Book of Abstracts

Daniel L. Chen (with Carlos Berdejó)
Priming Ideology? Electoral Cycles Without Electoral Incentives Among U.S. Judges


We show that dissents, partisan voting, and setting precedent reflecting the political views of the judge's appointing president's party, all double, and reversals of lower courts increase 25%, just before presidential elections using a detailed 5% random sample from 1925-2002 and newly collected universe of cases from 1950-2007 on the U.S. Courts of Appeals. Changes in behavior are concentrated in media markets where campaign advertisements are greatest and in electorally pivotal states. Dissents by judges coincide with the closeness of the state's popular vote when that state has more electoral votes and with the monthly increase of campaign advertisements in their state of residence. We test and reject mechanical and incentive-based reasons for these changes in behavior and find evidence consistent with priming. Dissents increase most on topics of campaign advertisements, appear to occur just before publication, and cite miscellaneous non-merit, procedural reasons twice as often, yet are half as effective at getting the Supreme Court to reverse. Ideologically polarized environments, inexperience, and previous associative links magnify the effect of proximity to presidential elections, while war has a unifying effect, especially in polarized environments and among inexperienced judges. Our results suggest a possible channel for judicial partisanship that is neither based on legal philosophy nor completely conscious.

Guillaume Fréchette (with Marina Agranov, Thomas Palfrey, and Emanuel Vespa)
Static and Dynamic Underinvestment: An Experimental Investigation

An extensive literature in economics studies the efficiency of public good provision. Inefficiencies can arise as a consequence of free-riding. The problem can be more severe if the public good is cumulative (e.g. roads). In this case, an agent can free-ride with respect to the current and future generations. A recent literature in political economy highlights the importance of introducing dynamic considerations. A question that arises is whether extra inefficiencies resulting solely from dynamics are empirically large enough. In this paper we study this question in the laboratory. We develop an experimental design that allows us to disentangle inefficiencies that would result in a one-shot world (static inefficiencies) from extra inefficiencies that emerge in an environment in which decisions in the present affect the future (dynamic inefficiencies). We find support for the main theoretical predictions: dynamic inefficiencies increase as dynamic linkages increase and they represent a substantial portion of total inefficiencies when dynamic linkages are high.

David Gill (with Rebecca Stone)
Desert and Inequity Aversion in Teams (paper)

Teams are becoming increasingly important in work settings. We develop a framework to study the strategic implications of a meritocratic notion of desert under which team members care about receiving what they feel they deserve. Team members find it painful to receive less than their perceived entitlement, while receiving more may induce pleasure or pain depending on whether preferences exhibit desert elation or desert guilt. Our notion of desert generalizes distributional concern models to situations in which effort choices affect the distribution perceived to be fair; in particular, desert nests inequity aversion over money net of effort costs as a special case. When identical teammates share team output equally, desert guilt generates a continuum of symmetric equilibria. Equilibrium effort can lie above or below the level in the absence of desert, so desert guilt generates behavior consistent with both positive and negative reciprocity and may underpin social norms of cooperation.

Martin Kocher (with Peter Martinsson, Kristian Ove R. Myrseth, and Conny Wollbrant)
Strong, Bold, and Kind: Self-Control and Cooperation in Social Dilemmas (paper)

We develop a model that relates self-control and conflict identification to cooperation patterns in social dilemmas. As predicted, we find in a laboratory public goods experiment a robust association between stronger self-control and higher levels of cooperation. This means that there is evidence for an impulse to be selfish and that cooperative behavior requires self-control effort. Free-riders differ from other contributor types only in their tendency not to have identified a self-control conflict in the first place.

Thomas Markussen (with Jean-Robert and Louis Putterman)
Judicial Error and Cooperation - Punish the Innocent or Let the Guilty Go?

Cooperation can be sustained by an authority with the power to mete out sanctions for free riders, but law enforcement is prone to error. This paper experimentally analyzes preferences for and consequences of errors in formal sanctions against free riders in a public goods game. With Type I errors, even full contributors to the public good may be punished. With Type II errors, free riders may go unpunished. We find that judicial error undermines cooperation, and that the effects of Type I and II errors are symmetric. To investigate their relative (dis-)like for error, we let subjects choose what type of error to prevent. By use of an incentive-compatible mechanism, we find that subjects prefer Type II over Type I errors. However, the strength of this preference is fully in line with a motive to maximize income and does not indicate any additional psychological or fairness bias against Type I errors.

