The empirical content of models with multiple equilibria in economies with social interactions
We study a general class of models with social interactions that might display multiple equilibria. We propose an estimation procedure for these models and evaluate its efficiency and computational feasibility relative to different approaches taken to the curse of dimensionality implied by the multiplicity. Using data on smoking among teenagers, we implement the proposed estimation procedure to understand how group interactions affect health-related choices. We find that interaction effects are strong both at the school level and at the smaller friends-network level. Multiplicity of ...
An experimental investigation of why individuals conform
Social interdependence is believed to play an important role in how people make individual choices. This paper presents a simple model constructed on the premise that people are motivated by their own payoff as well as by how their actions compare with those of other people in their reference group. I show that conformity of actions may arise either from learning about the norm (social learning), or from adhering to the norm because of image-related concerns (social influence). To disentangle the two empirically, I use the fact that image-related concerns can be present only if actions are ...
Estimating a structural model of herd behavior in financial markets
We develop a new methodology for estimating the importance of herd behavior in financial markets. Specifically, we build a structural model of informational herding that can be estimated with financial transaction data. In the model, rational herding arises because of information-event uncertainty. We estimate the model using 1995 stock market data for Ashland Inc., a company listed on the New York Stock Exchange. Herding occurs often and is particularly pervasive on certain days. In an information-event day, on average, 2 percent (4 percent) of informed traders herd-buy (sell). In 7 percent ...
Selection into financial literacy programs: evidence from a field study
As financial literacy has been shown to correlate with good financial decisions, policymakers promote educational programs to improve individuals? financial decisions. But who selects into educational programs and who acquires information about personal finance? This paper, in a field study with more than 870 individuals, offers individuals free information about their credit reports (and credit scores). About 55 percent choose to participate in this small counseling program. To test whether those who self-select to acquire information about personal finance differ from those who do not on ...
Implications of behavioral economics for monetary policy
Presentation at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston Conference: ?Implications of Behavioral Economics for Economic Policy?, Boston, Massachusetts, September 28, 2007
Bayesian social learning, conformity, and stubbornness: evidence from the AP top 25
The recent nonexperimental literature on social learning focuses on showing that observational learning exists, that is, individuals do indeed draw inferences by observing the actions of others. We take this literature a step further by analyzing whether individuals are Bayesian social learners. We use data from the Associated Press (AP) U.S. College Football Poll, a weekly subjective ranking of the top twenty-five teams. The voters' aggregate rankings are available each week prior to when voters have to update their individual rankings, so voters can potentially learn from their peers. We ...
Is economics coursework, or majoring in economics, associated with different civic behaviors?
Studies regularly link levels of educational attainment to civic behavior and attitudes, but only a few investigate the role played by specific coursework. Using data collected from students who attended one of four public universities in our study, we investigate the relationship between economics coursework and civic behavior after graduation. Drawing from large samples of students in economics, business, or general majors, we compare responses across the three groups and by the number of undergraduate economics courses completed. We find that undergraduate coursework in economics is ...
A survey of economic theories and field evidence on pro-social behavior
In recent years, a large number of economic theories have evolved to explain people?s pro-social behavior and the variation in their respective behavior. This paper surveys economic theories on pro-social behavior and presents evidence ? mainly from the field ? testing these theories. In addition, the survey emphasizes that institutional environment might significantly interact with pro-social preferences and explain some of the variation in observed pro-social behavior.
Social and private learning with endogenous decision timing
Firms often face choices about when to upgrade and what to upgrade to. We discuss this in the context of upgrading to a new technology (for example, a new computer system), but it applies equally to the upgrading of processes (for example, a new organizational structure) or to individual choices (for example, buying a new car). This paper uses an experimental approach to determine how people address such problems, with a particular focus on the impact of information flows. Specifically, subjects face a multi-round decision, choosing when (if ever) to upgrade from the status quo to either a ...