A sender is about to come into possession of an object of heterogeneous quality. Prior to knowing that quality, she commits to a categorization. That is, she partitions the set of qualities intosubsets — some possibly singletons — and verifiably commits to reveal the element in which the quality belongs. The categoriesmust be monotone. Our main results fully describe the profit-maximizing categorizationfor any pair of priors over object quality held by sender and receiver. We apply these results to the design of educational grades.
We propose that India build up a sovereign fund, to be invested in portfolios of equity, bonds and other financial assets, and managed professionally as any fund would be managed, subject to certain constraints that we describe in this paper. The proposal to access Indian corporate value consists of two parts: I. A one-time directive that will require every publicly traded Indian company to issue new shares to the government, equal to some fraction (say 10–20%) of their outstanding shares in the mar- ket. II. An ongoing obligation to transfer some given fraction (again 10–20%) of every new share issue — whether in the form of an initial public offering or an expansion of the existing share base — to the India Fund.
(with Garance Genicot), September 2019. Forthcoming, Annual Review of Economics.
This paper reviews the literature on aspirations in economics, with a particular focus on socially determined aspirations. The core theory builds on two fundamental principles: (a) aspirations can serve to inspire, but still higher aspirations can lead to frustration and resentment; and (b) aspirations are largely determined by an individual’s social environment. We discuss the implications of this framework for the study of interpersonal inequality, social conflict, fertility choices, risk taking and goal-setting.
Summary. We present a theory of long run inequality and automation driven by capital accumulation rather than technical progress. At the heart of the theory is a singularity condition that guarantees automation in the production of automated technologies. If that condition is satisfied, the functional share of capital approaches 100% in the long run.
(with Youcheng Lou, Sahar Parsa, Duan Li and Shouyang Wang), May 2019, forthcoming, Journal of Economic Theory.
Summary. We study a financial market with asymmetric, multidimensional trader signals that have general correlation structure. Each of a continuum of traders belongs to one of finitely many “information groups.” There is a multidimensional aggregate signal for each group. Each trader observes an idiosyncratic signal about the fundamental, built from this group signal. Correlations across group signals are arbitrary. Several existing models serve as special cases, and new applications become possible. We establish existence and regularity of linear equilibrium, and demonstrate that the equilibrium price aggregates information perfectly as noise trade vanishes. Combines and extends results in Parsa and Ray (2017) and Lou, Li and Wang (2017), both mimeo. Online Appendix.
Summary. The stable set of von Neumann and Morgenstern can be extended to cover farsighted coalitional deviations, as proposed by Harsanyi (1974), and more recently reformulated by Ray and Vohra (2015). However, while coalitional deviations improve on existing outcomes, coalitions might do even better by moving elsewhere. Or other coalitions might intervene to impose their favored moves. We show that every farsighted stable set satisfying some reasonable, and easily verifiable, properties is unaffected by the imposition of this stringent maximality requirement.
Summary. Agents signal their type in a principal-agent model; the principal seeks to retain good agents. Types are signaled with some ambient noise. Agents can choose to add or remove additional noise at a cost. It is shown that monotone retention strategies, in which the principal keeps the agent if the signal crosses some threshold, are generically never equilibria. The main result identifies an equilibrium with a bounded retention zone, in which the principal is wary of both excessively good and excessively bad signals: she retains the agent if the signal is “moderate” and replaces him otherwise.
Summary. We provide systematic estimates of the excess female mortality faced by older unmarried women in developing regions. We place these estimates in the context of the missing women phenomenon. There are approximately 1.5 million missing women between the ages of 30 and 60 years old each year. We find that 35% of these missing women of adult age can be attributed to not being married. These estimates vary by region. India has the largest proportion of missing adult women who are without a husband, followed by the countries in East Africa. By contrast, China has almost no missing unmarried women. We show that 70% of missing unmarried women are of reproductive age and that it is the relatively high mortality rates of these young unmarried women (compared to their married counterparts) that drive this phenomenon.
Summary. When future generations enter hedonistically into current welfare, a social planner should overweight the future relative to the individual, even if every individual has the same discount factor.
Summary. This paper studies costly conflict over private and public goods. Oil is an example of the former, political power an example of the latter. Groups involved in conflict are likely to be small when the prize is private, and large when the prize is public. We examine these implications empirically by constructing a global dataset at the ethnic group level and studying conflict along ethnic lines. Our theoretical predictions find significant confirmation in an empirical setting
Summary. We study a model of time preferences in which agents discount both past and future payoffs to obtain their lifetime felicity. Agents derive utility from their current lifetime felicity, as well the anticipated felicity of a distinguished future self. These postulates permit an agent to anticipate future regret in current decisions, and generate a set of novel testable implications in line with empirical evidence.
Summary. The Dow relies on price-weighting, which is decidedly an odd methodology. We propose a bridging process that generates convergence to a value-weighted index without compromising the historical continuity of the Dow.
Summary. This paper studies costly conflict in a world of complete information, in which society can commit to divisible transfers among all potentially warring groups. The difficulty in preventing conflict arises from the possibility that there may be several conflictual divisions of society, each based on a different marker, such as class, geography, religion, or ethnicity. It is shown that this diversity of societal markers is particularly conducive to social instability when potential conflict is over private, divisible resources. In contrast, when conflict is over public goods, such diversity promotes social stability.