Working Papers


Exploiting the randomized expansion of preferential college admissions in Chile, we show they increased admission and enrollment of disadvantaged students by 32%. But the intended beneficiaries were nearly three times as many, and of higher average ability, than those induced to be admitted.

We document individual willingness to fight climate change and its behavioral determinants in a large representative sample of US adults. Willingness to fight climate change - as measured through an incentivized donation decision - is highly heterogeneous across the population.

We study response behavior in surveys and show how the explanatory power of self-reports can be improved. First, we develop a choice model of survey response behavior under the assumption that the respondent has imperfect self-knowledge about her individual characteristics.

We document economists' opinions about what is worth knowing and ask (i) which research objectives economic research should embrace and (ii) which topics it should study. Almost 10,000 economic researchers from all fields and ranks of the profession participated in our global survey.

We investigate an Educational Attainment Polygenic Score (EA PGS), an index that predicts years of formal education based on individual genetic data.

Reporting private information is a key part of economic decision making. A recent literature has found that many people have a preference for honest reporting, contrary to usual economic assumptions.

This paper studies whether sibling gender affects personality traits. We use the idea that if parents decide to have a second child, it is random whether they will have a boy or a girl.

Inequality of opportunity strikes when two children with the same academic performance are sent to different quality schools because their parents differ in socio-economic status.

Using uniquely detailed data on primary school children, we show that teachers who hold prejudicial attitudes towards an ethnic group create socially segregated classrooms.

We go beyond estimating the effect of college attainment on longevity by uncovering the mechanisms behind this effect while controlling for latent skills and unobserved heterogeneity.

We evaluate the impact of an educational program that aims to build inter-ethnic cohesion in schools by developing perspective-taking ability in children. The program takes place in southeastern Turkey, a high-stakes context in which there has been a massive influx of refugees.

The growing gender gap in educational attainment between men and women has raised concerns that the skill development of boys may be more sensitive to family disadvantage than that of girls.

This paper investigates whether encouraging children to become more physically active in their everyday life affects their primary school performance.

The equal division of goods is a long-existing social norm present in societies around the world. In order to ensure that the egalitarian norm is followed, people engage in costly enforcement of norm-violating behavior.

In this paper, we first document trends in the gender composition of academic economists over the past 25 years, the extent to which these trends encompass the most elite departments, and how women’s representation across fields of study within economics has changed.

We uncover heterogeneity in social preferences with a structural model that accounts for outcome-based and reciprocity-based social preferences and assigns individuals to endogenously determined preferences types.

We show that the disposition to focus on favorable or unfavorable outcomes of risky situations affects willingness to take risk as measured by the general risk question.

By downplaying externalities, magnifying the cost of moral behavior, or suggesting not being pivotal, exculpatory narratives can allow individuals to maintain a positive image when in fact acting in a morally questionable way.

Intergenerational mobility is often studied using survey data. In such settings, selective unit or item non-response may bias estimates.

This study presents descriptive and causal evidence on the role of social environment for the formation of prosociality.

U.S.-born Mexican Americans suffer a large schooling deficit relative to other Americans, and standard data sources suggest that this deficit does not shrink between the 2nd and later generations.

This paper explores inequalities in IQ and economic preferences between children from high and low socio-economic status (SES) families. We document that children from high SES families are more intelligent, patient and altruistic, as well as less risk-seeking.

We use the high IQ Terman sample to estimate relationships between education, socioemotional skills, and health-related outcomes that include health behaviors, lifestyles, and health measures across the lifecycle.

In the 1960s at Stanford University’s Bing Preschool, children were given the option of taking an immediate, smaller reward or receiving a delayed, larger reward by waiting until the experimenter returned.

We study the effect of elementary school teachers' beliefs about gender roles on student achievement. We exploit a natural experiment where teachers are prevented from self-selecting into schools, and conditional on school, students are allocated to teachers randomly.

This paper studies the causal effect of status differences on moral disengagement and violence. To measure violent behavior, in the experiment, a subject can inflict a painful electric shock on another subject in return for money.

We show that optimistic beliefs regarding the role of effort in success, while leading to success, diminish the individual’s sympathy toward the unsuccessful. We generate random variation in the degree of optimism about the productivity of effort via an effective educational intervention.

Numerous signaling models in economics assume image concerns. These take two forms, as relating either to social image or self-image. While empirical work has identified the behavioral importance of the former, less is known about the role of enhanced self-image concerns.

The educational attainment of young women now exceeds that of young men in most of the developed world, and women account for about 60% of new four-year college graduates in the United States.

Two common hypotheses regarding the relative benefits of vocational versus general education are (1) that vocational skills enhance relative short-term earnings and (2) that general skills enhance relative long-term earnings. Empirical evidence for these hypotheses has remained limited.

This paper studies the causal effect of birth spacing (i.e., the age difference between siblings) on personality traits. We use longitudinal data from a large British cohort which has been followed from birth until age 42.

Numerous signaling models in economics assume image concerns. These take two forms, as relating either to social image or self-image. While empirical work has identified the behavioral importance of the former, little is known about the role of self-image concerns.

We examine the differential effects of family disadvantage on the education and adult labor market outcomes of men and women using high-quality administrative data on the entire population of Denmark born between 1966 and 1995.

Across academic sub-fields such as labor, education, and behavioral economics, the measurement and interpretation of non-cognitive skills varies widely. As a result, it is difficult to compare results on the importance of non-cognitive skills across literatures.

We study the evolution of gender differences in the willingness to assume the decision-maker role in a group, which is a major component of leadership.

This paper investigates physiological responses to perceptions of unfair pay. We use an integrated approach exploiting complementarities between controlled lab and representative panel data. In a simple principal-agent experiment agents produce revenue by working on a tedious task.

We study how diffusing being pivotal affects the willingness to support immoral outcomes. Subjects decide about agreeing to kill mice and receiving money versus objecting to kill mice and foregoing the monetary amount.

According to standard dynamic choice theories, patience is a key driving factor behind the accumulation of the proximate determinants of economic development.

This study presents descriptive and causal evidence on the role of social environment for the formation of prosociality.

This paper presents the Global Preference Survey, a globally representative dataset on risk and time preferences, positive and negative reciprocity, altruism, and trust.

This paper presents an experimentally validated survey module to measure six key economic preferences { risk aversion, discounting, trust, altruism, positive and negative reciprocity in a reliable, parsimonious and cost-effective way.

We show that socio-economic status (SES) is a powerful predictor of many facets of a child's personality. The facets of personality we investigate encompass time preferences, risk preferences, and altruism, as well as crystallized and fluid IQ.

The majority of lower socioeconomic status (SES) households in the U.S. and Europe do not have any stock investments, which is detrimental to wealth accumulation.

We show that grit, a non-cognitive skill that has been shown to be highly predictive of achievement, is malleable in the childhood period and can be fostered in the classroom environment.

We report results from the impact evaluation of a randomized educational intervention targeted at elementary school children. The program uses case studies, stories and classroom activities to improve the ability to imagine future selves, and emphasizes forward-looking behavior.

Research and policy discussion about the diverging fortunes of children from advantaged and disadvantaged households have focused on the skill disparities between these children-how they might arise and how they might be remediated.

In this chapter, we articulate a developmental perspective on personality traits from early childhood through adulthood.

The formation of human capital is important for a society's welfare and economic success. Recent literature shows that child health can provide an important explanation for disparities in children's human capital development across different socio-economic groups.