Departmental Seminar

Departmental Seminar Information
Date Time Location Speaker Title Abstract
02/09/2012 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM Main Conference Room, 2102 SSH Building

Jason Shogren

University of Wyoming, Department of Economics

The Oath as a commitment device in economics Eliciting sincere preferences for non-market goods remains a challenge due to hypothetical bias – the gap between hypothetical monetary values and real economic commitments. The gap arises because people either overstate hypothetical values or understate real commitments or a combination of both. Herein we examine whether the traditional real-world institution of the solemn oath can improve preference elicitation. Applying the social psychology theory on the oath as a truth-telling-commitment device, we ask our bidders to swear on their honour to give honest answers prior to participating in an incentive-compatible second-price auction. The oath is an ancillary mechanism to commit bidders to bid sincerely in a second-price auction. Results from our induced valuation testbed treatments suggest the oath-only auctions outperform all other auctions (real and hypothetical). In our homegrown valuation treatments eliciting preferences for dolphin protection, the oath-only design induced people to treat as binding both their budget constraint (i.e., lower values on the high end of the value distribution) and participation constraint (i.e., positive values in place of the zero bids used to opt out of auction). Based on companion treatments, we show the oath works through an increase in the willingness to tell the truth, due to a strengthening of the intrinsic motivation to do so.
02/13/2012 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM Main Conference Room, 2102 SSH Building

Yang Yao

Peking University, China Centre for Economic Research

Subnational Leaders and Economic Growth: Evidence from Chinese Cities This paper studies the role of subnational leaders in economic growth using city-leader pair data collected from China’s 18 provinces for the period 1994-2008. A unique feature of China’s institutional arrangements is that local leaders are often moved from one city to another in the so-called promotion tournament. This allows us to compare leaders across cities. Two alternative specifications are adopted and both find that leaders matter for local economic growth. Further exploration shows that our sample does not suffer from biased attrition and our estimates of the leader effects are robust to transitory shocks and are not affected by nonrandom moves of leaders. Using the leaders’ personal effects estimated from our test, we find that more capable leaders are more likely to get promoted although their chances are nuanced by their ages. We also find that local economic growth is not a good predictor for promotion after leaders’ personal effects are controlled.
02/21/2012 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM Main Conference Room, 2102 SSH Building

Juan Pablo Montero

Catholic University, Santiago, Chile

The Effect of Transport Policies on Car Use: Theory and Evidence from Latin American Cities In an effort to reduce air pollution and congestion, Latin American cities have experimented with different policies to persuade drivers to give up their cars in favor of public transport. Two notable examples are the driving restriction pro­ gram introduced in Mexico-City in November of 1989 –Hoy-No-Circula (HNC)– and the public transport reform carried out in Santiago in February of 2007 – Transantiago (TS). We develop a simple model of car use and ownership, and show that policies that may appear effective in the short run can be highly detrimental in the long run, i.e., after households have adjusted their stock of vehicles. Based on hourly concentration records of carbon monoxide, which comes primarily from ve­ hicles exhaust, we find that household’s responses to both HNC and TS have been remarkably similar and consistent with the above: an expected short-run response followed by a rapid (before 11 months) increase in the stock of vehicles.
03/12/2012 4:10 PM - 5:30 PM Main Conference Room, 2102 SSH Building

Ian Coxhead

University of Wisconsin

Globalization, wages and skill premia in a transition economy: new evidence from Vietnam
03/16/2012 2:10 PM - 3:30 PM Main Conference Room, 2102 SSH Building

Chuck Mason

University of Wyoming

Why Do Firms Hold Oil Stockpiles? Persistent and significant privately-held stockpiles of crude oil have long been an important empirical regularity in the United States. Such stockpiles would not rationally be held in a traditional Hotelling-style model. How then can the existence of these inventories be explained? In the presence of sufficiently stochastic prices, oil extracting firms have an incentive to hold inventories to smooth production over time. An alternative explanation is related to a speculative motive - firms hold stockpiles intending to cash in on periods of particularly high prices. I argue that empirical evidence supports the former but not the latter explanation.