Research

Published papers

“Attention discrimination: Theory and field experiments with monitoring information acquisition” (with Michal Bauer, Julie Chytilová, and Filip Matějka)
American Economic Review, 2016, 106(6), 1437-75
“Exeter Prize for Research in Experimental Economics, Decision Theory and Behavioral Economics” sponsored by Exeter Business School
Best paper award on “Economics of Discrimination” sponsored by UniCredit & Universities Foundation
Full paper | Supplementary online materials
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We integrate tools to monitor information acquisition in field experiments on discrimination and examine whether gaps arise already when decision-makers choose the effort level for reading an application. In both countries we study, negatively stereotyped minority names reduce employers’ effort to inspect applicants’ resumes. In contrast, minority names increase information acquisition in the rental housing market. Both results are consistent with a model of endogenous allocation of costly attention, which magnifies the role of prior beliefs and preferences beyond the one considered in standard models of discrimination. The findings have implications for magnitude of discrimination, returns to human capital and policy.

“Parental leave length, social norms, and female labor market re-entry frictions” (with Barbara Pertold-Gebická)
International Journal of Manpower, 2018, 39(4), 600-620; Special Issue: Hiring discrimination: measures, moderators, and mechanisms
Supplementary online materials
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Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to identify the role of employers in creating employment gaps among women returning to the labor market after parental leaves of different durations.
Design/methodology/approach
The authors use a controlled correspondence field experiment that orthogonally manipulates parental leave length and the quality of fictitious female job candidates. The experiment is complemented with a survey among human resource managers.
Findings
High-quality candidates receive more interview invitations when applying after a short parental leave, while low-quality (LQ) candidates receive more interview invitations when applying after a typical three years long parental leave. Survey results suggest that the difference in invitations between short and typical leave treatments is driven by a social norm that mothers should stay home with children younger than three. Productivity gains from employing a LQ job applicant with a shorter career break might not be high enough to outweigh the adverse social norm effect.
Social implications
The presented results point toward the strong effect of prevailing social norms on job search prospects of women returning to the labor market after parental leave.
Originality/value
A correspondence experiment has not been used before to study the relationship between time spent on leave and the labor market prospects of mothers. It also extends research on social norms to the domain of hiring decisions.

“Sanctioning and trustworthiness across ethnic groups: Experimental evidence from Afghanistan” (with Ian Levely)
Journal of Public Economics, 2021, 194, 104347
Full paper | CESifo Working paper | Supplementary online materials
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Since social preferences towards individuals perceived as belonging to a different group are typically weaker, cooperation is more difficult in ethnically diverse settings. Using an economic experiment in Afghanistan, we show how the ability to impose financial penalties can help to overcome this. We use a trust game with two special features: investors communicate a desired back-transfer and, in some treatments, can choose whether to conditionally impose a small fine on trustees who do not comply with this request. We randomly paired subjects with either a co-ethnic or someone from a different ethnic group. We find that when investors do not have the ability to impose a fine, subjects are more trustworthy towards co-ethnics. When the fine is imposed by a co-ethnic, it has little effect. However, in cross-ethnic interactions, the fine increases trustworthiness, virtually eliminating in-group bias. Interestingly, this result is qualitatively similar when the fine is available to the investor but not used. These results suggest that institutions for enforcing cooperation are more effective when applied between, rather than within, ethnic groups, due to behavioral differences in how individuals respond to pecuniary sanctions.

“Psychological Effects of Poverty on Time Preferences” (with Michal Bauer, Julie Chytilová, and Ian Levely)
The Economic Journal, 2021, 131(638): 2357-2382
Full paper | CEPR Discussion paper
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We test whether an environment of poverty affects time preferences through purely psychological channels. We measured discount rates among farmers in Uganda who made decisions about when to enjoy entertainment instead of working. To circumvent the role of economic constraints, we experimentally induced thoughts about poverty-related problems, using priming techniques. We find that thinking about poverty increases the preference to consume entertainment early and to delay work. Using monitoring tools similar to eye tracking, a novel feature for this subject pool, we show that this effect is unlikely to be driven by less careful decision-making processes.

“Seasonal scarcity and sharing norms”
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2021, 185, 303-316
1st prize in the “Young Economist of the Year 2014” award sponsored by the Czech Economic Society
Full paper
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How does scarcity affect individual willingness to altruistically enforce norms of sharing with others and individual willingness to share? Sharing within informal communities offers an important insurance mechanism during adverse shocks. But scarcity may test the stability of the enforcement mechanisms of informal norms. I conducted repeated incentivized economic experiments in a lean and in a relatively plentiful post-harvest season with the same group of Afghan subsistence farmers who experience seasonal scarcities annually annual seasonal scarcities. Enforcement of sharing weakens substantially in times of scarcity, while sharing itself remains temporally stable. Leniency in enforcement may protect individuals who cannot afford to share from social sanctions, yet it may also threaten sharing and result in deterioration of prosociality. The findings can help reconcile mixed evidence in existing literature which has documented both resilience and breakdowns in response to scarcity.

