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The Latest NBER Working Papers
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26 сентября, 18:38

Are Two Bads Better Than One? A Model of Sensory Limitations -- by Lars J. Lefgren, Olga B. Stoddard, John E. Stovall

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We present a theoretical framework which explains the optimizing behavior of individuals who are exposed to many latent stimuli but prone to experience only the most salient one. We show that individuals with such preferences may find it optimal to engage in seemingly dysfunctional behavior such as self-harm. Our model also explains the behavior of individuals experiencing depression or trapped by multiple competing problems. We present experimental evidence suggesting such preferences explain the behavior of more than two thirds of subjects exposed to single and multiple painful stimuli.

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26 сентября, 18:38

Who Feels the Nudge? Knowledge, Self-Awareness and Retirement Savings Decisions -- by Anders Anderson, David T. Robinson

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Using a financial literacy survey of Swedish pension investors matched to actual retirement savings decisions, we argue that respondents can be broken into three groups: those who are financially literate, those who mistakenly believe they are financially literate, and those who know that they are not. We examine how these groups respond differently to informational nudges encouraging them to take charge of their own investments. Investors with mistaken beliefs responded to the nudge, and were more likely to work with mass-market advisors who steer them into high-fee funds. They underperform as a result. By comparison, those who either possess financial literacy or else understand that they do not possess financial literacy were less likely to respond to the nudge. They avoided advisors, stayed with the low-cost default fund, and therefore accumulated retirement savings more quickly.

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26 сентября, 18:38

Globalization, Government Popularity, and the Great Skill Divide -- by Cevat G. Aksoy, Sergei Guriev, Daniel S. Treisman

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How does international trade affect the popularity of governments and leaders? We provide the first large-scale, systematic evidence that the divide between skilled and unskilled workers worldwide is producing corresponding differences in the response of political preferences to trade shocks. Using a unique data set including 118 countries and nearly 450,000 individuals, we find that growth in high skill intensive exports (of goods and services) increases approval of the leader and incumbent government among skilled individuals. Growth in high skill intensive imports has the opposite effect. High skill intensive trade has no such effect among the unskilled. To identify exogenous variation in international trade, we exploit the time-varying effects of air and sea distances on bilateral trade flows. Our findings suggest that the political effects of international trade differ with skill intensity and that skilled individuals respond differently from their unskilled counterparts to trade shocks.

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26 сентября, 18:38

Economists (and Economics) in Tech Companies -- by Susan Athey, Michael Luca

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As technology platforms have created new markets and new ways of acquiring information, economists have come to play an increasingly central role in tech companies - tackling problems such as platform design, strategy, pricing, and policy. Over the past five years, hundreds of PhD economists have accepted positions in the technology sector. In this paper, we explore the skills that PhD economists apply in tech companies, the companies that hire them, the types of problems that economists are currently working on, and the areas of academic research that have emerged in relation to these problems.

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26 сентября, 18:38

STEM Careers and Technological Change -- by David J. Deming, Kadeem L. Noray

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Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) jobs are a key contributor to economic growth and national competitiveness. Yet STEM workers are perceived to be in short supply. This paper shows that the "STEM shortage" phenomenon is explained by technological change, which introduces new job tasks and makes old ones obsolete. We find that the initially high economic return to applied STEM degrees declines by more than 50 percent in the first decade of working life. This coincides with a rapid exit of college graduates from STEM occupations. Using detailed job vacancy data, we show that STEM jobs changed especially quickly over the last decade, leading to flatter age-earnings profiles as the skills of older cohorts became obsolete. Our findings highlight the importance of technology-specific skills in explaining life-cycle returns to education, and show that STEM jobs are the leading edge of technology diffusion in the labor market.

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26 сентября, 18:38

Diverging Trends in National and Local Concentration -- by Esteban Rossi-Hansberg, Pierre-Daniel Sarte, Nicholas Trachter

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The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond or the Federal Reserve System. We thank Eric LaRose and Sara Ho for outstanding research assistance.Using U.S. NETS data, we present evidence that the positive trend observed in national product-market concentration between 1990 and 2014 becomes a negative trend when we focus on measures of local concentration. We document diverging trends for several geographic definitions of local markets. SIC 8 industries with diverging trends are pervasive across sectors. In these industries, top firms have contributed to the amplification of both trends. When a top firm opens a plant, local concentration declines and remains lower for at least 7 years. Our findings, therefore, reconcile the increasing national role of large firms with falling local concentration, and a likely more competitive local environment.

