Information about this author at RePEc
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|November 2017||Depression through the Lens of Economics: A Research Agenda|
with Jonathan de Quidt
in The Economics of Poverty Traps, Christopher B. Barrett, Michael R. Carter, and Jean-Paul Chavas, editors
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses worldwide. Existing evidence suggests that it has both economic causes and consequences, such as unemployment. However, depression has not received significant attention in the economics literature, and existing work is almost entirely empirical. We see great potential for traditional, theoretical economic analysis to both develop new insights about depression, and to form new connections to other areas of economics. In this paper, we begin with an overview of the canonical symptoms of depression, identifying a set of key facts that lend themselves well to economic analysis. We illustrate these facts with descriptive analysis of data from Indonesia. We then discuss what we see as fruitful avenues for new theoreti...
|June 2017||How Soon Is Now? Evidence of Present Bias from Convex Time Budget Experiments|
with Uttara Balakrishnan, Pamela Jakiela: w23558
Empirically observed intertemporal choices about money have long been thought to exhibit present bias, i.e. higher short-term compared to long-term discount rates. Recently, this view has been called into question on both empirical and theoretical grounds, and a spate of recent findings suggest that present bias for money is minimal or non-existent when one allows for curvature in the utility function and transaction costs are tightly controlled. However, an alternative interpretation of many of these findings is that, in the interest of equalizing transaction costs across earlier and later payments, small delays were introduced between the time of the experiment and the soonest payment. We conduct a laboratory experiment in Kenya in which we elicit time and risk preference parameters from...
|Measuring and Bounding Experimenter Demand|
with Jonathan de Quidt, Christopher Roth: w23470
We propose a technique for assessing robustness of behavioral measures and treatment effects to experimenter demand effects. The premise is that by deliberately inducing demand in a structured way we can measure its influence and construct plausible bounds on demand-free behavior. We provide formal restrictions on choice that validate our method, and a Bayesian model that microfounds them. Seven pre-registered experiments with eleven canonical laboratory games and around 19,000 participants demonstrate the technique. We also illustrate how demand sensitivity varies by task, participant pool, gender, real versus hypothetical incentives, and participant attentiveness, and provide both reduced-form and structural analyses of demand effects.
|December 2016||Depression for Economists|
with Jonathan de Quidt: w22973
Major depressive disorder (MDD) is one of the most prevalent mental illnesses worldwide. Existing evidence suggests that it has both economic causes and consequences, such as unemployment. However, depression has not received significant attention in the economics literature. In this paper, we present a simple model which predicts the core symptoms of depression from economic primitives, i.e. beliefs. Specifically, we show that when exogenous shocks cause an agent to have pessimistic beliefs about the returns to her effort, this agent will exhibit depressive symptoms such undereating or overeating, insomnia or hypersomnia, and a decrease in labor supply. When these effects are strong enough, they can generate a poverty trap. We present descriptive evidence that illustrates the predicted re...