“Covid-19 Crisis and Hostility against Foreigners” (with Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, and Julie Chytilová)
European Economic Review, 2021, 137: 103818
Full paper | SSRN Discussion paper
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Harmful behavior against out-group members often rises during periods of economic hardship and health pandemics. Here, we test the widespread concern that the Covid-19 crisis may fuel hostility against people from other nations. Using a controlled money-burning task, we elicited hostile behavior among a nationally representative sample (n = 2,186) in the Czech Republic during the first wave of the pandemic. We provide evidence that exogenously elevating the salience of the Covid-19 crisis increases hostility against foreigners from the EU, USA and Asia. This behavioral response is similar across various demographic sub-groups. Further, we observe zero to small negative effects for both domestic out-groups and in-groups, suggesting that the salience of Covid-19 might negatively affect behavior not only towards foreigners but to other people more generally, though these findings are not conclusive. The results underscore the importance of not inflaming anti-foreigner sentiments and suggest the need to monitor impacts of the crisis on behavior in the social domain.

Other publications

“Who actually decides? Parental influence on the housing tenure choice of their children” (with Martin LuxTomáš SamecPetr SunegaJán PálgutaIrena Boumová, and Ladislav Kážmér)
Urban Studies, 2018, 55(2), 406-426
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We focus on the role of within-family socialisation and the relationship between socialisation and resource transfers in the intergenerational transmission of housing preferences, the formation of familial housing attitudes and thus the reproduction of a normative housing tenure ladder across generations in Czech society. We show that resource transfers and the within-family socialisation of housing preferences, including preferences concerning housing tenure, are closely interconnected. In other words, parental influence on decision to buy own housing (and on housing preferences in general) of their adult children through socialisation is stronger if there is an (actual or assumed) intergenerational resource transfer. This has several implications for how housing markets and systems work. The paper draws on findings from qualitative, quantitative and experimental studies.

Working papers

“Spreading consensus: Correcting misperceptions about the views of the medical community has lasting impacts on Covid-19 vaccine take-up” (with Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, and Julie Chytilová)
Full paper | Supplementary Information
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Identifying sources of vaccine hesitancy is one of the central challenges in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. In this study, we focus on the role of public misperceptions about doctors’ views. Motivated by widespread concern that media reports create uncertainty in how people perceive expert opinions, even when broad consensus exists, we elicited trust in Covid-19 vaccines among 9,650 doctors in the Czech Republic. We found evidence of strong consensus: 90% of doctors trust the approved vaccines. Next, we conducted a nationally representative survey (N=2,101) and document systemic misperception of doctors’ views: more than 90% of respondents underestimate doctors’ trust; the most common belief is that only 50% of doctors trust the vaccines. Finally, we integrate randomized provision of information about the true views held by doctors into a longitudinal data collection and study its effects across eight waves of data collection covering five-months period during which the vaccine was gradually rolled out. We find that the treatment recalibrates beliefs, leads to a lasting and stable increase in vaccine demand, and that treated individuals are 5 percentage points more likely to be vaccinated five months after the intervention. This paper illuminates how the engagement of professional medical associations, with their unparalleled capacity to elicit individual views of doctors on a large scale, may help to create a cheap, scalable intervention that corrects misperceptions and has lasting impacts on behavior.

Work in progress

Other writing

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health (A study for the Institute for Democracy and Economic Analysis IDEA; in Czech, with Jana Cahlíková, Michal Bauer, and Julie Chytilová; in Czech; 2020)
Full paper

How to Communicate with the Public? Lessons from Behavioral Economics for the Fight Against Covid-19 (A study for the Institute for Democracy and Economic Analysis IDEA; in Czech; 2020)
Full paper

Labor market (non-) discrimination of women in expected motherhood: Experimental evidence (A study for the Institute for Democracy and Economic Analysis IDEA; in Czech; 2015)
Full paper

Three practical guidebooks prepared for a Czech NGO “People in Need” (with Ian Levely; 2014)

  1. Livelihood development: A practical guide to administering PIN livelihood development programs 
  2. Impact evaluation: A practical guide to designing and administering impact evaluations of PIN programs
  3. Data collection: A practical guide to collecting data in developing countries

First part | Second part | Third part

Other research

Life during a pandemic. Ongoing panel data collection tracking the behavior of a representative sample of over 3000 Czechs during the Covid-19 pandemic. Starting March 30, bi- or tri-weekly data collection. www.zivotbehempandemie.cz
Cite data as: Daniel Prokop, Vojtěch Bartoš, Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, Julie Chytilová, Michaela Kudrnáčová, Lucie Marková, Eliška Dvořáková, Tomáš Hovorka (2021): Life during the pandemic: Longitudinal data set from the Czech Republic. URL: https://zivotbehempandemie.cz