NBER Publications by Robert Hahn

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December 2016The Behavioralist as Policy Designer: The Need to Test Multiple Treatments to Meet Multiple Targets
with Robert D. Metcalfe, David Novgorodsky, Michael K. Price: w22886
We explore Tinbergen’s fundamental insight that policymakers need at least as many policy instruments as targets. We extend this idea using a large natural field experiment in water resource management. We use social comparisons and loss-framed messages to help achieve two goals of our partner utility: getting consumers to purchase drought-resistant plants and reducing water use. Our results show that seemingly related behavioral instruments can affect different household decisions. By themselves, social comparisons and loss framing have no significant impact on the number of rebate requests; when combined, however, they lead to a 36% increase in requests. Only loss framing leads to a significant increase in the purchase of drought-resistant plants, and only the social comparison reduces w...
September 2016Using Big Data to Estimate Consumer Surplus: The Case of Uber
with Peter Cohen, Jonathan Hall, Steven Levitt, Robert Metcalfe: w22627
Estimating consumer surplus is challenging because it requires identification of the entire demand curve. We rely on Uber’s “surge” pricing algorithm and the richness of its individual level data to first estimate demand elasticities at several points along the demand curve. We then use these elasticity estimates to estimate consumer surplus. Using almost 50 million individual-level observations and a regression discontinuity design, we estimate that in 2015 the UberX service generated about $2.9 billion in consumer surplus in the four U.S. cities included in our analysis. For each dollar spent by consumers, about $1.60 of consumer surplus is generated. Back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the overall consumer surplus generated by the UberX service in the United States in 2015...
March 2010The Effect of Allowance Allocations on Cap-and-Trade System Performance
with Robert N. Stavins: w15854
We examine an implication of the "Coase Theorem" which has had an important impact both on environmental economics and on public policy in the environmental domain. Under certain conditions, the market equilibrium in a cap-and-trade system will be cost-effective and independent of the initial allocation of tradable rights. That is, the overall cost of achieving a given aggregate emission reduction will be minimized, and the final allocation of permits will be independent of the initial allocation. We call this the independence property. This property is very important because it allows equity and efficiency concerns to be separated in a relatively straightforward manner. In particular, the property means that the government can establish the overall pollution-reduction goal for a cap-and-t...

Published: Robert W. Hahn & Robert N. Stavins, 2011. "The Effect of Allowance Allocations on Cap-and-Trade System Performance," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 54(S4), pages S267 - S294. citation courtesy of

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