Behavioral Economics, Development Economics, Experimental Methods
I lie? We lie! Why? Experimental evidence on a dishonesty shift in groups, with Martin Kocher & Simeon Schudy, Management Science (2018), 64 (9): 3995-4008. Download paper
Communication in groups makes misreporting in the lab more acceptable.
Cash in hand and saving decisions, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (2021), 188: 1206-1220. Download paper SABE/IAREP/Elsevier Best PhD Student Paper 2018
The tangibility of cash does not influence savings deposits of Filipino microfinance clients.
Microfinance loan officers before and during Covid-19: Evidence from India, with Kristina Czura, Florian Englmaier & Hoa Ho. World Development (2022), 152: 105812. Download paper
Loan officers juggle many different tasks and it becomes more difficult during the first year of the pandemic.
The gender gap in mental well-being at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic: Evidence from the UK, with Ben Etheridge, European Economic Review, (2022), 145: 104114. Download paper
Mental well-being of women declined more than men’s in April 2020, which appears mostly related to social factors.
Microcredit emerged as a product innovation from traditional credit design, and allowed lenders to capture a new segment of the market. However, its key building blocks have been criticized as not fit for purpose: Rigid repayment schedules are incompatible with fluctuating business income and lead to underinvestment. Group lending has been shown to induce excessive peer pressure. Recent evidence suggests that more flexible repayment benefits borrowers, but lenders fear diminished repayment morale.
We study repayment choices in rigid and flexible loan contracts with discretion in repayment timing. Using a lab-in-the-field experiment with microcredit borrowers in the Philippines, we identify moral hazard and quantify social pressure. Payoff maximization predicts low repayment in our rigid benchmark contract, and increased repayment with flexibility. Results show the opposite: Repayment in the rigid contract is high, and drops substantially under flexible repayment. Social pressure decreases. Our results are consistent with a strong social norm for repayment, which is weakened by introducing flexibility. This has implications for credit design: Observed high-repayment equilibria may be sustained by social norms, and may erode with the introduction of flexibility.
Cooperation and the Signaling Value of Incentives: An Experiment in a Company, with Marvin Deversi. New version in preparation.
Economists and management scholars have argued that the scope of incentives to increase cooperation in organizations is limited as their use signals the prevalence of free-riding among employees. This paper tests this hypothesis experimentally, using a sample of managers and employees (N=449) from a large company. We exogenously vary whether managers are informed about prevailing cooperation levels among employees before they can set incentives to promote cooperation. Comparing informed versus uninformed incentive choices, the data reveals strong positive effects of incentives that are unaffected by the hypothesized signaling effect. The absence of such effect seems related to the perception of managers’ intentions, a mitigating factor that has not been explored in the literature so far.
Selected Work in Progress
We theoretically and experimentally study how the introduction of a credit registry affects investment and repayment decisions of borrowers. Information sharing between lenders can affect repayment rates via two mechanisms, i) better screening by lenders and ii) an additional incentive for borrowers to repay. In contrast to most previous studies, we can exclude selection effect and potential changes in the borrower pool and cleanly identify the incentive effect of information sharing on borrowers. We conduct an information campaign with 6,000 microfinance clients to exogenously vary the knowledge of the credit registry and possible consequences for borrowers. Our design allows identifying both the effects on ex-ante moral hazard (project and effort choice) and ex-post moral hazard (repayment performance).
Can you spot a scam? Measuring and improving scam identification ability, with Jana Cahlíková, Lucy Kaaria, Elif Kubilay & Eva Raiber IPA Consumer Protection Research Inititative Pilot Grant. Pilot Summary