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
Leading up to the 2008 financial crisis, new pricing technology facilitated new markets in securitized products. This paper posits that the widespread usefulness of this technology crucially contributed to the crisis, by allowing financial services workers and regulators alike to shirk in vetting its proper use. In the model, a principal attempts to induce costly effort from a group of agents with the threat of punishment. With a convex cost of punishing agents, she may be unwilling to simultaneously punish large groups of agents, leading them to shirk only when coordination is possible. In this setting, a new technology can actually cause an aggregate downturn specifically because it is widely useful: agents do not research it properly, knowing they will not all be punished even if their project fails. Furthermore, even agents who learn that they are using flawed technology may continue to do so.


Work in progress:

Social Capital and Racial Inequality