Publication "Stability of experimental and survey measures of risk, time, and social preferences: A review and some new results" with Laura Schechter, 2015. Journal of Development Economics, 117: 151-170 [Older version here] Abstract: Underlying preferences are often considered to be persistent, and are important inputs into economic models. We first conduct an extensive review of the disparate literature studying the stability of preferences measured in experiments. Then, we test the stability of individuals' choices in panel data from rural Paraguay over almost a decade. Answers to social preference survey questions are quite stable. Experimental measures of risk, time, and social preferences do not exhibit much stability. Correlations between experimental measures of risk aversion are a more precisely estimated zero, whereas correlations for time and social preferences are larger and noisier. We also find no systematic evidence that real world shocks influence play in games. We suggest that in a developing country context researchers should explore designing simpler experiments and including survey questions in addition to experiments to measure preferences.
"Social Networks in Developing Countries" with Laura Schechter, 2015. Annual Review of Resource Economics, 7: 451-472[Older version here] Abstract: Social networks function as an important safety net in developing countries which often lack formal financial instruments. They are also an important source of information in developing countries with relatively low access to the internet and literacy rates. We review the empirical literature in developing countries using explicit social network data. We focus on social networks as conduits for both monetary transfers and information. We also briefly discuss the network formation literature and comment on data collection strategies, along the way mentioning some areas we believe to be especially ripe for future study.
Working Papers "Are Residential Energy Efficiency Programs Effective? An Empirical Analysis in Southern California" (with Magali Delmas and Stephanie Pincetl) draft available upon request
"Self Control or Social Control? Peer Effects on Temptation Consumption" Abstract: This paper examines the effect of peer networks on self-control problems. I construct a theoretical model to describe the way in which peer networks influence consumption behaviors through social norms, which guide people to conform to their friends' behavior. Using comprehensive data from a monthly survey conducted in 16 villages in Thailand from 1999 through 2004, I empirically examine peer effects on temptation consumption patterns, and test the mechanism underlying this relationship. Detailed social network information in the dataset allows the identification of impacts using a friend of a friend (excluded network) as the instrument. The empirical results provide evidence that peer decisions significantly impact individuals' temptation consumption such as alcohol and gambling, as well as savings. These peer effects are driven primarily by social norms, rather than risk sharing.
"Climate Change and Farmers' Adaptation Strategies in India" Abstract This paper explores the impact of weather shocks on farmers' income diversification strategies. I combine historical weather data with household data in India to explore whether farmers employ different responses toward weather shocks in regions with different levels of historical variation. I find that weather shocks can negatively affect agricultural income, but this effect decreases in a riskier place where people have, over time, diversified their income into off-farm employment. I also find evidence that caste-networks can potentially determine people's income diversification strategies. Households who are within a different caste from the majority of their village peers will be more likely to seek for off-farm jobs, while households who are in a similar caste to the majority of the people within the village will seek agricultural wage jobs from others in the village.
"Climate Change and Economics 101: Teaching the Greatest Market Failure'' with John Chung-En Liu and YoramBauman Abstract In this article, we ask the question: how do undergraduate principles of economics courses prepare the coming generations to think about climate change? As these courses are highly standardized and rely heavily on textbooks, we answer this question by surveying the contents of climate change in the textbooks. Our finding shows that not all texts touch upon climate science, and a small subset exhibits significantly less confidence on the human causes of climate change than the scientific consensus. Regarding the treatment of climate change economics, the texts adopt the “externality framework” to conceptualize climate change as a problem of carbon emission’s negative externalities. The preferred solutions are market-based policies—such as cap-and-trade or carbon taxes—to internalize the external costs. Overall, we may have seen a gradual improvement over time, both qualitatively and quantitatively, in the coverage of climate change. Yet many texts remain unsatisfactory: the second-biggest seller in the United States, the book by McConnell, Brue & Flynn, is a notable example that contains mistakes and outdated information.
Work in Progress "Distributional Effects of Energy Efficiency: Energy Efficiency Programs and Disadvantaged Communities" "Gender and Public Expenditure: A Regression Discontinuity Analysis of Township Mayors in Taiwan" (with Yu-Hsuan Su and John Chung-En Liu)
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