Matthew Olckers


My favorite papers at the ASSA Meeting 2019

  • picks

I have started a tradition of selecting my favorite papers from the massive ASSA Annual Meeting. (Does three years make a tradition?) Here are my picks from 2017 and from 2018. Given my research interests, I like most of the papers in the networks sessions (here, here, here and here). Outside of networks, I found the following papers interesting.

Who Is More Generous with the Most Needy? Experimental Evidence from Bogota’s Stratification by Mariana Blanco and Patricio Dalton presented at the session titled Social Preferences with Not WEIRD (Western Educated Industrialized Rich Democratic) People.

  • First, the title of the session is great! I really like the experimental design showing that poor and rich are equally generous on average, but the rich just have more money.

Thy Neighbor’s Misfortune: Peer Effect on Consumption by Sumit Agarwal, Wenlan Qian and Xin Zou presented at the session titled Expectations in Household Finance.

  • When you see a neighbour become bankrupt, you reduce your own consumption.

Crowdsourcing and Optimal Market Design by Bobak Pakzad-Hurson presented at the session titled Auctions & Mechanism Design.

  • If we share our knowledge of product characteristics, a mechanism designer can get closer to the optimum. I really like the merger of crowdsourcing (a popular topic in computer science) with market design (a popular topic in economics.)

Does Elite Capture Matter? Local Elites and Targeted Welfare Programs in Indonesia by Vivi Alatas, Abhijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Benjamin Olken, Ririn Purnamasari and Matthew Wai-Poi presented at the session titled Intentional and Unintentional Effects of Safety Net Programs.

  • Elite capture is a hurdle for local participation in poverty targeting. Apparently, the hurdle is not very high. Elites did not manipulate poverty targeting in this field experiment.

What Do Consumers Consider Before They Choose? Identification from Asymmetric Demand Responses by Abi Adams and Jason Abaluck presented at the session titled Identification and Inference in Limited Attention Models.

  • Xavier Gabaix’s summer school at PSE sparked my interest in models of inattention. This looks like a big step in bringing these models to data.

Causal Methods for Panel Data by Susan Athey and Guido Imbens presented at the session titled Applied Machine Learning.

  • I am a massive fan of Susan Athey’s integration of machine learning tools with econometrics. This panel data method is intuitive and highly relevant. Also, check out the class Susan Athey and Guido Imbens gave.

The Effect of Superstar Firms on College Major Choice by Darwin Choi, Dong Lou and Abhiroop Mukherjee presented at the session titled Behavioral Corporate Finance.

  • I definitely experienced this during my undergrad in South Africa. Brand names are definitely important for attracting talent. Interestingly, this paper shows that talented students end up with lower pay by chasing the brands.

Time Discounting, Savings Behavior and Wealth Inequality by Claus Kreiner, Helga Duda-Fehr, Ernst Fehr, David Dreyer Lassen, Søren Leth-Petersen, Gregers Nytoft Rasmussen and Thomas Epper presented at the session titled Wealth Inequality & Wealth Taxation.

  • Fascinating evidence: “Our results suggest that savings behavior is a driver of the observed association between patience and wealth inequality as predicted by standard savings theory.