NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Petra Persson

Department of Economics
Stanford University
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305
Tel: 650/723-4116

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NBER Program Affiliations: PE
NBER Affiliation: Faculty Research Fellow

NBER Working Papers and Publications

September 2017Attention Manipulation and Information Overload
w23823
Limits on consumer attention give firms incentives to manipulate prospective buyers’ allocation of attention. This paper models such attention manipulation and shows that it limits the ability of disclosure regulation to improve consumer welfare. Competitive information supply, from firms competing for attention, can reduce consumers’ knowledge by causing information overload. A single firm subjected to a disclosure mandate may deliberately induce such information overload to obfuscate financially relevant information, or engage in product complexification to bound consumers’ financial literacy. Thus, disclosure rules that would improve welfare for agents without attention limitations can prove ineffective for consumers with limited attention. Obfuscation suggests a role for rules that man...
May 2016Family Ruptures, Stress, and the Mental Health of the Next Generation
with Maya Rossin-Slater: w22229
This paper studies how in utero exposure to maternal stress from family ruptures affects later mental health. We find that prenatal exposure to the death of a maternal relative increases take-up of ADHD medications during childhood and anti-anxiety and depression medications in adulthood. Further, family ruptures during pregnancy depress birth outcomes and raise the risk of perinatal complications necessitating hospitalization. Our results suggest large welfare gains from preventing fetal stress from family ruptures and possibly from economically induced stressors such as unemployment. They further suggest that greater stress exposure among the poor may partially explain the intergenerational persistence of poverty.
April 2016The Long-term Consequences of Teacher Discretion in Grading of High-stakes Tests
with Rebecca Diamond: w22207
We examine the long-term consequences of teacher discretion in grading of high-stakes tests. Bunching in Swedish math test score distributions reveal that teachers inflate students who have “a bad test day,” but do not to discriminate based on immigrant status or gender. By developing a new estimator, we show that receiving a higher grade leads to far-reaching educational and earnings benefits. Because grades do not directly raise human capital, these results emphasize that grades can signal to students and teachers within the educational system, and suggest important dynamic complementarities between students’ effort and their perception of their own ability.
 
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