Lydia Mechtenberg (with Marco Battaglini)
When do conflicting parties share political power? An experimental study (paper)

When do privileged groups share their political power with other groups that have conflicting interests? We conducted a laboratory experiment to address this question. There are two groups of participants, the "yellows" and the "blues". The yellows collectively choose between the proportional voting rule and the simple-majorty rule, and all subjects participate in elections. In two control treatments, the blues can use a costly punishment option. The yellow group shares power voluntarily to only a small extent but is more inclined to do so if under threat of punishment. The blue group conditions punishment both on the voting rule and the electoral outcome. Under the proportional rule, they are more inclined to punish an unfavorable outcome.

Ragan Petrie (with Marco Castillo and Clarence Wardell)
Fundraising Through Online Social Networks: a Field Experiment on Peer-to-Peer Solicitation.

Two main reasons why people donate to charity are that they have been asked and asked by someone they care about. One would therefore expect that charitable organizations could benefit from peer-‐to-‐peer fundraising if they were able to persuade donors to do so for them. However, little is known on the costs and benefits of asking donors to fundraise. We investigate this by implementing a field experiment embedded in an online giving organization’s web page. In our experiment, donors who have completed an online transaction were randomly asked to share having donated by posting on their Facebook (FB) wall or by sending a private message to a friend on FB. To further explore the impact of incentives on the willingness to fundraise, donors were also assigned to one of three treatments in which the organization added either $0, $1 or $5 in the donor's name in exchange for sharing the information. We have several findings: (1) Donors respond to incentives: larger add-‐on donations increase the willingness to share having made a donation. (2) Nuisance costs matter: willingness to share is over two times higher among those already logged into FB. (3) The type of ask matters: willingness to share via a wall post or via a private message is different. (4) The benefits of incentivizing peer-‐to-‐peer fundraising exceed the costs. However, this requires for charitable organizations to customize fundraising.

Louis Putterman (with Kenju Kamei)
In Broad Daylight: Fuller Information and Higher-Order Punishment Opportunities Can Promote Cooperation. (paper)

The expectation that non-cooperators will be punished can help to sustain cooperation, but there are competing claims about whether opportunities to engage in higher-order punishment (punishing punishment or failure to punish) help or undermine cooperation in social dilemmas. Varying treatments of a voluntary contributions experiment, we find that availability of higher-order punishment opportunities increases cooperation and efficiency when subjects have full information on the pattern of punishing and its history, when any subject can punish any other, and when the numbers of punishment and of contribution stages are not too unequal.

Carmit Segal (with Amalia Miller)
Do Female Officers Improve Law Enforcement Quality? Effects on Crime Reporting and Domestic Violence Escalation

We study the impact of the integration of women in policing between the late 1970s and early 1990s on violent crime reporting and domestic violence escalation. Along these two key dimensions, we find that female officers improved police quality. Using crime victimization data, we find that as female representation increases among officers in an area, violent crimes against women in that area, and especially domestic violence, are reported to the police at significantly higher rates. There are no such effects for violent crimes against men or from increases in the share of female civilian police employees. Furthermore, we find evidence that female officers help prevent the escalation of intimate partner violence. Increases in female officer representation are followed by significant declines in intimate partner homicide rates of both male and female victims and in rates of repeated domestic abuse. These effects are all consistent between fixed effects models with controls for economic and policy variables and instrumental variables models that focus exclusively on increases in female police employment driven by externally-imposed affirmative action plans.

Moses Shayo (with Asaf Zussman)
Ethnic Conflict and Legal Institutions: a Persistent Effect

We study judicial decisions in Israeli civil cases involving Jewish and Arab litigants and judges. The analysis covers a period characterized by intense ethnic violence followed by a period of relative calm. We find evidence for judicial ethnic bias: in both periods a claim ist significantly more likely to be accepted when assigned to a judge of the same ethnicity as the plaintiff. Surprisingly, the extent of judicial bias did not diminish after violence has subsided. Focusing on the post-conflict period, we find that variation in the extent of bias can be traced to variation in past exposure to violence. This persistent effect seems to reflect institutional inertia rather than a personal scarring effect of exposure to ethnic violence. Finally, while the overall level of bias in the judicial system persists, past exposure to violence explains less of the difference across courts as time goes by.