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Jel Classification:D8 

How do college students form expectations?

This paper focuses on how college students form expectations about various major-specific outcomes. For this purpose, I collect a panel data set of Northwestern University undergraduates that contains their subjective expectations about major-specific outcomes. Although students tend to be overconfident about their future academic performance, they revised their expectations in expected ways. The updating process is found to be consistent with a Bayesian learning model. I show that learning plays a role in the decision to switch majors, and that major-switchers respond to information from ...
Staff Reports , Paper 378

Can subjective expectations data be used in choice models? Evidence on cognitive biases

A pervasive concern with the use of subjective data in choice models is that the data are biased and endogenous. This paper examines the extent to which cognitive biases plague subjective data, specifically addressing 1) whether cognitive dissonance affects the reporting of beliefs, and 2) whether individuals exert sufficient mental effort when probed about their subjective beliefs. For this purpose, I collect a unique panel data set of Northwestern University undergraduates that contains their subjective expectations about outcomes specific to different majors in their choice set. I do not ...
Staff Reports , Paper 454

Disagreement and learning in a dynamic contracting model

We present a dynamic contracting model in which the principal and the agent disagree about the resolution of uncertainty, and we illustrate the contract design in an application with Bayesian learning. The disagreement creates gains from trade that the principal realizes by transferring payment to states that the agent considers relatively more likely, a shift that changes incentives. In our dynamic setting, the interaction between incentive provision and learning creates an intertemporal source of ?disagreement risk? that alters optimal risk sharing. An endogenous regime shift between ...
Staff Reports , Paper 269

Double majors: one for me, one for the parents?

At least a quarter of college students in the United States graduate with more than one undergraduate major. This paper investigates how students decide on the composition of their paired majors? In other words, whether the majors chosen are substitutes or complements. Since students use both their preferences and their expectations about major-specific outcomes when choosing their majors, I collect innovative data on subjective expectations, drawn from a sample of Northwestern University sophomores. Despite showing substantial heterogeneity in beliefs, the students seem aware of differences ...
Staff Reports , Paper 478

Rational inattention in hiring decisions

We provide an information-based theory of matching efficiency fluctuations. Rationally inattentive firms have limited capacity to process information and cannot perfectly identify suitable applicants. During recessions, higher losses from hiring unsuitable workers cause firms to be more selective in hiring. When firms cannot obtain sufficient information about applicants, they err on the side of caution and accept fewer applicants to minimize losses from hiring unsuitable workers. Pro-cyclical acceptance rates drive a wedge between meeting and hiring rates, explaining fluctuations in matching ...
Staff Reports , Paper 878

Costly information, planning complementarities and the Phillips Curve

Standard sticky information pricing models successfully capture the sluggish movement of aggregate prices in response to monetary policy shocks but fail at matching the magnitude and frequency of price changes at the micro level. This paper shows that in a setting where firms choose when to acquire costly information about different types of shocks, strategic complementarities in pricing generate planning complementarities. This results in firms optimally updating their information about monetary policy shocks less frequently than about idiosyncratic shocks. When calibrated to match frequent ...
Staff Reports , Paper 698

Working Paper
Rationally Inattentive Consumer: An Experiment

This paper presents a laboratory experiment that directly tests the theoretical predictions of consumption choices under rational inattention. Subjects are asked to select consumption when income is random. They can optimally decide to reduce uncertainty about income by acquiring signals about it. The informativeness of the signals directly relates to the cognitive effort required to process the information. We find that subjects? behavior is largely in line with the predictions of the theory: 1) Subjects optimally make stochastic consumption choices; 2) They respond to incentives and changes ...
Working Papers , Paper 1813

Working Paper
Rationally Inattentive Savers and Monetary Policy Changes: A Laboratory Experiment

We present a model where rationally inattentive agents decide how much to save while imperfectly tracking interest rate changes. Suitable assumptions on agents’ preferences and interest rate distribution allow us to derive testable theoretical predictions and their implications for monetary policy. We probe these predictions using a laboratory experiment with induced inattention that closely reflects the theoretical assumptions. We find that, empirically, the laboratory data corroborates the results of the theoretical model. In particular, we show that experimental subjects respond to ...
Working Papers , Paper 1915

Working Paper
Overconfidence, Subjective Perception, and Pricing Behavior

We study the implications of overconfidence for price setting in a monopolistic competition setup with incomplete information. Our price-setters overestimate their abilities to infer aggregate shocks from private signals. The fraction of uninformed firms is endogenous; firms can obtain information by paying a fixed cost. We find two results: (1) overconfident firms are less inclined to acquire information, and (2) prices might exhibit excess volatility driven by nonfundamental noise. We explore the empirical predictions of our model for idiosyncratic price volatility.
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2017-14

Working Paper
Optimal Long-Term Contracting with Learning

We introduce uncertainty into Holmstrom and Milgrom (1987) to study optimal long-term contracting with learning. In a dynamic relationship, the agent's shirking not only reduces current performance but also increases the agent's information rent due to the persistent belief manipulation effect. We characterize the optimal contract using the dynamic programming technique in which information rent is the unique state variable. In the optimal contract, the optimal effort is front-loaded and decreases stochastically over time. Furthermore, the optimal contract exhibits an option-like feature in ...
FRB Atlanta Working Paper , Paper 2016-10


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