The Heterogeneous Effect of Affirmative Action on Performance -- by Anat Bracha, Alma Cohen, Lynn Conell-Price
This paper experimentally investigates the effect of gender-based affirmative action (AA) on performance in the lab, focusing on a tournament environment. The tournament is based on GRE math questions commonly used in graduate school admission, and at which women are known to perform worse on average than men. We find heterogeneous effect of AA on female participants: AA lowers the performance of high-ability women and increases the performance of low-ability women. Our results are consistent with two possible mechanisms--one is that AA changes incentives differentially for low- and high-ability women, and the second is that AA triggers stereotype threat.
Investment Returns and Distribution Policies of Non-Profit Endowment Funds -- by Sandeep Dahiya, David Yermack
We present the first estimates of investment returns and distribution rates for U.S. non-profit endowment funds, based on a comprehensive sample of more than 28,000 organizations drawn from Internal Revenue Service filings for 2009-2016. Endowments badly underperform market benchmarks, with mean annual returns 3.86 percentage points below a 60-40 mix of U.S. equity and Treasury bond indexes, and statistically significant alphas of -1.01% per year. Smaller endowments perform better than larger ones, but all size classes significantly underperform. Higher education endowments, the majority of the $0.7 trillion asset class, do significantly worse than funds in other sectors. Distribution ratios are conservative, well below the funds' long-run returns. Donors increase contributions when endowment returns are strong, with an elasticity of about 0.13 between net-of-market investment returns and new donations.
This paper shows that buildups in firm leverage predict subsequent declines in aggregate regional employment. Using confidential establishment-level data from the U.S. Census Bureau, we exploit regional heterogeneity in leverage buildups by large U.S. publicly listed firms, which are widely spread across U.S. regions. For a given region, our results show that increases in firms' borrowing are associated with "boom-bust" cycles: employment grows in the short run but declines in the medium run. Across regions, our results imply that regions with larger buildups in firm leverage exhibit stronger short-run growth, but also stronger medium-run declines, in aggregate regional employment. We obtain similar results if we condition on national recessions-regions with larger buildups in firm leverage prior to a recession experience larger employment losses during the recession. When comparing regional firm and household leverage growth, we find qualitatively similar patterns for both. Finally, we find that regions whose firm leverage growth comoves more strongly also exhibit stronger comovement in their regional business cycles.
We show that individuals narrowly bracket their equity concerns. Across four experiments including 1,600 subjects, individuals equalize components of payoffs rather than overall payoffs. When earnings are comprised of "small tokens" worth 1 cent and "large tokens" worth 2 cents, subjects frequently equalize the distribution of small (or large) tokens rather than equalizing total earnings. When payoffs are comprised of time and money, subjects similarly equalize the distribution of time (or money) rather than total payoffs. In addition, subjects are more likely to equalize time than money. These findings can help explain a variety of behavioral phenomena including the structure of social insurance programs, patterns of public good provision, and why transactions that turn money into time are often deemed repugnant.
The Effects of Medicare Advantage on Opioid Use -- by Laurence C. Baker, Kate Bundorf, Daniel Kessler
Despite a vast literature on the determinants of prescription opioid use, the role of health insurance plans has received little attention. We study how the form of Medicare beneficiaries' drug coverage affects the volume of opioids they consume. We find that enrollment in Medicare Advantage, which integrates drug coverage with other medical benefits, significantly reduces beneficiaries' likelihood of filling an opioid prescription, as compared to enrollment in a stand-alone drug plan. Approximately half of this effect was due to fewer fills from prescribers who write a very large number of opioid prescriptions.
The Long-run Impact of New Medical Ideas on Cancer Survival and Mortality -- by Frank R. Lichtenberg
I investigate whether the types of cancer (breast, colon, lung, etc.) subject to greater penetration of new ideas had larger subsequent survival gains and mortality reductions, controlling for changing incidence. I use the MEDLINE/PubMED database, which contains more than 23 million references to journal articles published in 5400 leading biomedical journals, to construct longitudinal measures of the penetration of new medical ideas. The 5-year survival rate is strongly positively related to the novelty of ideas in articles published 12-24 years earlier. This finding is consistent with evidence from case studies that it takes a long time for research evidence to reach clinical practice. The estimates suggest that about 70% of the 1994-2008 increase in the 5-year observed survival rate for all cancer sites combined may have been due to the increase in the novelty of medical ideas 12-24 years earlier. The number of years of potential life lost from cancer before ages 80 and 70 are inversely related to the novelty of ideas in articles published 12-24 years earlier, conditional on incidence. The increase in medical idea novelty was estimated to have caused a 38% decline in the premature (before age 80) cancer mortality rate 12-24 years later.
