Discussion Papers

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Discussion Paper No. 310
January 14, 2022

Experimenting with Purchase History Based Price Discrimination: a Comment

Authors:
Tolksdorf, Michel (TU Berlin)
Abstract:
Brokesova, Deck and Peliova [Int. J. Ind. Organ. 37 (2014) 229-237] have shown that comparative static results from two-period behavior-based pricing models hold in laboratory experiments, but they observed significant differences from point predictions. We report findings in conformity with these point predictions throughout a uniform pricing benchmark, a replication of Brokesova, Deck and Peliova’s behavior-based pricing treatment and a follow-up experiment. Reference dependence seems to shift participants’ second-period pricing behavior upwards. A post hoc analysis shows that considering myopic consumers instead of strategic consumers explains a downward shift of first-period prices and rationalizes the findings of Brokesova, Deck and Peliova. Volatile price levels affect price-based welfare measures such as sellers’ profits and customers’ total costs. We show that transport costs serve as a robust welfare measure, alleviating the impact of distorted prices. These findings are relevant for the design of experiments and when assessing the efficiency of experimental markets.
Keywords:
behavior-based price discrimination; pricing experiment
JEL-Classification:
D43; L13
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Discussion Paper No. 309
January 3, 2022

Can Schools Change Religious Attitudes? Evidence from German State Reforms of Compulsory Religious Education

Authors:
Arold, Benjamin W. (ifo Institute and LMU Munich)
Woessmann, Ludger (ifo Institute and LMU Munich)
Zierow, Larissa (ifo Institute and LMU Munich)
Abstract:
We study whether compulsory religious education in schools affects students’ religiosity as adults. We exploit the staggered termination of compulsory religious education across German states in models with state and cohort fixed effects. Using three different datasets, we find that abolishing compulsory religious education significantly reduced religiosity of affected students in adulthood. It also reduced the religious actions of personal prayer, church-going, and church membership. Beyond religious attitudes, the reform led to more equalized gender roles, fewer marriages and children, and higher labor-market participation and earnings. The reform did not affect ethical and political values or non-religious school outcomes.
Keywords:
religious education; religiosity; school reforms
JEL-Classification:
Z12; I28; H75
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Discussion Paper No. 308
December 27, 2021

The Bargaining Trap

Authors:
Schweighofer-Kodritsch, Sebastian (HU Berlin)
Abstract:
I revisit the Rubinstein (1982) model for the classic problem of price hag- gling and show that bargaining can become a “trap,” where equilibrium leaves one party strictly worse off than if no transaction took place (e.g., the equilibrium price exceeds a buyer’s valuation). This arises when one party is impatient about capturing zero surplus (e.g., Rubinstein’s example of fixed bargaining costs). Augmenting the protocol with unilateral exit options for responding bargainers generally removes the trap.
Keywords:
alternating offers; bargaining; time preferences; haggling costs; outside options
JEL-Classification:
C78; D03; D74
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Discussion Paper No. 307
December 22, 2021

Strategy-Proof and Envy-Free Random Assignment

Authors:
Basteck, Christian (WZB Berlin)
Ehlers, Lars (Université de Montréal)
Abstract:
We study the random assignment of indivisible objects among a set of agents with strict preferences. We show that there exists no mechanism which is unanimous, strategy-proof and envy-free. Weakening the first requirement to q-unanimity – i.e., when every agent ranks a different object at the top, then each agent shall receive his most-preferred object with probability of at least q – we show that a mechanism satisfying strategy-proofness, envy-freeness and ex-post weak non-wastefulness can be q-unanimous only for q ≤ n2 (where n is the number of agents). To demonstrate that this bound is tight, we introduce a new mechanism, Random-Dictatorship-cum-Equal-Division (RDcED), and show that it achieves this maximal bound when all objects are acceptable. In addition, for three agents, RDcED is characterized by the first three properties and ex-post weak efficiency. If objects may be unacceptable, strategy-proofness and envy-freeness are jointly incompatible even with ex-post weak non-wastefulness.
Keywords:
random assignment; strategy-proofness; envy-freeness; q-unanimity
JEL-Classification:
D63; D70
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Discussion Paper No. 306
December 1, 2021

Self-Persuasion: Evidence from Field Experiments at International Debating Competitions

Authors:
Schwardmann, Peter (Carnegie Mellon University)
Tripodi, Egon (University of Essex and JILAEE)
van der Weele, Jol J. (University of Amsterdam and Tinbergen Institute)
Abstract:
Laboratory evidence shows that when people have to argue for a given position, they persuade themselves about the position’s factual and moral superiority. Such self-persuasion limits the potential of communication to resolve conflict and reduce polarization. We test for this phenomenon in a field setting, at international debating competitions that randomly assign experienced and motivated debaters to argue one side of a topical motion. We find self-persuasion in factual beliefs and confidence in one’s position. Effect sizes are smaller than in the laboratory, but robust to a one-hour exchange of arguments and a ten-fold increase in incentives for accuracy.
Keywords:
JEL-Classification:
C93; D72; D83; D91
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Discussion Paper No. 305
December 1, 2021

