Research

Working papers:

Hypocrisy and Strategic Social Pressure (latest draft: 4.5.17)
with Alexander Clark
We develop a model in which costly voting in a large two-party election is a sequentially rational choice of strategic, self-interested players who can reward fellow voters by forming stronger ties in a network formation coordination game. The predictions match a variety of stylized facts, including explaining why an individual's voting behavior may depend on what she knows about her friends' actions. Players have imperfect information about others' voting behavior, and we find that some degree of privacy may actually be necessary for voting in equilibrium, enabling hypocritical but useful social pressure. Our framework applies to any costly prosocial behavior.

Coordinated Shirking
This paper considers a setting in which a principal attempts to induce costly effort from a group of agents with the threat of punishment. If the principal's cost of punishing agents is convex, she may be unwilling to simultaneously punish large groups of agents, leading them to coordinate their shirking when possible. Applications include speeding, looting, and the 2008 financial crisis: a positive technology shock can actually cause an aggregate downturn, by allowing workers who use the new technology to coordinate shirking. Furthermore, even workers who learn that they are using flawed technology may continue to do so.


Work in progress:

Social Capital Investment and Racial Inequality