The Impact of Forced Migration on In-Group and Out-Group Social Capital (2022)
(Joint with Anselm Hager)
In this paper, we study how forced migration impacts the in-group and out-group social capital of Syrian refugees and the host population in Northern Lebanon by administering a novel survey experiment in which we manipulate the salience of the migration experience (for refugees) and the refugee crisis (for the host population). Additionally, we study the social spillovers to Palestinians, an established refugee population in Lebanon. We find that the impact of forced migration is largely restricted to the Syrian refugee-Lebanese host population channel, and that it increases the relative disparity between in-group and out-group social capital. This may cause refugees to favor in-group interactions and therefore forgo more economically advantageous interactions with out-group members. [PAPER; Companion Paper]
Strategic Communication in Committees with Mixed Motives (2021)
R&R RAND (Joint with Yves Breitmoser)
This paper explores strategic communication in settings where committee members are held accountable, formally or informally, for their individual voting decisions. In a controlled laboratory experiment, we show that if decisions are made via majority, expressive payoffs introduce a free-rider problem that causes agents to communicate strategically, which prevents the committee from taking optimal decisions. In contrast, if decisions are made by unanimity, free-riding is mitigated since all agents are responsible for the committee's decision: under unanimity subjects are more truthful, respond more to others' messages, and are ultimately more likely to take the optimal decision. [PAPER]
When voters like to be right: An analysis of the Condorcet Jury Theorem with mixed motives (2021)
(Joint with Rune Midjord and Tomás Rodríguez Barraquer)
We study voting behavior in large committees when agents have mixed motives. Importantly, we extend the literature by considering expressive payoffs that may condition on the ex-ante uncertain state of the world, and allow for heterogeneity of expressive payoffs. Surprisingly, we find that even when agents are rewarded for matching their individualvote to the state, mixed motives prevent the committee from consistently reaching optimal decisions. That is, while a given distribution of expressive payoffs can lead to optimaldecisions for some information structures, the committee decision is always insensitive to the profile of private information for other information structures. Journal of Economic Theory, 198. [PAPER]
Optimal Decision Rules in Multilateral Aid Funds (2021)
(Joint with Axel Dreher and Jenny Simon)
When donor countries commit to allocate foreign aid via collective decision making, recipient countries are induced to compete over ex ante investments in good governance. Majority rule induces stronger competition between recipients, but limits aid to a strict subset of recipient countries, which implies that unanimity is often optimal. Review of International Organizations, 16, pp. 689–719. [PAPER]
Social Polarization and Political Selection in Representative Democracies (2019)
(Joint with Dominik Duell)
We provide theoretical and experimental evidence that social polarization influences voting through an expressive channel, as voters become more likely to vote instinctively, and through an instrumental channel, as voters expect candidates to take decisions that are favorable to their partisan in-groups. Our results confirm that affective polarization decreases the electoral prospects of high-quality candidates, as voters become more likely to choose based on identity rather than ability. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 168, pp. 132-65 [PAPER]
Dynamic Reform of Public Institutions: A Model of Motivated Agents and Collective Reputation (2018)
When motivated agents value the collective reputation of their place of employment, steady-state equilibria with both high and low aggregate motivation (reputation) in the mission-oriented sector exist. Since the effect of higher wages on motivation is negative for a high-reputation institution, but positive for a low-reputation institution, transitioning to a high-reputation steady state requires an initial wage increase to crowd motivated workers in, followed by a wage decrease to crowd non-motivated workers out. Journal of Public Economics, 168, pp. 94-108 [PAPER]
Voting in Large Committees with Disesteem Payoffs: A ‘state of the art’ model (2017)
(Joint with Rune Midjord and Tomás Rodríguez Barraquer)
If committee members receive idiosyncratic payoffs linked to the correctness of their individual vote, then the standard model predicts that a committee will always accept innovations with too high a probability. However, a natural variation of the model predicts that the committee may accept or reject the innovation with too high a probability depending on the relative size of the payoffs for correctly voting to accept/reject.
Games and Economic Behavior, 104, pp. 430–443 [PAPER, Distinguished CESifo Affiliate Award] [Supplementary Appendix]
Centralized Fiscal Spending by Supranational Unions (2017)
(Joint with Jenny Simon)
When countries with asymmetric incomes bargain over a central budget, an inefficient allocation results since bargaining power is linked to contributions. This link explains why EU resources are diverted to low-productivity projects in high-income countries.
Economica, 84(1), pp. 78-103. [PAPER; Klaus Liebscher Award for "papers dedicated to Economic and Monetary Union and European integration issues"]
A Note on Empathy in Games (2015)
(Joint with Jan Grohn and Steffen Huck)
We illustrate how some insights from the psychological literature on empathy can be incorporated into a standard utility framework, and demonstrate the potential interaction of beliefs and utility through the channel of empathy.
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 108, pp. 383–388. [PAPER]
Get Out The Vote: How Policies That Encourage Voting Change Political Outcomes (2012)
I consider a joint model of voter turnout and candidates' choice of political positions and show that lowering the net expense of voting reduces political polarization.
Economics and Politics, 24 (3), pp. 346-373. [PAPER]
Institutionalizing Eurozone Exit: A modified NEWNEY approach (2012)
(Joint with Steffen Huck)
We argue that the Eurozone needs an institutional exit mechanism to enhance Eurozone stability, and propose modifications to the Dobbs' NEWNEY mechanism.
The Connection Between Turnout and Policy (2010)
(Joint with Malin Arve)
In this project, we explore the impact of identity-homophily in a model of labor-market sorting with mentorship. For example, identity-homophily in the PhD student/mentor match is a well-documented fact in some fields of academia. We find that when career entrants (mentees) value both the identity and quality of their mentor, then multiple steady states exist. Importantly, we show that identity-based hiring quotas can result in a transition to the efficient steady state, with equal representation of both identity-types. However, if the quota is set too high initially, then the labor market will transition to an inefficient steady-state where high-quality mentees of the underrepresented type select out of the profession.
Joint with Yves Breitmoser.
We report on the results of an experiment designed to disentangle behavioral biases in information aggregation in committees. We find that comittee decisions are significantly more efficient than predicted by Bayesian equilibrium even with lying aversion. Messages are truthful, subjects correctly anticipate the truthfulness (contradicting limited depth of reasoning), but strikingly overestimate their pivotality when voting (contradicting plain lying aversion). That is, committees are efficient because members message truthfully and vote non-strategically. We show that all facets of behavior are predicted by base rate fallacy, subjects overshooting in Bayesian updating, which implies that subjects exaggerate the importance of truthful messages and sincere voting. A simple one-parameteric generalization of quantal response equilibrium capturing base rate fallacy covers 87 percent of observed noise.