Economics, Department of

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Generalized Random Coefficients With Equivalence Scale Applications

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

We propose a generalization of random coefficients models, in which the regression model is an unknown function of a vector of regressors, each of which is multiplied by an unobserved error. We also investigate a more restrictive model which is additive (or additive with interactions) in unknown functions of each regressor multiplied by its error. We show nonparametric identification of these models. In addition to providing a natural generalization of random coefficients, we provide economic motivations for the model based on demand system estimation. In these applications, the random coefficients can be interpreted as random utility parameters that take the form of Engel scales or Barten scales, which in the past were estimated as deterministic preference heterogeneity or household technology parameters. We apply these results to consumer surplus and related welfare calculations.

Document type: 
Report

Party Nomination Procedures and Quality of Government

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

This paper explores empirically the relation between party's procedures to nominate candidates, such as primaries, and quality of government. Using a panel data of Latin America countries, I find robust evidence that the quality of government is higher during the mandate of primary-nominated presidents. The empirical strategy exploits within country variation and controls for relevant covariates at country and party level. Using an instrumental variable approach with determinants of primary adoption produces similar results. The findings are consistent with primaries increasing incentives among candidates to improve policy design, and suggest that party institutions matter for governance.

Document type: 
Report

Local Spending, Transfers and Costly Tax Collection

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

This paper studies the effect of costly taxation on the fiscal response of local governments to intergovernmental transfers. Using a panel dataset of Peruvian municipalities, I find robust evidence that central government's grants have a greater stimulatory effect in municipalities facing higher tax collection costs. The results are consistent with costly taxation partially explaining the flypaper effect.

Document type: 
Report

Mining, Pollution and Agricultural Productivity: Evidence from Ghana

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

Most modern mines in the developing world are located in rural areas, where agriculture is the main source of livelihood. This creates the potential of negative spillovers to farmers through competition for key inputs (such as land) and environmental pollution. To explore this issue, we examine the case of gold mining in Ghana. Through the estimation of an agricultural production function using household level data, we find that mining has reduced agricultural productivity by almost 40%. This result is driven by polluting mines, not by input availability. Because of its crowding out effects on agriculture, we find that the mining activity is associated with an increase in poverty, child malnutrition and respiratory diseases. A simple cost-benefit analysis shows that the fiscal contribution of mining would not have been enough to compensate affected populations.

Document type: 
Report

Model Validation and Learning

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

This paper studies adaptive learning with multiple models. An agent operating in a self-referential environment is aware of potential model misspecification, and tries to detect it, in real-time, using an econometric specification test. If the current model passes the test, it is used to construct an optimal policy. If it fails the test, a new model is selected from a fixed set of models. As the rate of coefficient updating decreases, one model becomes dominant, and is used 'almost always'. Dominant models can be characterized using the tools of large deviations theory. The analysis is applied to Sargent's (1999) Phillips Curve model.

Document type: 
Report

Heterogenous Beliefs and Tests of Present Value Models

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

This paper develops a dynamic asset pricing model with persistent heterogeneous beliefs. The model features competitive traders who receive idiosyncratic signals about an underlying fundamentals process. We adapt Futia’s (1981) frequency domain methods to derive conditions on the fundamentals that guarantee noninvertibility of the mapping between observed market data and the underlying shocks to agents’ information sets. When these conditions are satisfied, agents must ‘forecast the forecasts of others’. The additional dynamics of the heterogeneous beliefs equilibrium can account for observed violations of variance bounds, predictability of excess returns, and rejections of cross-equation restrictions.

Document type: 
Report

A Behavioral Defense of Rational Expectations

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

This paper studies decision making by agents who value optimism, but are unsure of their environment. As in Brunnermeier and Parker (2005), an agent’s optimism is assumed to be tempered by the decision costs it imposes. As in Hansen and Sargent (2008), an agent’s uncertainty about his environment leads him to formulate ‘robust’ decision rules. It is shown that when combined, these two considerations can lead agents to adhere to the Rational Expectations Hypothesis. Rather than being the outcome of the sophisticated statistical calculations of an impassive expected utility maximizer, Rational Expectations can instead be viewed as a useful approximation in environments where agents struggle to strike a balance between doubt and hope.

Document type: 
Report

Efficient Inference with Poor Instruments: a General Framework

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

We consider a general framework where weaker patterns of identifcation may arise: typically, the data generating process is allowed to depend on the sample size. However, contrary to what is usually done in the literature on weak identification, we do not give up the efficiency goal of statistical inference: even fragile information should be processed optimally for the purpose of both efficient estimation and powerful testing. Our main contribution is actually to consider that several patterns of identification may arise simultaneously. This heterogeneity of identification schemes paves the way for the device of optimal strategies for inferential use of information of poor quality. More precisely, we focus on a case where asymptotic efficiency of estimators is well-defined through the variance of asymptotically normal distributions. Standard efficient estimation procedures still hold, albeit with rates of convergence slower than usual. We stress that these are feasible without requiring the prior knowledge of the identification schemes.

Document type: 
Report

Efficient Minimum Distance Estimation with Multiple Rates of Convergence

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

This paper extends the asymptotic theory of GMM inference to allow sample counterparts of the estimating equations to converge at (multiple) rates, different from the usual square-root of the sample size. In this setting, we provide consistent estimation of the structural parameters. In addition, we define a convenient rotation in the parameter space (or reparametrization) to disentangle the different rates of convergence. More precisely, we identify special linear combinations of the structural parameters associated with a specific rate of convergence. Finally, we demonstrate the validity of usual inference procedures, like the overidentification test and Wald test, with standard formulas. It is important to stress that both estimation and testing work without requiring the knowledge of the various rates. However, the assessment of these rates is crucial for (asymptotic) power considerations. Possible applications include econometric problems with two dimensions of asymptotics, due to trimming, tail estimation, infill asymptotic, social interactions, kernel smoothing or any kind of regularization.

Document type: 
Report

A Critique of Ng's Third-Best Theory

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
2012
Abstract: 

The theory of second best established that the effect on community welfare of any one policy change varies with the specific context in which that change occurs. In paper that has been frequently quoted to justify specific policies, Ng argues that fulfilling firstbest conditions piecemeal is an optimal policy under quite general conditions when neither full first nor second best optima are achievable. This paper first argues that Ng's conclusion does not follow from his own assumptions, which imply instead that the status quo should be maintained, whatever it might be. Next it gives one illustrative example showing how much damage can be caused by following Ng's advice. It then argues that when Ng's key assumption is replaced by one that is closer to the facts, there is no general a priori presumption for adopting any specific policy, including maintaining the status quo. The paper closes with some observations on the usefulness of welfare economics even when the full implications of second best theory are accepted.

Document type: 
Report