Monday, January 7, 2019

Papers of the Moment

Happy New Year!

I was surprised at the interest generated when I last listed a few new intriguing working papers that I'm reading and enjoying.  Maybe another such posting is a good way to start the new year.  Hear are three:

Understanding Regressions with Observations Collected at High Frequency over Long Span

Chang, Yoosoon; Lu, Ye; Park, Joon Y.

In this paper, we analyze regressions with observations collected at small time interval over long period of time. For the formal asymptotic analysis, we assume that samples are obtained from continuous time stochastic processes, and let the sampling interval δ shrink down to zero and the sample span T increase up to infinity. In this setup, we show that the standard Wald statistic diverges to infinity and the regression becomes spurious as long as δ → 0 sufficiently fast relative to T → ∞. Such a phenomenon is indeed what is frequently observed in practice for the type of regressions considered in the paper. In contrast, our asymptotic theory predicts that the spuriousness disappears if we use the robust version of the Wald test with an appropriate longrun variance estimate. This is supported, strongly and unambiguously, by our empirical illustration.


Equity Concerns are Narrowly Framed

Christine L. Exley and Judd B. Kessler

We show that individuals narrowly bracket their equity concerns. Across four experiments including 1,600 subjects, individuals equalize components of payoffs rather than overall payoffs. When earnings are comprised of "small tokens" worth 1 cent and "large tokens" worth 2 cents, subjects frequently equalize the distribution of small (or large) tokens rather than equalizing total earnings. When payoffs are comprised of time and money, subjects similarly equalize the distribution of time (or money) rather than total payoffs. In addition, subjects are more likely to equalize time than money. These findings can help explain a variety of behavioral phenomena including the structure of social insurance programs, patterns of public good provision, and why transactions that turn money into time are often deemed repugnant.


Shackling the Identification Police?

Christopher J. Ruhm

This paper examines potential tradeoffs between research methods in answering important questions versus providing more cleanly identified estimates on problems that are potentially of lesser interest. The strengths and limitations of experimental and quasi-experimental methods are discussed and it is postulated that confidence in the results obtained may sometimes be overvalued compared to the importance of the topics addressed. The consequences of this are modeled and several suggestions are provided regarding possible steps to encourage greater focus on questions of fundamental importance.