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Liu, Yiming (2019) ESSAYS IN BEHAVIORAL ECONOMICS. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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In Chapter 1, I develop a model in which a present-biased individual has access to a“psychological commitment device” in the form of self-set goals. These act as reference
points, pitting the motive of loss aversion against present bias. In line with the predictions, the results of our online experiment show that: 1) “Nudging” subjects to set narrow goals facilitates self-control when payments are delayed; 2) the assumption that goals work as reference points is supported by empirical evidence; 3) subjects who are more present-biased benefit more from goal-setting; 4) broad goal-setting does not
work when payments are delayed and it also causes procrastination; 5) surprisingly, but consistent with the model, narrow goal-setting always outperforms broad goal-setting regardless of the degree of present bias. However, the gap between the two bracketing methods shrinks as present bias decreases, suggesting that there exists a trade-off between
commitment and flexibility. In Chapter 2, using the well-known episode of the one-child policy in China (OCP), we provide field evidence for responsibility shifting through delegation. We compare the impact of the OCP on parents who experienced
OCP during 1979-1990 (Phase I) when local governmentswere the primary enforcer versus 1991-2015 (Phase II) when the enforcement of the policy was delegated to the civilians,by incentivizing them to report their neighbors’ violations of the policy. Our identification strategy exploits the exogeneity of the gender of first-born children and argues that parents whose first-born is a girl are more likely to violate the OCP because of traditional Chinese “at least one son” preference. Consistent with the predictions of responsibility-shifting theory, we find that parents who were more exposed to OCP in Phase II currently trust their neighbors less and, this effect is exacerbated for those parents whose first-born was a girl. The OCP exposure does not undermine trust in local governments. However, parents strongly exposed to OCP in Phase I currently trust their local governments less and, again, it is the parents whose first child was a girl who are more strongly impacted. The OCP exposure does not matter for trust in neighbors in that phase.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Liu, Yimingyil116@pitt.eduyil116
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairHuffman,
Committee MemberMylovanov,
Committee MemberWang,
Committee MemberKesten,
Date: 24 September 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 19 April 2019
Approval Date: 24 September 2019
Submission Date: 10 May 2019
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 133
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Economics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Behavioral Economics, Self-control, Goal-setting, Delegation, Responsibility-shifting
Date Deposited: 24 Sep 2019 19:22
Last Modified: 24 Sep 2019 19:22

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