Working Paper
Markwardt, K., Martinello, A., & Sándor, L. (Working Paper). Does Liquidity Substitute for Unemployment Insurance? Evidence from the Introduction of Home Equity Loans in Denmark” (Job Market Paper).Abstract

Would the value of unemployment insurance fall if more people had a buffer stock of liquid savings? Using quasi-experimental evidence from the unexpected introduction of home equity loans in Denmark, where public unemployment insurance is voluntary, we find that liquidity and insurance are substitutes. A Danish reform provided less levered homeowners with more liquidity. Using a ten-year-long panel dataset drawn from administrative registries, we find that people who obtained access to extra liquidity were less likely to sign up for unemployment insurance. The effect is concentrated among those for whom insurance has negative expected value. In this group, extra liquidity worth one year’s income decreases insurance up-take by as much as a 0.3 percentage point fall in the risk of unemployment. Placebo tests for earlier years show no differential trends by leverage before the natural experiment. This implies that the liquidity of financial assets influences unemployment insurance uptake in the absence of public provision of insurance.

Ambrus, A., Ásgeirsdóttir, T. L., Noor, J., & Sándor, L. (Working Paper). Compensated Discount Functions: An Experiment on the Influence of Expected Income on Time Preferences.Abstract

This paper examines the empirical question of whether subjects’ static choices among rewards received at different times are influenced by their expected income levels at those times. Moreover, we recover time preferences after compensating for possible income effects. Besides eliciting subjects’ preference between standard delayed rewards, the experimental design also elicited their preferences over delayed rewards that are received only if the subject’s income remains approximately constant. These preferences, along with elicited subjective probabilities of satisfying the condition, make the correction possible. We conducted the experiments in Iceland, where our prompt access to income tax records enabled us to condition delayed rewards on income realizations. We find that background income is associated with preferences over unconditional delayed rewards. While most people exhibited present bias when comparing unconditional delayed rewards, subjects with stable income did not. The results are similar for the entire sample once we correct subjects’ discount functions for income effects. This suggests that income expectations have an effect on choices between future rewards, and that this may account for some of the present-bias observed in experiments.

Chetty, R., Saez, E., & Sándor, L. (2014). What Policies Increase Prosocial Behavior? An Experiment with Referees at the Journal of Public Economics. Journal of Economic Perspectives , 28 (3), 169-88. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We evaluate policies to increase prosocial behavior using a field experiment with 1,500 referees at the Journal of Public Economics. We randomly assign referees to four groups: a control group with a six week deadline to submit a referee report, a group with a four week deadline, a cash incentive group rewarded with $100 for meeting the four week deadline, and a social incentive group in which referees were told that their turnaround times would be publicly posted. We obtain four sets of results. First, shorter deadlines reduce the time referees take to submit reports substantially. Second, cash incentives significantly improve speed, especially in the week before the deadline. Cash payments do not crowd out intrinsic motivation: after the cash treatment ends, referees who received cash incentives are no slower than those in the 4 week deadline group. Third, social incentives have smaller but significant effects on review times and are especially effective among tenured professors, who are less sensitive to deadlines and cash incentives. Fourth, all the treatments have little or no effect on agreement rates, quality of reports, or review times at other journals. We conclude that small changes in journals’ policies could substantially expedite peer review at little cost. More generally, price incentives, nudges, and social pressure are effective and complementary methods of increasing prosocial behavior.