Visit to Bergen

I was in Bergen in June and presented my work with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen on the effects of family planning on fertility at CMI and my work with Shamma Alam on income shocks and timing of fertility at Norwegian School of Economics. A new version of the family planning paper will be available soon and we should have the first public version of the timing of fertility paper ready soon as well.

Labour/development brown bag

I am presenting at the labour/development brown bag on Thursday 12 May at 12.30. The title of the talk is "Risk Perception, Health Knowledge, and Sexual Behavior." This is not a paper, but a research agenda with Mark Anderson. It follows partly from our recent paper on drop outs and STDs submitted to Demography. A short abstract for the talk is below.

We will discuss a new research agenda relating to adolescent sexual behavior in the US that we are beginning to work on. The talk will focus on the basics of trying to understand the formation of beliefs in the absence of (practical) experience and how expectations and beliefs change over time with experience and additional information.

CSDE seminar presentation on family planning in Ethiopia

I am presenting my paper "Family Planning and Fertility: Estimating Program Effects using Cross-sectional Data" today at the CSDE seminar series. The seminar runs from 12.30 to 1.30 PM and is at Thomson Hall, rm 125. You can find the current version of the paper here. The paper is joint with Kathleen Beegle and Luc Christiaensen. The abstract is:

This paper uses a novel method of identifying the effects of a family planning program when there is endogenous program placement and only cross-sectional data are available, a situation common in many developing countries. Using data from Ethiopia we find that access to family planning substantially reduces the number of children ever born for women without education; the reduction is especially pronounced for women younger than 20 and older than 30. Completed fertility, measured as children ever born for women aged 40 to 45, falls by more than one birth with access to family planning. These effects are statistically significant and substantially larger than previous studies have found. For women who have gone to school there is no evidence of an impact of family planning on fertility. Based on a relative small reduction in child mortality we argue that the effect on fertility is due to family planning access and not the concurrent presence of health facilities. Finally, family planning access reduces unwanted fertility, especially for older women.

Interaction Economics: Instruments that Measure Social-Computational Systems

I gave a presentation in our weekly labour/development brown bag series on a NSF grant that I am co-PI on. This is very different from most of the other things I work on, but I think it has great potential. You can find the presentation here.

This project merges the fields of Economics and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) into a new field of Interaction Economics. This field studies the costs and benefits of computer systems that define how people decide to use them. This project makes three contributions that form the basis of Interaction Economics. First, we will scientifically measure the objective, quantitative amount that a user interface motivates or demotivates a user to accomplish a task with it. This capability has broad implications, and our method is faster and cheaper than traditional user studies. Second, we will create economic models of these motivations, predicting how systems of interfaces differentially affect production. Third, we will repeatably experiment with social systems by creating multiple copies of them with controlled and manipulated variables, and running the systems to observe the effects of our changes. These three contributions will let us experimentally optimize current systems, and design new systems, of greater complexity and novelty, with greater certainty of success. Our methodology relies on a novel use of Internet labor markets, specifically Amazon‘s Mechanical Turk, a place where interactive tasks (HCI) meet incentives and markets (Economics). With controlled payments to real people we can simulate and study a wide range of social-computational phenomena that was not possible before.

Richard Akresh Seminar - Friday 3 March

Richard Akresh from Illinios will be giving a seminar Friday 3 March. His main research area is development economics and he has worked on areas like child fostering, health and civil war. The title of the paper is "School Enrollment Impacts of Non-traditional Household Structure". The abstract is below:

Children growing up away from their biological parents may experience lower human capital investment. This paper measures the impact of child fostering on school enrollment using fixed effects regressions to address the endogeneity of fostering. Data collection by the author involved tracking and interviewing the sending and receiving household participating in each fostering exchange, allowing a comparison of foster children with their non-fostered biological siblings. Young foster children are 17.5 and 17.9 percent more likely to be enrolled after fostering than their host and biological siblings, respectively. This schooling improvement translates into a long-run improvement in educational and occupational attainment.

Yoonseok Lee - Job Market Candidate

We have Yoonseok Lee from Yale as a job candidate Wendesday 1 February. The seminar will *not* be in the usual room, but instead in Savery 110 C. The time remains the same: 2.00 - 3.30. The title of his paper is "Nonparametric Estimation of Dynamic Panel Models". Abstract: This paper develops nonparametric estimation of dynamic panel models using series approximations. We extend the standard linear dynamic panel model to a nonparametric form that maintains additive fixed effects, where the fixed effects are eliminated by the within transformation. This approach generalizes earlier work on cross sectional series estimation by Newey (1997). Nonlinear homogenous Markov process is properly conditioned to be a stationary β-mixing. Convergence rates and the asymptotic distribution of the series estimator are derived when both the cross section sample size and the length of the time series are large and of comparable sizes. Just as for pooled estimation in linear dynamic panels, an asymptotic bias is present, which reduces the mean square convergence rate compared with the cross section case. To tackle this problem, bias correction is developed using a heteroskedasticity and autocorrelation consistent (HAC) type estimator. Some extensions of this framework are also considered under exogenous variables and partial linear models. The limit theory and bias correction formulae follow by extending the main results. Finally, an empirical study on nonlinearities in cross-country growth regressions is presented to illustrate the use of the nonparametric dynamic panel models with fixed effects. After bias correction, the convergence hypothesis is true only for countries in the upper income range and for OECD countries.

