Empirical Microeconomics Workshop



Coordinators: Fall 2017 -  Bingxiao Wu and Jennifer Hunt
                       Spring 2018 - Anne Piehl and Rosanne Altshuler

  • The seminars meet on Fridays in New Jersey Hall 3rd Floor Library from 2:00 to 3:30 pm unless otherwise Noted.
  • Papers can be downloaded from the Department's website when available in advance.
  • Schedule of Dates and Speakers may change.

See all Empirical Microeconomics Workshops in the calendar


Spring 2018

February 9
Suresh Naidu, Columbia University
  "Monopsony and Employer Mis-optimization Account for Round Number Bunching in the Wage Distribution"

February 23
Jonathan Morduch, New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service
"Poverty and Migration in the Digital Age: Experimental Evidence on Mobile Banking in Bangladesh"

March 2
Li Liu, International Monetary Fund

March 23
Arik Levinson, Georgetown University

April 13
Yutian Yang
"Does Economic Prosperity Induce Unhealthy Behaviors?--Evidence From China"

Michael Cassidy
“A Home Away from (or Nearby) Home: Homeless Family Responses to Exogenous Benefit Variation in New York City”

April 20
Matthew Weinberg, Drexel University

April 27
Yilin Wu, Rutgers University (Ph.D. Graduate Student)

Won Hyung Lee, Rutgers University (Ph.D. Graduate Student)

Fall 2017

September 15
Jing Li, Weil Cornell Medical College at Cornell

Plastic Surgery or Primary Care?
Altruistic Preferences and Expected Specialty Choice of U.S. Medical Students
Understanding physicians' decisions when faced with conflicts between their own financial self-interest and patients’ economic or health interests is of key importance in health economics and policy. This issue is especially salient in certain medical specialties where less altruistic behavior of physicians can yield significant financial gains. This study adopts an experimental approach to examine altruistic preferences of medical students from schools around the U.S. and whether these preferences predict their expected medical specialty choice. The experimental design consists of a set of computer-based revealed preference decision problems which ask the experimental subjects to allocate real money between themselves and an anonymous person. These data are used to derive an innovative measure of altruism for each participant which we are the first to apply in health economics. We then examine the association between altruism and expected specialty choice, after controlling for an extensive set of covariates collected from a survey questionnaire which we fielded. We find substantial heterogeneity in altruistic preferences among experimental subjects. Medical students with a lower degree of altruism are significantly more likely to choose high-income specialties. This altruism measure is more predictive of specialty than a wide range of other characteristics including parental income, student loan amount and Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) score.

September 22
Abby Alpert. University of Pennsylvania
“Supply-Side Drug Policy in the Presence of Substitutes: Evidence from the Introduction of Abuse-Deterrent Opioids”

Abstract: Overdose deaths from prescription opioid pain relievers nearly quadrupled between 1999 and 2010, making this the worst drug overdose epidemic in U.S. history. In response, numerous supply-side interventions have aimed to limit access to opioids. However, these supply disruptions may have the unintended consequence of increasing the use of substitute drugs, including heroin. We study the consequences of one of the largest supply disruptions to date to abusable opioids – the introduction of an abuse-deterrent version of OxyContin in 2010. Our analysis exploits across state variation in exposure to the OxyContin reformulation. Using data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), we show that states with higher pre-2010 rates of OxyContin misuse experienced larger reductions in OxyContin misuse, permitting us to isolate consumer substitution responses. We estimate large differential increases in heroin deaths immediately after reformulation in states with the highest initial rates of OxyContin misuse. We find less evidence of differential reductions in overall opioid-related deaths, potentially due to substitution towards other opioids, including more harmful synthetic opioids such as fentanyl. Our results imply that a substantial share of the dramatic increase in heroin deaths since 2010 can be attributed to the reformulation of OxyContin.

September 29 - CANCELLED
William Skimmyhorm, USMA - West Point
"On the Determinants of Adult Outcomes: An Examination of Random Shocks to Children in Military Families"

October 6
Tatiana Homonoff, New York University
Do FICO Scores Influence Financial Behavior? Evidence from a Field Experiment with Student Loan Borrowers

This paper evaluates the impact of providing access to FICO scores on financial knowledge and behavior. We conduct a field experiment with over 400,000 student loan borrowers in which we randomize provision of information on the availability of the score. We estimate the impact of the intervention on financial outcomes using administrative credit report data. Borrowers in the treatment group are less likely to have any payments past due, more likely to have at least one revolving credit account, and have higher FICO scores after nine months. These effects persist over the full study period (21 months), even among a subgroup of borrowers whose communications are discontinued. We complement findings from our administrative data with a financial literacy survey of a subset of these student loan borrowers. We find no difference in general financial knowledge across treatment conditions, but find that treatment group members were more likely to accurately report their own FICO score; specifically, they were less likely to overestimate their score. These results suggest that the intervention may have led borrowers to calibrate their financial health and take actions to improve it. We argue that the unique characteristics of the FICO score—a personalized, quantifiable, dynamic metric that responds to consumer behavior—may be more effective at motivating change than other information based interventions.

October 13
Hannes Schwandt, University of Zurich

October 20
Andrew Barr, Texas A&M University
"Fighting Crime in the Cradle: The Effects of Early Childhood Food Stamp Access"

Abstract: Despite the extraordinary social costs of crime, relatively little is known about the early life determinates of later criminal behavior.
We explore the effect of access to nutritional assistance in early childhood. Using
variation in the rollout of the Food Stamp Program (FSP) in the 1960s and 70s, combined with criminal conviction data from North Carolina, we find that FSP availability in early childhood leads to large reductions in later criminal behavior. Each additional year of FSP availability in early childhood reduces the likelihood of a criminal conviction in adulthood by 3-4 percent. FSP availability has particularly strong effects on the most costly crime types for society: violent and felony convictions. These effects are substantially larger for non-whites, consistent with the higher levels of FSP participation in this population. Analogous estimates derived from the FBIs Uniform Crime Report data suggest similar reductions in arrests for violent crime. These results reveal an important additional benefit of the FSP and point to the existence of a previously unknown causal link between childhood nutrition and later criminal behavior. Even under conservative assumptions, the discounted social benefits from the
FSP’s later crime reduction exceed the costs of the program over this time period.

October 27 - CANCELLED
Jieun Choi, Ph.D. Student, Rutgers University

November 3
Jeah (Kyoungrae) Jung, Penn State University
"The Impact of a Federal Drug Pricing Program on Cancer Care Site and Spending in Medicare"

November 10
Yaa Akosa Antwai, Johns Hopkins University
"Does Physician Reimbursement Affect Treatment? Evidence from Restricting Balance Billing in California"

November 17
Leonard Wantchekon, Princeton University
"Education, Social Mobility and Risk Attitudes: Evidence from Benin"

December 1
John Bowblis, Miami University
"Occupational Licensing of Social Services and Nursing Home Quality: A Regression Discontinuity Approach"

December 8
Jessica Van Parys, CUNY Hunter College