Hessel Oosterbeek

Papers & Abstracts

The performance of school assignment mechanisms in practice

(with Monique de Haan and Pieter Gautier and Bas van der Klaauw)

Abstract: Theory points to a potential trade-off between two main school assignment mechanisms: Boston and Deferred Acceptance (DA). While DA is strategy- proof and gives a stable matching, Boston might outperform DA in terms of ex-ante efficiency. We quantify the trade-offs between the mechanisms by using information about actual choices under (adaptive) Boston complemented with survey data eliciting studentsí school preferences. We find that under Boston around 8% of the students apply in the first round to another school than their most-preferred school. We compare allocations resulting from Boston with DA with single tie-breaking (one central lottery; DA-STB) and multi- ple tie-breaking (separate lottery per school; DA-MTB). DA-STB places more students in their top-n schools, for any n, than Boston. DA-STB and Boston place more students in their single most-preferred school than DA-MTB, but fewer in their top-n, for n > 1. In terms of ex-ante efficiency, a majority of students is better off under Boston than under DA, while average wel- fare is higher (equivalent to a reduction in the home-school distance by 10 percent) under DA-STB than under Boston. Finally, students from disadvan- taged backgrounds benefit most from a switch from Boston to one of the DA mechanisms. Download this paper.

Peers at work: from the field to the lab

(with Roel van Veldhuizen and Joep Sonnemans)

Abstract: In an influential study, Mas and Moretti (2009) fi nd that "worker eff ort is positively related to the productivity of workers who see him, but not workers who do not see him". They interpret this as evidence that social pressure can reduce free riding. In this paper we report an attempt to reproduce the fi ndings of Mas and Moretti in a lab experiment. Lab experiments have the advantage that they can shut down alternative channels through which workers can influence the productivity of colleagues whom they observe. Although the subjects in our experiment are aware of the productivity of others and although there is sufficient scope for subjects to vary their productivity, we fi nd no evidence of the type of peer e ffects reported by Mas and Moretti. This suggests that their findings are less generalizable than has been assumed. Download this paper.

The responsiveness of training participation to tax deductibility

(with Edwin Leuven)

Abstract: To stimulate investment in training by individuals, the Dutch tax system allows a deduction of out-of-pocket training expenditures from taxable income. This paper investigates to what extent the resulting cost reduction encourages training investments. Two different identification strategies are used. The first strategy uses the progressive structure of the income tax scheme and compares groups with taxable income just above or just below kinks. The second strategy takes advantage of the 2001 tax reform, which implied substantial changes in marginal tax rates. These strategies exploit different sources of exogenous variation and are based on different identifying assumptions. Nevertheless, the results point in the same direction: tax incentives increase training participation. Download this paper.

Trade-offs between different early childhood interventions: Evidence from Ecuador

(with Josť Rosero)

Abstract: Using a discontinuity in the funding scheme, we evaluate the impact of home visits and child care centers on poor children and their mothers in Ecuador. We find that home visits are beneficial for children's cognitive outcomes and health and for mothers' psychological well-being but reduce mothers' labor force participation. In contrast, child care centers cause almost the exact opposite effects. Results are consistent with a framework in which child outcomes are determined by the quantity and quality of time inputs and in which mother's well-being depends on working hours and child outcomes. Download this paper.

Targeting microcredits to poor household enterprises in Ecuador

(with Diana Hidalgo)

Abstract: In 2007 the government of Ecuador launched a microcredit program for enterprises run by poor households. The program was targeted to households at the bottom two quintiles in the wealth distribution. This paper uses data collected prior to the start of the program to examine whether the governmentís targeting strategy reaches all households that are constrained in their access to loans of the type provided by the program. We find that the program excludes households in the third quintile of the wealth distribution that are equally credit constrained and have very similar demands for credit as households served by the program. Download this paper.

Splitting tournaments

(with Edwin Leuven and Bas van der Klaauw)

Abstract: In this paper we investigate how heterogeneous agents choose among tournaments with different prizes. We show that if the number of agents is sufficiently small, multiple equilibria can arise. Depending on how the prize money is split over the tournaments, these may include, for example, a perfect-sorting equilibrium in which high-ability agents compete in the high-prize tournament, while low-ability agents compete for the low prize. However, there are also equilibria in which agents follow a mixed strategy and there can be reverse sorting, i.e. low-ability agents are in the tournament with the high prize, while high-ability agents are in the low-prize tournament. We show that total effort always decreases compared to a single tournament. However, splitting the tournament may increase the effort of low-ability agents. Download this paper.

The impact of cash transfers on school enrollment: Evidence from Ecuador

(with Juan Ponce and Norbert Schady)

Abstract: This paper presents evidence about the impact on school enrollment of a program in Ecuador that gives cash transfers to the 40 percent poorest families. The evaluation design consists of a randomized experiment for families around the first quintile of the poverty index and of a regression discontinuity design for families around the second quintile of this index, which is the programís eligibility threshold. This allows us to compare results from two different credible identification methods, and to investigate whether the impact varies with familiesí poverty level. Around the first quintile of the poverty index the impact is positive while it is equal to zero around the second quintile. This suggests that for the poorest families the program lifts a credit constraint while this is not the case for families close to the eligibility threshold. Download this paper.