Kyoo il Kim - Job Candidate

Kyoo il Kim is a job candidate for our open position as a micro-econometrician.He is from University of California, Los Angeles, and will be here Friday 27 January. His job talk will take place in Savery 302 at 2.00 PM. Title and abstract are below:

Semiparametric Estimation of Signaling Games

ABSTRACT: This paper studies an econometric modeling of a signaling game with two players where one player has two types. In particular, we develop an estimation strategy that identifies the payoffs structure and the distribution of types from data of observed actions. We can achieve uniqueness of equilibrium using a refinement, which enables us to identify the parameters of interest. In the game, we consider non-strategic public signals about the types. Since the mixing distribution of these signals are nonparametrically specified, we estimate the model using a sieve conditional MLE or a sieve minimum distance estimation. In both methods, we achieve the consistency and the root n-asymptotic normality of the structural parameter estimates. As an alternative, we allow for the possibility of multiple equilibria, without using an equilibrium selection rule. As a consequence, we adopt a set inference allowing for multiplicity of equilibria. Then, we illustrate an empirical example of a signaling game between publicly traded firms and investors where firms have one of two types: market leader or follower. In this game, firms signal their types through strategic emphasis on R&D or market spending. The estimation result suggests that defining a leader firm in terms of R&D spending without consideration of strategic behaviors can be misleading.

Sung Jae Jun - Job Candidate

Sung Jae Jun, Brown University, will be at the department on Friday 20 January. He is a job candidate for the position as micro-econometrician. His job talk takes place at 2:00pm in Savery 302. Title and abstract below. Weak Identification Robust Tests in an Instrumental Quantile Model

ABSTRACT: We consider the linear instrumental quantile model proposed by Chernozhukov and Hansen (2001, 2005a, 2005b). Since it is never clear for what quantile effects the given instruments are most informative, we develop a testing procedure that is robust to identification quality in the GMM framework. In order to reduce the computational burden, a multi-step approach is taken, and a two-step Anderson-Rubin (AR) statistic is considered. We then propose a three-step orthogonal decomposition of the AR statistic, where the null distribution of each component does not depend on the assumption of a full rank of the Jacobian. Power experiments are conducted, and inferences on returns to schooling using the Angrist and Krueger data are considered as an empirical example. Although returns to schooling for the upper quantiles seem to be quite consistent, the robust confidence sets for the lower quantiles are so wide that they still remain imprecise, which differs from the results in Lee (2004) and Chernozhukov and Hansen (2005b).

Robert Willis seminar - Friday 19 Dec

Robert Willis, University of Michigan, will be presenting his paper "Estimating Knightian Uncertainty from Survival Probability Questions on the HRS" on Friday at 2.00 PM in Savery 302. Willis is a UW PhD from 1971. After his seminar presentation there will be a reception from 3:30-5 PM in Savery 207 (the Sociology Commons). More information about Willis can be found at here.

Labour/Development Brown Bag Today

I am presenting at the Labour/Development Brown Bag today (14 October) at 12.30 in Savery Hall 302. The title of the paper is "Adult Literacy Programs In Ghana: An Evaluation" (joint with Niels-Hugo Blunch). This is very much work in progress and both the title and the content is likely to change, but that is after all what brown bags are for. I hope to have a working paper version of this paper ready by the end of the month. See below for the abstract.

This paper examines the effect of adult literacy program participation on household consumption in Ghana. We find that in most cases there is no significant effect on consumption from participation after allowing for self-selection into the program. For households where no adults have completed any formal education there is, however, a substantial positive and statistically significant effect on household consumption, pointing towards the potential importance of adult literacy programs for the parts of the population which have not participated in the formal education system. Possible explanations for why adult literacy program participation does not seem to significantly affect households where some formal education has been attained are explored, as well.

Kaivan Munshi Seminar on Monday 11 October

Kaivan Munshi from Brown University will be giving a seminar on Monday 11 October at 3.30 PM in Savery Hall 302. The title of his talk is "Women as Agents of Change: Female Incomes and Household Decisions in South India." The paper is joint work with Nancy Luke. Anybody wishing to talk to Munshi while he is here should contact Elaina Rose. The abstract of the paper is

This paper exploits a unique setting - tea estates in the south Indian High Range - to provide empirical support for the view that sustained economic empowerment can lead to social and economic change in even the most disadvantaged segments of society. Female workers earn substantially more than male workers on the tea estates, and these unusual gender patterns have been in place for multiple generations. In addition, low caste and high caste workers have the same incomes and access to the same facilities on the estates. We find that the low castes have higher schooling and are less likely to marry in the traditional fashion than the high castes, reversing the usual pattern that is found in the rest of South India. Looking within the household to better understand the detminants of these choices, we find that a relative increase in female income increases children's schooling and moves the family away from the traditional social patterns, most significantly among the low castes. Low caste women emerge as independent agents of change in this research setting, shifting their households from the traditional social patterns, most significantly among the low castes. Low caste women emerge as independent agents of change in this research setting, shifting their households from the traditional economy into the modern market economy.