NBER Working Papers by Dmitry Taubinsky

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Working Papers

December 2013The Lightbulb Paradox: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments
with Hunt Allcott: w19713
Imperfect information and inattention to energy costs are important potential justifications for energy efficiency standards and subsidies. We evaluate these policies in the lightbulb market using a theoretical model and two randomized experiments. We derive welfare effects as functions of reduced-form sufficient statistics capturing economic and psychological parameters, which we estimate using a novel within-subject information disclosure experiment. In the context of the model, the main results suggest that moderate subsidies for energy efficient lightbulbs may increase welfare, but informational and attentional biases alone do not justify a ban on incandescent lightbulbs.
April 2012Energy Policy with Externalities and Internalities
with Hunt Allcott, Sendhil Mullainathan: w17977
We analyze optimal policy when consumers of energy-using durables undervalue energy costs relative to their private optima. First, there is an Internality Dividend from Externality Taxes: aside from reducing externalities, they also offset distortions from underinvestment in energy efficiency. Discrete choice simulations of the auto market suggest that the Internality Dividend could more than double the social welfare gains from a carbon tax at marginal damages. Second, we develop the Internality Targeting Principle: the optimal combination of multiple instruments depends on the average internality of the consumers marginal to each instrument. Because consumers who undervalue energy costs are mechanically less responsive to energy taxes, the optimal policy will tend to involve an energy ta...

Allcott, Hunt, Sendhil Mullainathan, and Dmitry Taubinsky (Forthcoming). “Energy Policy with Externalities and Internalities.” Journal of Public Economics.

September 2008Measuring intertemporal preferences using response times
with Christopher F. Chabris, David Laibson, Carrie L. Morris, Jonathon P. Schuldt: w14353
We use two different approaches to measure intertemporal preferences. First we employ the classical method of inferring preferences from a series of choices (subjects choose between $X now or $Y in D days). Second we adopt the novel approach of inferring preferences using only response time data from the same choices (how long it takes subjects to choose between $X now or $Y in D days). In principle, the inference from response times should work, since choices between items of nearly equivalent value should take longer than choices between items with substantially different values. We find that choice-based analysis and response-time-based analysis yield nearly identical discount rate estimates. We conclude that response time data sheds light on both our revealed (choice-based) preferences...
August 2008Individual Laboratory-Measured Discount Rates Predict Field Behavior
with Christopher F. Chabris, David Laibson, Carrie L. Morris, Jonathon P. Schuldt: w14270
We estimate discount rates of 555 subjects using a laboratory task and find that these individual discount rates predict inter-individual variation in field behaviors (e.g., exercise, BMI, smoking). The correlation between the discount rate and each field behavior is small: none exceeds 0.28 and many are near 0. However, the discount rate has at least as much predictive power as any variable in our dataset (e.g., sex, age, education). The correlation between the discount rate and field behavior rises when field behaviors are aggregated: these correlations range from 0.09-0.38. We present a model that explains why specific intertemporal choice behaviors are only weakly correlated with discount rates, even though discount rates robustly predict aggregates of intertemporal decisions.

Published: Christopher Chabris & David Laibson & Carrie Morris & Jonathon Schuldt & Dmitry Taubinsky, 2008. "Individual laboratory-measured discount rates predict field behavior," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 237-269, December. citation courtesy of

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