A Fast Literature Search Engine based on top-quality journals, by Dr. Mingze Gao.


  • I study the economic value of obesity—a status symbol in poor countries associated with raised health risks. Randomizing decision-makers in Kampala, Uganda to view weight-manipulated portraits, I find that obesity is perceived as a reliable signal of wealth but not of beauty or health. Thus, leveraging a real-stakes experiment involving professional loan officers, I show that being obese facilitates access to credit. The large obesity premium, comparable to raising borrower self-reported earnings by over 60 percent, is driven by asymmetric information and drops significantly when providing more financial information. Notably, obesity benefits and wealth-signaling value are commonly overestimated, suggesting market distortions.

  • Choice screen auctions have been recently deployed in 31 European countries, allowing consumers to choose their preferred search engine on Google's Android platform instead of being automatically defaulted to Google's own search engine. I show that a seemingly minor detail in the design of these auctions—whether they are conducted on a "per appearance" or a "per install" basis—plays a major role in the mix and characteristics of auction winners and, consequently, in their expected market share. Furthermore, per install auctions distort search engines' incentives. Empirical evidence from Android choice screen auctions conducted in 2020 is consistent with my theoretical results.

  • I examine the effects of oligopsony power on allocative efficiency and income redistribution by studying a size regulation in the Chinese tobacco industry that led to ownership consolidation. I show that separate identification of input price markdowns, goods price markups, and productivity is challenging when a subset of inputs is nonsubstitutable, which often holds for materials, and construct and estimate a model to overcome this challenge. I find that the regulation increased input price markdowns by 37 percent on average. This increase in oligopsony power led to a decline in allocative efficiency and redistributed income away from rural households.

  • The reversal interest rate is the rate at which accommodative monetary policy reverses and becomes contractionary for lending. We theoretically demonstrate its existence in a macroeconomic model featuring imperfectly competitive banks that face financial frictions. When interest rates are cut too low, further monetary stimulus cuts into banks' profit margins, depressing their net worth and curtailing their credit supply. Similarly, when interest rates are low for too long, the persistent drag on bank profitability eventually outweighs banks' initial capital gains, also stifling credit supply. We quantify the importance of this mechanism within a calibrated New Keynesian model.

  • Bureaucrats implement policy. How important are they for a state's productivity? And do the trade-offs between policies depend on their effectiveness? Using data on 16 million public purchases in Russia, we show that 39 percent of the variation in prices paid for narrowly defined items is due to the individual bureaucrats and organizations who manage procurement. Low-price buyers also display higher spending quality. Theory suggests that such differences in effectiveness can be pivotal for policy design. To illustrate, we show that a common one—bid preferences for domestic suppliers—substantially improves procurement performance, but only when implemented by ineffective bureaucrats.

  • We study crises characterized by large adjustments of aggregate consumption through their microlevel patterns. We document the cross-sectional patterns of consumption adjustment across the income distribution and find large adjustments for top-income households, who exhibit consumption-income elasticities similar to or larger than the average. We construct a heterogeneous-agent open economy model of consumption under income fluctuations and show that the data patterns are largely consistent with theories that attribute the dynamics of aggregate consumption to changes in aggregate permanent income. We also discuss our findings' implications for theories based on the tightening of households' borrowing constraints and analyze policy implications.

  • We examine international regulatory agreements that are negotiated under lobbying pressures from producer groups. The way in which lobbying influences the cooperative setting of regulatory policies, as well as the welfare impacts of international agreements, depend crucially on whether the interests of producers in different countries are aligned or in conflict. The former situation tends to occur for product standards, while the latter tends to occur for process standards. We find that, if producer lobbies are strong enough, agreements on product standards lead to excessive deregulation and decrease welfare, while agreements on process standards tighten regulations and enhance welfare.

  • Suarez Serrato and Zidar (2016) identify state corporate tax incidence in a spatial equilibrium model with imperfectly mobile firms. Their identification argument rests on comparative statics omitting a channel implied by their model: the link between common determinants of a location's attractiveness and the average idiosyncratic productivity of firms choosing that location. This compositional margin causes the labor demand elasticity to be independent from the product demand elasticity, impeding the identification of incidence from the four estimated reduced-form effects. Assigning consensual values to the unidentified parameters, we find that the incidence share borne by firm owners is closer to 25 percent than 40 percent.

  • How does identity influence economic behavior in the labor market? I investigate this question in rural India, focusing on the effect of caste identity on job-specific labor supply. In a field experiment, laborers choose whether to take up various job offers, which differ in associations with specific castes. Workers are less willing to accept offers that are linked to castes other than their own, especially when those castes rank lower in the social hierarchy. Workers forgo large payments to avoid job offers that conflict with their caste identity, even when these decisions are made in private.

  • I give conditions under which changes in private spending are accommodated in general equilibrium exactly like changes in aggregate fiscal expenditure. Under such demand equivalence, researchers can use time series evidence on fiscal multipliers to recover the general equilibrium "missing intercept" of shocks to private spending identified in the cross section. Through the lens of this theory, time series estimates of a fiscal multiplier around one suggest a missing intercept close to zero—an observation that I illustrate with an application to the 2008 tax rebates. I also discuss the robustness of this aggregation approach to plausible violations of demand equivalence.

Last update from database: 12/8/23, 12:00 AM (AEDT)


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