NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Publications by Paul Niehaus

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March 2014Payments Infrastructure and the Performance of Public Programs: Evidence from Biometric Smartcards in India
with Karthik Muralidharan, Sandip Sukhtankar: w19999
Anti-poverty programs in developing countries are often difficult to implement as intended; one common challenge is governments' limited capacity to deliver payments securely to targeted beneficiaries. We evaluate the impact of biometrically-authenticated payments infrastructure on public employment and pension programs in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, using a large-scale experiment that randomized the rollout of the new system over 158 sub-districts and 19 million people. We find that, while far from perfectly implemented, the new system delivered a faster, more predictable, and less corrupt payments process without adversely affecting program access. Distributions of key outcomes in treated areas first-order stochastically dominated those in control areas, and beneficiaries overwhe...
May 2011Managing Self-Confidence: Theory and Experimental Evidence
with Markus M. Mobius, Muriel Niederle, Tanya S. Rosenblat: w17014
Evidence from social psychology suggests that agents process information about their own ability in a biased manner. This evidence has motivated exciting research in behavioral economics, but has also garnered critics who point out that it is potentially consistent with standard Bayesian updating. We implement a direct experimental test. We study a large sample of 656 undergraduate students, tracking the evolution of their beliefs about their own relative performance on an IQ test as they receive noisy feedback from a known data-generating process. Our design lets us repeatedly measure the complete relevant belief distribution incentive-compatibly. We find that subjects (1) place approximately full weight on their priors, but (2) are asymmetric, over-weighting positive feedback relative to...

Contact and additional information for this authorAll NBER papers and publicationsNBER Working Papers only

 
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