Christopher Cotton, Brent R Hickman, John A List, Joseph Price, Sutanuka Roy
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We leverage a field experiment across three distinct school districts to identify key pieces of a structural model of adolescent human capital production. Out focus is inspired by the contemporary psychology of education literature, which expresses learning as a function of the ratio of the time spent on learning to the time needed to learn. By capturing two crucial student-level unobservables- which we denote as academic efficiency (turning inputs into outputs) and time preference (motivation)- our field experiment lends insights into the underpinnings of adolescent skill formation and provides a novel view of how to lessen racial and gender achievement gaps. One general insight is that students who are falling behind their peers, whether correlated to race, gender, or school district, are doing so because of academic efficiency rather than time preference. We view this result, and others found in our data, as fundamental to practitioners, academics, and policymakers interested in designing strategies to provide equal opportunities to students.
Roland Fryer , Steven D Levitt, John A List, Anya Samek
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We present the results of a novel early childhood intervention in which disadvantaged 3-4-year-old children were randomized to receive a new preschool and parents education program focused on cognitive and non-cognitive skills (CogX) or to a control group that did not receive preschool education. In addition to a typical academic year (9 month) program, we also evaluated a shortened summer version of the program (2 months) in which children were treated immediately prior to the start of Kindergarten. Both programs, including the shortened version, significantly improved cognitive test scores by about one quarter of a standard deviation relative to the control group at the end of the year. The shortened version of the program was equally as effective as the academic-year program because most of the gains in the academic-year program occurred within the first few months.
Kentaro Asai, Seda Ertac, Ali Hortacsu, John A List, Howard Nusbaum, Lester Tong, Karen Ye
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People often demand a greater price when selling goods that they own than they would pay to purchase the same goods- a well-known economic bias called the endowment effect. The endowment effect has been found to be muted among experienced traders, but little is known about how trading experience reduces the endowment effect. We show that when selling, experienced traders exhibit lower right anterior insula activity, but no differences in nucleus accumbens or orbitofrontal activation, compared with inexperienced traders. Furthermore, insula activation mediates the effect of experience on the endowment effect. Similar results are obtained for inexperienced traders who are incentivized to gain trading experience. This finding indicates that frequent trading likely mitigates the endowment effect indirectly by modifying negative affective responses in the context of selling.
John A List
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Last year I put together a summary of data from my field experiments website that pertained to framed field experiments. Several people have asked if I have an update. In this document I update all figures and numbers to show the details for 2020. I also include the description from the 2019 paper below.
Kuan-Ming Chen, Min Ding, John A List, Magne Mogstad
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Recent changes in labor arrangements have increased interest in estimating and understanding the value of job flexibility. We leverage a large natural field experiment at Uber to create exogenous variation in expected market wages across individuals and over time. Combining this experiment with high frequency panel data on wages and individual work decisions, we document how labor supply responds to exogenous changes in expected market wages in a setting with virtually no restrictions on drive labor allocation. We find that there is i) systematic heterogeneity in labor supply responses both across drivers and within a driver over time, ii) significant fixed costs of beginning a shift, and iii) high rider demand when it is costly for drivers to work. These three findings motivate a model of labor supply with heterogeneous preferences over work schedules, adjustment costs, and statistical dependence between market wages and the costs of driving. We recover the labor supply elasticities and reservation wages of this dynamic labor supply model via a combination of experimental estimates and other data moments. We then perform counterfactual analyses that allow us to examine how preference heterogeneity and adjustment costs influence the responses of workers' to wage incentives as well as infer drivers' willingness to pay for the ability to customize and adjust their work schedule. We also show that a static approach to the driver's dynamic problem delivers materially different estimates of workers' labor supply elasticities and their value of job flexibility.
John A List
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Last year I put together a summary of data from my field experiments website that pertained to natural field experiments. Several people have asked me if I have an update. In this document I update all figures and numbers to show the details for 2020. I also include the description from the 2019 paper below.
Matilde Giaccherini, David H Herberich, David Jimenez-Gomez, John A List, Giovanni Ponti, Michael K Price
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This paper uses a field experiment to estimate the effects of prices and social norms on the decision to adopt and efficient technology. We find that prices and social norms influence the adoption and decision along different margins: while prices operate on both the extensive and intensive margins, social norms operate mostly through the extensive margin. This has both positive and normative implications, and suggests that economics and psychology may be strong complements in the diffusion process. To complement the reduced form results, we estimate a structural model that points to important household heterogeneity: whereas some consumers welcome the opportunity to purchase and learn about the new technology, for others the inconvenience and social pressure of the ask results in negative welfare. As a whole, our findings highlight that the design of optimal technological diffusion policies will require multiple instruments and a recognition of household heterogeneity.
Marvin Cardoza, Justin Holz, John A List, Joaquin Zentner, Alejandro Zentner
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This paper uses a natural field experiment to examine the effectiveness of specific nudges on tax compliance amongst firms and the self-employed in the Dominican Republic. In collaboration with the Dominican Republic's tax authority, we designed messages for more than 28,000 self-employed workers and over 56,000 firms. Leveraging administrative tax data, we find evidence that our nudges (increasing the salience of prison sentences or public disclosure of tax evaders) have large effects on increasing tax compliance, primarily working through the channel of decreasing claimed tax exemptions. Interestingly, we find that firms are more impacted than the self-employed, and that firm size is critically linked to nudge effectiveness: larger firms are considerably more influenced by nudges than smaller firms. We find this latter result noteworthy given the paucity of evidence showing significant behavioral impacts of nudges amongst the largest players in a market. Overall, our messages increased tax revenue by $193 million (roughly 0.23% of the Dominican Republic's GDP in 2018), with over $100 million constituting income that the government would not have received without our field experimental nudges.
John A List
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While empirical economics has made important strides over the past half century, there is a recent attack that threatens the foundations of the empirical approach in economics: external validity. Certain dogmatic arguments are not new, yet in some circles the generalizability question is beyond dispute, rendering empirical work as a passive enterprise based on frivolity. Such arguments serve to caution even the staunchest empirical advocates from even starting an empirical inquiry in a novel setting. In its simplest form, questions of external validity revolve around whether the results of the received study can be generalized to different people, situations, stimuli, and time periods. This study clarifies and places the external validity crisis into perspective by taking a unique glimpse into the grandest of trials: The External Validity Trial. A key outcome of the proceedings is an Author Onus Probandi, which outlines four key areas that every study should report to address external validity. Such an evaluative approach properly rewards empirical advances and justly recognizes inherent empirical limitations.
Andreas Loschel, Michael K Price, Laura Razzolini, Madeline Werthschulte
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This study explores whether negative income shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic affect the demand for environmental policy. By running a survey in Germany in May 2020, we show that there is a large and negative correlation between the COVID-19 income shocks and the willingness to support green policies. Importantly, this relation is separate from the effect of long-run income. Building on the first evidence, our study provides directions for future valuation studies. Specifically, our results provide a proof of concept that welfare analyses based on willingness-to-pay estimates to assess the benefits of an environmental good or the cost of an environmental damage may be downward biased if temporary changes in income are not considered.
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