Quicksand or Bedrock for Behavioral Economics? Assessing Foundational Empirical Questions
NBER Working Paper No. 23625
Behavioral economics lacks empirical evidence on some foundational empirical questions. We adapt standard elicitation methods to measure multiple behavioral factors per person in a representative U.S. sample, along with financial condition, cognitive skills, financial literacy, classical preferences and demographics. Individually, B-factors are prevalent, distinct from other decision inputs, and correlate negatively with financial outcomes in richly-conditioned regressions. Conditioning further on other B-factors does not change the results, validating common practice of modeling B-factors separately. Corrections for low task/survey effort modestly strengthen the results. Our findings provide bedrock empirical foundations for behavioral economics, and offer methodological guidance for research designs.
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Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w23625