NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

NBER Working Papers by Margaret McConnell

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Working Papers

May 2014To Charge or Not to Charge: Evidence from a Health Products Experiment in Uganda
with Greg Fischer, Dean Karlan, Margaret McConnell, Pia Raffler: w20170
Pricing policy for any experience good faces a key tradeoff. On one hand, a price reduction increases immediate demand and hence more people learn about the product. On the other hand, lower prices may serve as price anchors and, through a comparison effect, decrease subsequent demand. This tension is particularly important for the distribution of health products in low-income countries, where free or heavily subsidized distribution is a common but controversial practice. Based on a model combining the learning aspect of experience goods with reference-dependent preferences, we setup a field experiment in Northern Uganda in which three health products differing in their scope for learning were initially offered either for free or for sale at market prices. In line with prior studies, when ...
January 2012Hey Look at Me: The Effect of Giving Circles on Giving
with Dean Karlan, Margaret A. McConnell: w17737
Theories abound for why individuals give to charity. We conduct a field experiment with donors to a Yale University service club to test the impact of a promise of public recognition on giving. Some may claim that they respond to an offer of public recognition not to improve their social standing, but rather to motivate others to give. To tease apart these two theories, we conduct a laboratory experiment with undergraduates, and find no evidence to support the alternative, altruistic motivation. We conclude that charitable gifts increase in response to the promise of public recognition primarily because of individuals' desire to improve their social image.
July 2010Getting to the Top of Mind: How Reminders Increase Saving
with Dean Karlan, Margaret McConnell, Sendhil Mullainathan, Jonathan Zinman: w16205
We develop and test a simple model of limited attention in intertemporal choice. The model posits that individuals fully attend to consumption in all periods but fail to attend to some future lumpy expenditure opportunities. This asymmetry generates some predictions that overlap with models of present-bias. Our model also generates the unique predictions that reminders may increase saving, and that reminders will be more effective when they increase the salience of a specific expenditure. We find support for these predictions in three field experiments that randomly assign reminders to new savings account holders.

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