by Mark Hoekstra, CarlyWill Sloan
While there is much concern about the role of race in police use of force, identifying causal effects is difficult. This is in part because of selection, and in part because researchers often observe only interactions that end in use of force, necessitating nontrivial benchmarking assumptions. This paper addresses these problems by using data on officers dispatched to over 2 million 911 calls in two cities, neither of which allows for discretion in the dispatch process. Using a location-by-time fixed effects approach that isolates the random variation in officer race, we show white officers use force 60 percent more than black officers, and use gun force twice as often. To examine how civilian race affects use of force, we compare how white officers increase use of force as they are dispatched to more minority neighborhoods, compared to minority officers. Perhaps most strikingly, we show that while white and black officers use gun force at similar rates in white and racially mixed neighborhoods, white officers are five times as likely to use gun force in predominantly black neighborhoods. Similarly, white officers increase use of any force much more than minority officers when dispatched to more minority neighborhoods. Consequently, difference-in-differences estimates from individual officer fixed effect models indicate black (Hispanic) civilians are 30 - 60 (75 - 120) percent more likely to experience any use of force, and five times as likely to experience gun use of force, compared to if white officers scaled up force similarly to minority officers. These findings highlight race as an important determinant of police use of force, including and especially lethal force.
Advance Market Commitments: Insights from Theory and Experience -- by Michael Kremer, Jonathan D. Levin, Christopher M. Snyder
Ten years ago, donors committed $1.5 billion to a pilot Advance Market Commitment (AMC) to help purchase pneumococcal vaccine for low-income countries. The AMC aimed to encourage the development of such vaccines, ensure distribution to children in low-income countries, and pilot the AMC mechanism for possible future use. Three vaccines have been developed and more than 150 million children immunized, saving an estimated 700,000 lives. This paper reviews the economic logic behind AMCs, the experience with the pilot, and key issues for future AMCs.
Digitization and Pre-Purchase Information: The Causal and Welfare Impacts of Reviews and Crowd Ratings -- by Imke C. Reimers, Joel Waldfogel
Digitization has led to product proliferation, straining traditional institutions for product discovery; but digitization has also spawned crowd-based rating systems. We compare the relative impacts of professional critics and crowd-based Amazon star ratings on consumer welfare in book publishing. We assemble data on daily Amazon sales ranks, star ratings, and prices for thousands of books in 2018, along with information on their professional reviews in several major outlets. Using various fixed effects and discontinuity-based empirical strategies, we estimate that a New York Times review raises estimated sales by 78 percent during the first five days following a review; and the elasticity of sales with respect to an Amazon star is about 0.75. We use these causal estimates to calibrate structural models of demand for measuring the welfare impact of pre-purchase information in a way that respects the distinction between ex ante and ex post utility. The aggregate effect of star ratings on consumer surplus is roughly 15 times the effect of traditional review outlets. Crowd-based information now accounts for the vast majority of pre-purchase information, but the absolute effects of professional reviews have not declined over time.
A Method to Construct Geographical Crosswalks with an Application to US Counties since 1790 -- by Fabian Eckert, Andrés Gvirtz, Jack Liang, Michael Peters
Empirical researchers often have to map data provided for a "reporting" spatial unit, say counties in 1900, to a "reference" one, say, counties in 2010. We discuss a general method to create such crosswalks: computing the share of the area of each reporting unit nested in a given reference unit. Using these shares, data can be re-aggregated from the reporting to the reference units. We apply the method to construct a crosswalk for US county-level data since 1790 to present-day counties or commuting zones. We also provide the code to generate other crosswalks given maps of reporting and reference units.
Information Acquisition, Efficiency, and Non-Fundamental Volatility -- by Benjamin M. Hébert, Jennifer La'O
This paper analyzes non-fundamental volatility and efficiency in a class of large games (including e.g. linear-quadratic beauty contests) that feature strategic interaction and endogenous information acquisition. We adopt the rational inattention approach to information acquisition but generalize to a large class of information costs. Agents may learn not only about exogenous states, but also about endogenous outcomes. We study how the properties of the agents’ information cost relate to the properties of equilibria in these games. We provide the necessary and sufficient conditions information costs must satisfy to guarantee zero non-fundamental volatility in equilibrium, and provide another set of necessary and sufficient conditions to guarantee equilibria are efficient. We show in particular that mutual information, the cost function typically used in the rational inattention literature, both precludes non-fundamental volatility and imposes efficiency, whereas the Fisher information cost introduced by Hébert and Woodford  generates both non-fundamental volatility and inefficiency.
Confirmatory Bias in Health Decisions: Evidence from the MMR-Autism Controversy -- by Mengcen Qian, Shin-Yi Chou, Ernest K. Lai
Since Wakefield et al. (1998), the public was exposed to mixed information surrounding the claim that measles-mumps-rubella vaccine causes autism. A persistent trend to delay the vaccination during 1998–2011 in the US was driven by children of college-educated mothers, suggesting that these mothers held biases against the vaccine influenced by the early unfounded claim. Consistent with confirmatory bias, exposures to negative information about the vaccine strengthened their biases more than exposures to positive information attenuated them. Positive online information, however, had strong impacts on vaccination decisions, suggesting that online dissemination of vaccine-safety information may help tackle the sticky misinformation.