Cursed Consumers and the Effectiveness of Consumer Protection Policies

Authors:
Ispano, Alessandro (CY Cergy Paris Université, CNRS and THEMA)
Schwardmann, Peter (LMU Munich)
Abstract:
We model firms’ quality disclosure and pricing in the presence of cursed consumers, who fail to be sufficiently skeptical about undisclosed quality. We show that cursed consumers are exploited in duopoly markets if firms are vertically differentiated, if there are few cursed consumers, and if average product quality is high. Three common consumer protection policies that work under monopoly, i.e. mandatory disclosure, third party disclosure and consumer education, may all increase exploitation and decrease welfare. Even where these policies improve overall welfare, they often lead to a reduction in consumer surplus. We show that our conclusions hold in extensions with endogenous quality choice and horizontal differentiation.
Keywords:
naive; cursed; disclosure; consumer protection; labeling; competition
JEL-Classification:
C72; D03; D82; D83
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Discussion Paper No. 304
December 1, 2021

Spin Doctors: An Experiment on Vague Disclosure

Authors:
Deversi, Marvin (LMU Munich)
Ispano, Alessandro (CY Cergy Paris Université, CNRS and THEMA)
Schwardmann, Peter (LMU Munich)
Abstract:
Unfavorable news are often delivered under the disguise of vagueness. Our theory-driven laboratory experiment investigates this strategic use of vagueness in voluntary disclosure and asks whether there is scope for policy to improve information transmission. We find that vagueness is profitably deployed by senders to fool those receivers that lack strategic sophistication. Imposing precise disclosure leads to more easily interpretable messages, but results in fewer sender types disclosing at all. Since non- disclosure also systematically misleads naive receivers, the welfare implications of imposing precision are not obvious. However, our model and experiment show that information transmission and the welfare of naive receivers are improved by policies that impose precision. Our results speak to the rules governing firms’ disclosure of quality-relevant information, the disclosure of research findings, and testimonies in a court of law.
Keywords:
communication; naïveté; flexibility; regulation
JEL-Classification:
D82; D83; C72; C92; L15; D04
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Discussion Paper No. 303
November 29, 2021

Aiding Applicants: Leveling the Playing Field within the Immediate Acceptance Mechanism

Authors:
Basteck, Christian (WZB Berlin)
Mantovani, Marco (University of Milan-Bicocca)
Abstract:
In school choice problems, the widely used manipulable Immediate Acceptance mechanism (IA) disadvantages unsophisticated applicants, but may ex-ante Pareto dominate any strategy-proof alternative. In these cases, it may be preferable to aid applicants within IA, rather than to abandon it. In a laboratory experiment, we first document a substantial gap in strategy choices and outcomes between subjects of higher and lower cognitive ability under IA. We then test whether disclosing information on past applications levels the playing field. The treatment is effective in partially reducing the gap between applicants of above- and below-median cognitive ability and in curbing ability segregation across schools, but may leave the least able applicants further behind.
Keywords:
laboratory experiment; school choice; immediate acceptance; strategy-proofness; cognitive ability; mechanism design
JEL-Classification:
C78; C91; D82; I24
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Discussion Paper No. 302
November 29, 2021

The Effects of an Increase in the Retirement Age on Health – Evidence from Administrative Data

Authors:
Barschkett, Mara (DIW Berlin and FU Berlin)
Geyer, Johannes (DIW Berlin and Netspar)
Haan, Peter (DIW Berlin, FU Berlin and Netspar)
Hammerschmid, Anna (DIW Berlin)
Abstract:
This study analyzes the causal effect of an increase in the retirement age on health. We exploit a sizable cohort-specific pension reform for women using two complementary empirical approaches – a Regression Discontinuity Design and a Difference-in-Differences approach. The analysis is based on official records covering all individuals insured by the public health system in Germany and including all certified diagnoses by practitioners. This enables us to gain a detailed understanding of the multi-dimensionality in these health effects. The empirical findings reflect the multi-dimensionality but allow for deriving two broader conclusions. We provide evidence that the increase in the retirement age negatively affects health outcomes as the prevalence of several diagnoses, e.g., mental health, musculoskeletal diseases, and obesity, increases. In contrast, we do not find support for an improvement in health related to a prolonged working life since there is no significant evidence for a reduction in the prevalence of any health outcome we consider. These findings hold for both identifica- tion strategies, are robust to sensitivity checks, and do not change when correcting for multiple hypothesis testing.
Keywords:
Germany; retirement; pension reform; health, ICD-10, regression discontinuity design, difference-in-differences
JEL-Classification:
I10; I12; I18; J14; J18; J26
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Discussion Paper No. 301
November 19, 2021

Optimal Non-Linear Pricing with Data-Sensitive Consumers

Authors:
Krähmer, Daniel (University of Bonn)
Strausz, Roland (HU Berlin)
Abstract:
We introduce consumers with intrinsic privacy preferences into the monopolistic non-linear pricing model. Next to classical consumers, there is a share of data-sensitive consumers who incur a privacy cost if their purchase reveals information to the monopolist. The monopolist discriminates between privacy types using privacy mechanisms which consist of a direct mechanism and a privacy option, targeting, respectively, classical and data-sensitive consumers. We show that a privacy mechanism is optimal if privacy costs are large and that it yields classical consumers a higher utility than data-sensitive consumers with the same valuation. If, by contrast, privacy preferences are public information, data-sensitive consumers with a low valuation obtain a strictly higher utility than classical consumers. With public privacy preferences, data-sensitive consumers and the monopolist are better off, whereas classical consumers are worse off. Our results are relevant for policy measures that target the data-awareness of consumers, such as the European GDPR.
Keywords:
optimal non-linear pricing; privacy; monopolistic screening
JEL-Classification:
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