Castillo Garcia, Jose Gabriel (2015-07). Uncovering Economic Behavior in Heterogeneous Institutional Environments: Three Essays in Applied and Experimental Economics. Doctoral Dissertation.
The three essays in this thesis foster the identification of unexpected influences of different institutional arrangements on economic outcomes. The first two essays, experimental in nature, analyze the impact of two different contexts within Public Goods Games (PGG) environments. The first essay documents exact replications of four classic experiments in PGG and cast unexpected results in contribution behavior. First, it shows how the attenuation effect in replication studies, well documented in other disciplines, is also pervasive in experimental economics. Not all previous findings replicate, and effects found in successful replications are much smaller. Second, it shows that experimental context matters; experimental subjects in Texas tend to contribute more and free ride less, across different experiments. The second essay analyzes whether democratic institutions have any impact on agency problems where group members face a centralized arrangement of sanctioning power. It offers novel evidence, although a weak effect, of the intrinsic incentives for pro-social behavior attached to legitimacy in democratic institutions to promote collective action and higher economic efficiency. Finally, the last essay offers an empirical alternative to unravel heterogeneous unobserved traits on credit market customers. Through the use of mixture density estimation methods and rich administrative data, it identifies different quality-types of clients for credit demand and default decisions. Credit customers differ in their individual preferences, as well as levels of foresight, strategic behavior; all unobserved by the principal (lender). Accounting for these unobserved traits improves the forecast of potential clients' behavior and offers alternatives for different contracts and risk-pricing strategies to reduce credit rationing.