Working Papers

​"The When and Why of Affirmative Action: Evidence from a Laboratory Experiment"

Affirmative action policies have been implemented in several countries for the disadvantaged and historically discriminated communities. However, the implications of the timing of such preferential intervention on behavior i.e. whether they are implemented before (ex-ante) or after (ex-post) productivity, has not received much empirical focus. The primary objective of this paper is to estimate the impact of varying the timing and magnitude of affirmative action interventions on the performance of its recipients and non-recipients. I use a controlled laboratory experiment that uses a skill acquisition and tournament stage. In the experiment, I use variants of affirmative action interventions that preserve the probability of winning but differs in terms of the timing of the intervention. I test whether these policy variants can achieve the same goals irrespective of the timing of implementation or they fundamentally distort the incentive structure and lead to divergent outcomes. The results indicate that ex-ante policies have a favorable impact on improving performance of the disadvantaged category compared to an ex-post intervention, while fulfilling comparable representation target. Among ex-ante policies, those that compensate the disadvantaged category to have equal opportunity as the advantaged category records higher performance improvement compared to those where the compensation is unequal in magnitude.

"Until Insurance Do Us Part : The Impact of the ACA Medicaid Expansions on Marriage and Divorce Decisions"

This paper studies the impact of the Medicaid Expansion under the 2014 Affordable Care Act (ACA) provisions on marital behavior and decision making. The Medicaid expansions changed the benefit and cost associated with marriage as well as the eligibility criteria for qualifying for coverage. The spillover impact of such a policy remains an empirical question given the income effect of such a benefit which promotes economic stability which has been found to increase the likelihood of marriage. On the other hand, it can lead to a substitution effect when an alternative source of coverage is available through Medicaid instead of dependent coverage through one’s spouse which dampens incentive to marry. I use the American Community Survey data to study the causal impact of the Medicaid expansion, on marital decision making. I exploit the variation across time and state Medicaid expansion status to estimate a difference in difference model to investigate the causal impact of the Medicaid expansion on the propensity to marry or divorce. Results show that in the target population of low income non-elderly adults there is a reduction in the likelihood of entering marriage. This effect is particularly strong for women thereby highlighting the dependence that women have on coverage through one’s spouse making them more vulnerable to marriage dissolution. The impact on divorces shows a positive association.

" Robbing Peter to Pay Paul: Understanding How State Tax Credits Impact Charitable Giving" with James C. Cox, Michael K. Price and Florian Rundhammer

NBER Working Paper No. 27163

Donations to charity are widely encouraged by policy makers through tax provisions. A recent trend is the use of state income tax credits to reduce the cost of giving to qualifying causes. We use an online field experiment with a dictator game to test how the largest such program, Arizona's state income tax credit for donations to qualifying charities, affects donation decisions. In the experiment, some subjects receive detailed information about the tax credit program and the eligibility of individual charities before choosing their preferred recipient(s). We further vary the choice set available to subjects. Subjects can choose one or two charities from predetermined lists that differ in terms of the charities' eligibility for the tax program. We find that average giving is unaffected by the information provision and composition of the choice set. The distribution of dollars between qualifying and non-qualifying charities, however, changes dramatically across treatments. Our results suggest that subjects direct significantly more funds towards qualifying charities when they learn about the tax program. This effect is largely driven by subjects' second choice, that is, by subjects who can choose multiple charities. Our results underline the importance of accounting for reallocation of funds within sectors when studying the impact of fund-raising techniques and highlights the importance of considering a portfolio of choices instead of isolated donations.