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26 сентября, 18:38

The Pivotal Role of Fairness: Which Consumers Like Annuities? -- by Suzanne B. Shu, Robert Zeithammer, John W. Payne

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Life annuities can be a valuable component of the decumulation stage of wealth during retirement. While economists argue that most retirees should annuitize, actual demand in the marketplace is low. We analyze data from two studies to determine how measurable individual differences among consumers affect their interest in annuities. We find that a relatively high percentage of respondents dislike all annuities. Demographic factors are not predictive of which individuals dislike annuities, and individual factors predicted by economic models to be important (such as beneficiaries) have small or even opposite effects. The strongest individual differences we measured that predicts liking of annuities is the respondent's perception of product fairness. We discuss implications of our findings for financial planners hoping to help their customers with these decumulation challenges.

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26 сентября, 18:38

When does Product Liability Risk Chill Innovation? Evidence from Medical Implants -- by Alberto Galasso, Hong Luo

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Liability laws designed to compensate for harms caused by defective products may also affect innovation. We examine this issue by exploiting a major quasi-exogenous increase in liability risk faced by US suppliers of polymers used to manufacture medical implants. Difference-in-differences analyses show that this surge in suppliers' liability risk had a large and negative impact on downstream innovation in medical implants, but it had no significant effect on upstream polymer patenting. Our findings suggest that liability risk can percolate throughout a vertical chain and may have a significant chilling effect on downstream innovation.

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26 сентября, 18:38

The Consequences of Academic Match between Students and Colleges -- by Eleanor Wiske Dillon, Jeffrey A. Smith

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We consider the effects of student ability, college quality, and the interaction between the two on academic outcomes and earnings using data on two cohorts of college enrollees. Student ability and college quality strongly improve degree completion and earnings for all students. We find evidence of meaningful complementarity between student ability and college quality in degree completion at four years and long-term earnings, but not in degree completion at six years or STEM degree completion. This complementarity implies some tradeoff between equity and efficiency for policies that move lower ability students to higher quality colleges.

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26 сентября, 18:38

Fiscal and Education Spillovers from Charter School Expansion -- by Matthew Ridley, Camille Terrier

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The fiscal and educational consequences of charter expansion for non-charter students are central issues in the debate over charter schools. Do charter schools drain resources and high-achieving peers from non-charter schools? This paper answers these questions using an empirical strategy that exploits a 2011 reform that lifted caps on charter schools for underperforming districts in Massachusetts. We use complementary synthetic control instrumental variables (IV-SC) and differences-in-differences instrumental variables (IV-DiD) estimators. The results suggest greater charter attendance increases per-pupil expenditures in traditional public schools and induces them to shift expenditure from support services to instruction and salaries. At the same time, charter expansion has a small positive effect on non-charter students' achievement.

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26 сентября, 18:38

Innovation, Knowledge Diffusion, and Globalization -- by Nelson Lind, Natalia Ramondo

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We review a recent body of theoretical literature that links the creation and diffusion of knowledge and technology to openness. We analyze two channels through which the spread of new ideas occurs: international trade and the activity of multinational firms (multinational production). The unifying theme of our survey is methodological. We focus on quantitative general equilibrium models that treat productivities as Frechet random variables--as in the model of trade in Eaton and Kortum (2002) (EK). We present models in the literature that extend the EK model of trade to innovation, diffusion, and multinational firms, and examine the implications for counterfactuals related to the gains from trade. We finalize with new directions for research.

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26 сентября, 18:38

Loss Attitudes in the U.S. Population: Evidence from Dynamically Optimized Sequential Experimentation (DOSE) -- by Jonathan Chapman, Erik Snowberg, Stephanie Wang, Colin Camerer

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We introduce DOSE - Dynamically Optimized Sequential Experimentation - and use it to estimate individual-level loss aversion in a representative sample of the U.S. population (N=2,000). DOSE elicitations are more accurate, more stable across time, and faster to administer than standard methods. We find that around 50% of the U.S. population is loss tolerant. This is counter to earlier findings, which mostly come from lab/student samples, that a strong majority of participants are loss averse. Loss attitudes are correlated with cognitive ability: loss aversion is more prevalent in people with high cognitive ability, and loss tolerance is more common in those with low cognitive ability. We also use DOSE to document facts about risk and time preferences, indicating a high potential for DOSE in future research.