Joint with Martijn van den Assem and Dennie van Dolder
Berger and Pope (2011) show that being slightly behind increases the likelihood of winning in professional and collegiate basketball. We extend their analysis to large samples of Australian football, American football, and rugby matches, but find no evidence of such an effect for these three sports. When we revisit the phenomenon for basketball, we only find supportive evidence for National Basketball Association (NBA) matches from the period analyzed in Berger and Pope. There is no significant effect for NBA matches from outside this sample period, for collegiate matches, or for matches from the Women's NBA. High-powered meta-analyses across the different sports and competitions do not reject the null hypothesis of no effect of being slightly behind on winning. The confidence intervals suggest that the true effect, if existent at all, is likely relatively small.
Joint with Rogier Potter van Loon, Martijn van den Assem and Dennie van Dolder
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization
This paper examines how within-match variation in incentives affects the performance of darts players. The game of darts offers an attractive naturally occurring research setting, because performance can be observed at the individual level and without obscuring effects of risk considerations and behavior of others. We analyze four data sets covering a total of 29,381 darts matches of professional, amateur, and youth players. We find that amateur and youth players display a sizable performance decrease at decisive moments. Professional players appear less susceptible of such choking under pressure. Our results speak to a growing literature on the limits of increasing incentives as a recipe for better performance.
Joint with Matthew Jordan, Nicholas Adolph and Shane Frederick
R&R at The Economic Journal
Pharmaceutical pricing in the United States varies, and patients often do not know the out-of-pocket costs of their medications until arriving at the pharmacy to retrieve their prescriptions. In recent years, these pharmacy-counter interactions have seen the introduction of copay cards: manufacturer-issued coupons that are sent directly to pharmacies, physicians, and patients to reduce patient out-of-pocket costs. We exploit a unique data set containing transactions from ∼85 percent of all US pharmacies to estimate the causal effect of copay card discounts on pick-up rates of life-saving medications. Holding actual final price constant, we find that the presence of copay cards increases pick-up rates, providing evidence that discounts shift the demand curve itself.
Joint with Georgios Melios
Do mass mobilizations bring about social change? Prior research provides mixed findings on whether large-scale collective action helps protesters further their cause. This paper adds new evidence to this debate by investigating the causal impact of racial injustice protests on the 2020 presidential election. Following the death of G. P. Floyd Jr. on 25 May 2020, a series of Black Lives Matter protests erupted across the US. Using cross-county variation in rainfall as an exogenous source of variation in protests, we document a marked shift in support for the Democratic candidate in counties that experienced more protesting activity. As a consequence, BLM protests might have tilted the election in favor of the democratic party. We additionally document that BLM protests did not affect the overall turnout rate, which suggests that the increase in Democratic support primarily resulted from a progressive shift among undecided voters.
Joint with Pavel Atanasov and Jason Dana
Evidence of gender discrimination has been found in a variety of contexts, but identifying the mechanism of discrimination is notoriously difficult. Discriminatory behavior could reflect a preference for treating one group differently than another, or it could reflect beliefs about average group differences. We identify a preference for costly gender homophily in a field setting that allows for remarkably clean identification of tastes versus beliefs: the One Bid game on the American TV game show The Price Is Right. In the One Bid game, contestants bid sequentially in an attempt to come closest to the retail price of an item without exceeding it. The last bidder has a dominant ``cutoff'' strategy of bidding $1 more than the bidder they believe is currently in the lead, regardless of the skills or characteristics of that person. Cutoff bids are profitable for the last bidder, but leave the targeted contestant almost no chance to win. Our analysis of 11,016 One Bid games shows that last bidders of both genders are significantly more likely to cut off perceived leaders when they are of the opposite gender. We find no evidence that contestants hold incorrect gender stereotypes about skill. Our findings suggest that people display own-gender favoritism that cannot be explained by recourse to any set of beliefs and that outweigh substantial monetary stakes for being impartial.
Joint with Georgios Melios
A large literature in public economics seeks to answer whether government activity crowds out charitable donations. The evidence remains mixed, however, and prior estimates range from large crowding out effects to small crowding in effects. To resolve this inconsistency, we consider that people base their donation decisions not only on government spending per se, but also on their support of the government. Using US tax return data, we find that support for the incumbent president crowds out charitable donations for partisans on both sides of the spectrum. The reduction in donations is consistent with partisans attributing greater problem-solving responsibilities to in-party governments. Taken together, our results demonstrate the importance of non-monetary considerations for crowding out, and suggest a possible mechanism to square the inconsistent empirical results of previous studies.
Joint with Gal Zauberman
Prior research finds that rich people are on average happier than poor people. While this finding is of direct importance to policy makers, we argue that this average effect hides as much as it reveals. In particular, it is uninformative about how well-being is distributed within income groups or how income relates to the relative preponderance of extreme unhappiness (misery) and extreme happiness (bliss). Using Gallup data for more than two million US survey respondents, we show that well-being inequality decreases markedly with income, where rich people are more similar to each other in their well-being than poor people. We further show that both the level-enhancing effect and the variance-reducing effect of income are largely the result of a declining share of misery along the income distribution, whereas the share of bliss remains relatively constant.
Joint with Dennie van Dolder, Martijn van den Assem, and Jason Dana
We examine high-stakes strategic choice using more than 40 years of data from the American TV game show "The Price Is Right". In every episode, contestants play the "Showcase Showdown", a sequential game of perfect information for which the optimal strategy can be found through backward induction. We find that contestants systematically deviate from the subgame perfect Nash equilibrium. These departures from optimality are well described by an agent quantal response model with limited foresight, where a sizable proportion of the contestants myopically consider the next stage of the game only. In line with learning, the quality of contestants' choices improves over the course of our sample period.
Joint with Georgios Melios
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