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Jel Classification:D81 

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Determinants of college major choice: identification using an information experiment

This paper studies the determinants of college major choice using an experimentally generated panel of beliefs, obtained by providing students with information on the true population distribution of various major-specific characteristics. Students logically revise their beliefs in response to the information, and their subjective beliefs about future major choice are associated with beliefs about their own earnings and ability. We estimate a rich model of college major choice using the panel of beliefs data. While expected earnings and perceived ability are a significant determinant of major ...
Staff Reports , Paper 500

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Anxiety and pro-cyclical risk taking with Bayesian agents

We provide a model that can explain empirically relevant variations in confidence and risk taking by combining horizon-dependent risk aversion (?anxiety?) and selective memory in a Bayesian intrapersonal game. In the time series, overconfidence is more prevalent when actual risk levels are high, while underconfidence occurs when risks are low. In the cross section, more anxious agents are more prone to biased confidence and their beliefs fluctuate more. This systematic variation in confidence levels can lead to objectively excessive risk taking by ?insiders? with the potential to amplify ...
Staff Reports , Paper 711

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Intended college attendance: evidence from an experiment on college returns and costs

Despite a robust college premium, college attendance rates in the United States have remained stagnant and exhibit a substantial socioeconomic gradient. We focus on information gaps?specifically, incomplete information about college benefits and costs?as a potential explanation for these patterns. For this purpose, we conduct an information experiment about college returns and costs embedded within a representative survey of U.S. household heads. We show that, at the baseline, perceptions of college costs and benefits are severely and systematically biased: 75 percent of our respondents ...
Staff Reports , Paper 739

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Barriers to household risk management: evidence from India

Financial engineering offers the potential to significantly reduce the consumption fluctuations faced by individuals, households, and firms. Yet much of this potential remains unfulfilled. This paper studies the adoption of an innovative rainfall insurance product designed to compensate low-income Indian farmers in the event of insufficient rainfall during the primary monsoon season. We first document relatively low adoption of this new risk management product: Only 5-10 percent of households purchase the insurance, even though they overwhelmingly cite rainfall variability as their most ...
Staff Reports , Paper 373

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Anxiety in the face of risk

We model an ?anxious? agent as one who is more risk averse with respect to imminent risks than with respect to distant risks. Based on a utility function that captures individual subjects? behavior in experiments, we provide a tractable theory relaxing the restriction of constant risk aversion across horizons and show that it generates rich implications. We first apply the model to insurance markets and explain the high premia for short-horizon insurance. Then, we show that costly delegated portfolio management, investment advice, and withdrawal fees emerge as endogenous features and ...
Staff Reports , Paper 610

Report
Risk Preferences at the Time of COVID-19: An Experiment with Professional Traders and Students

We study whether the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted risk preferences, comparing the results of experiments conducted before and during the outbreak. In each experiment, we elicit risk preferences from two sample groups: professional traders and undergraduate students. We find that, on average, risk preferences have remained constant for both pools of participants. Our results suggest that the increases in risk premia observed during the pandemic are not due to changes in risk appetite; rather, they are solely due to a change in beliefs by market participants. The findings of our paper support ...
Staff Reports , Paper 927

Working Paper
Should defaults be forgotten? Evidence from variation in removal of negative consumer credit information

Practically all industrialized economies restrict the length of time that credit bureaus can retain borrowers? negative credit information. There is, however, a large variation in the permitted retention times across countries. By exploiting a quasi-experimental variation in this retention time, we investigate what happens when negative information is deleted earlier from credit files. We find that the loss of information led banks to tighten their lending standards significantly as the expected retention time was diminished from on average three-and-a-half to three years exactly. ...
Working Papers , Paper 14-21

Working Paper
Extended Loan Terms and Auto Loan Default Risk

A salient feature of the $1.2 trillion auto-loan market is the extension of loan maturity terms in recentyears. Using a large, national sample of auto loans from the entire auto market, we find that the default rates on six- and seven-year loans are multiple times that of shorter five-year term loans. Most of the default risk difference is due to borrower risks associated with longer-term loans, as those longer-term auto borrowers are more credit and liquidity constrained. We also find borrowers’ loan-term choice to be endogenous and that the endogeneity bias is substantial in conventional ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-18

Working Paper
Rational Inattention via Ignorance Equivalence

We present a novel approach to finite Rational Inattention (RI) models basedon the ignorance equivalent, a fictitious action with state-dependent payoffsthat effectively summarizes the optimal learning and conditional choices. Theignorance equivalent allows us to recast the RI problem as a standard expectedutility maximization over an augmented choice set called the learning-proofmenu, yielding new insights regarding the behavioral implications of RI, inparticular as new actions are added to the menu. Our geometric approach isalso well suited to numerical methods, outperforming existing ...
Working Papers , Paper 20-24

Working Paper
Appraising Home Purchase Appraisals

Home appraisals are produced for millions of residential mortgage transactions each year, but appraised values are rarely below the purchase contract price: Some 30% of appraisals in our sample are exactly at the home price (with less than 10% of them below it). We lay out a basic theoretical framework to explain how appraisers? incentives within the institutional framework that governs mortgage lending lead to information loss in appraisals (that is, appraisals set equal to the contract price). Consistent with the theory, we observe a higher frequency of appraisal equal to contract price and ...
Working Papers , Paper 18-28

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