Hall of Mirrors: Corporate Philanthropy and Strategic Advocacy -- by Marianne Bertrand, Matilde Bombardini, Raymond Fisman, Bradley Hackinen, Francesco Trebbi
Politicians and regulators rely on feedback from the public when setting policies. For-profit corporations and non-pro t entities are active in this process and are arguably expected to provide independent viewpoints. Policymakers (and the public at large), however, may be unaware of the financial ties between some firms and non-profits - ties that are legal and tax-exempt, but difficult to trace. We identify these ties using IRS forms submitted by the charitable arms of large U.S. corporations, which list all grants awarded to non-pro fits. We document three patterns in a comprehensive sample of public commentary made by firms and non-profits within U.S. federal rulemaking between 2003 and 2015. First, we show that, shortly after a firm donates to a non-profit, the grantee is more likely to comment on rules for which the firm has also provided a comment. Second, when a firm comments on a rule, the comments by non-profits that recently received grants from the firm's foundation are systematically closer in content similarity to the firm's own comments than to those submitted by other non-profits commenting on that rule. This content similarity does not result from similarly-worded comments that express divergent sentiment. Third, when a firm comments on a new rule, the discussion of the final rule is more similar to the firm's comments when the firm's recent grantees also comment on that rule. These patterns, taken together, suggest that corporations strategically deploy charitable grants to induce non-pro fit grantees to make comments that favor their benefactors, and that this translates into regulatory discussion that is closer to the firm's own comments.
Two Hundred Years of Health and Medical Care: The Importance of Medical Care for Life Expectancy Gains -- by Maryaline Catillon, David Cutler, Thomas Getzen
Using two hundred years of national and Massachusetts data on medical care and health, we examine how central medical care is to life expectancy gains. While common theories about medical care cost growth stress growing demand, our analysis highlights the importance of supply side factors, including the major public investments in research, workforce training and hospital construction that fueled a surge in spending over the 1955-1975 span. There is a stronger case that personal medicine affected health in the second half of the twentieth century than in the preceding 150 years. Finally, we consider whether medical care productivity decreases over time, and find that spending increased faster than life expectancy, although the ratio stabilized in the past two decades.
Reshaping Adolescents' Gender Attitudes: Evidence from a School-Based Experiment in India -- by Diva Dhar, Tarun Jain, Seema Jayachandran
Societal norms about gender roles contribute to the economic disadvantages facing women in many developing countries. This paper evaluates an intervention aimed at eroding support for restrictive gender norms, specifically a multi-year school-based intervention in Haryana, India, that engaged adolescents in classroom discussions about gender equality. Using a randomized controlled trial, we find that the intervention increased adolescents' support for gender equality by 0.25 standard deviations, a sizable effect compared to other correlates of their gender attitudes such as their parents' views. Program participants also report more gender-equitable behavior; for example, boys report helping out more with household chores.
Does Remedial Education at Late Childhood Pays Off After All? Long-Run Consequences for University Schooling, Labor Market Outcomes and Inter-Generational Mobility -- by Victor Lavy, Assaf Kott, Genia Rachkovski
We analyze in this paper the long term effect of a high school remedial education program, almost two decades after its implementation. We combine high school records with National Social Security administrative data to examine longer-term outcomes when students were in their early 30s. Our evidence suggest that treated students experienced a 10 percentage points increase in completed years of college schooling, an increase in annual earnings of 4 percentage points, an increase of 1.5 percentage points in months employed, and a significant increase in intergenerational income mobility. These gains are reflecting mainly improvement in outcomes of students from below median income families. Therefore, we conclude that remedial education program that targeted underachieving students in their last year of high school had gains that went much beyond the short term significant improvements in high school matriculation exams. A cost benefit analysis of the program suggests that the government will recover its cost within 7-8 years, implying a very high rate of return to this remedial education program.
Revealing Stereotypes: Evidence from Immigrants in Schools -- by Alberto Alesina, Michela Carlana, Eliana La Ferrara, Paolo Pinotti
If individuals become aware of their stereotypes, do they change their behavior? We study this question in the context of teachers' bias in grading immigrants and native children in middle schools. Teachers give lower grades to immigrant students compared to natives who have the same performance on standardized, blindly-graded tests. We then relate differences in grading to teachers' stereotypes, elicited through an Implicit Association Test (IAT). We find that math teachers with stronger stereotypes give lower grades to immigrants compared to natives with the same performance. Literature teachers do not differentially grade immigrants based on their own stereotypes. Finally, we share teachers' own IAT score with them, randomizing the timing of disclosure around the date on which they assign term grades. All teachers informed of their stereotypes before term grading increase grades assigned to immigrants. Revealing stereotypes may be a powerful intervention to decrease discrimination, but it may also induce a reaction from individuals who were not acting in a biased way.
We estimate the uncertainty effects of preferential trade disagreements. Increases in the probability of Britain's exit from the European Union (Brexit) reduce bilateral export values and trade participation. These effects are increasing in trade policy risk across products and asymmetric for UK and EU exporters. We estimate that a persistent doubling of the probability of Brexit at the average disagreement tariff of 4.5% lowers EU-UK bilateral export values by 15 log points on average, and more so for EU than UK exporters. Neither believed a trade war was likely.