Econometrica March 2019 is now online

Volume 87, Issue 2 (March 2019) has just been published.  The full content of the journal is accessible at




Frontmatter of Econometrica Vol. 87 Iss. 2

Estimation of an Equilibrium Model with Externalities: Post-Disaster Neighborhood Rebuilding
Chao Fu, Jesse Gregory

We study the optimal design of subsidies in an equilibrium setting, where the decisions of individual recipients impose externalities on one another. We apply the model to the case of post‐Katrina rebuilding in New Orleans under the Louisiana Road Home rebuilding grant program (RH). We estimate the structural model via indirect inference, exploiting a discontinuity in the formula for determining the size of grants, which helps isolate the causal effect of neighbors' rebuilding on one's own rebuilding choices. We find that the additional rebuilding induced by RH generated positive externalities equivalent to $4950 to each inframarginal household whose rebuilding choice was not affected by the program. Counterfactual policy experiments find that optimal subsidy policies bias grant offers against relocation, with an inverse‐U‐shaped relationship between the degree of bias and the severity of damages from the disaster.
Read More


Take the Short Route: Equilibrium Default and Debt Maturity
Mark Aguiar, Manuel Amador, Hugo Hopenhayn, Iván Werning

We study the interactions between sovereign debt default and maturity choice in a setting with limited commitment for repayment as well as future debt issuances. Our main finding is that, under a wide range of conditions, the sovereign should, as long as default is not preferable, remain passive in long‐term bond markets, making payments and retiring long‐term bonds as they mature but never actively issuing or buying back such bonds. The only active debt‐management margin is the short‐term bond market. We show that any attempt to manipulate the existing maturity profile of outstanding long‐term bonds generates losses, as bond prices move against the sovereign. Our results hold regardless of the shape of the yield curve. The yield curve captures the average costs of financing at different maturities but is misleading regarding the marginal costs.
Read More


Insurgency and Small Wars: Estimation of Unobserved Coalition Structures
Francesco Trebbi, Eric Weese

Insurgency and guerrilla warfare impose enormous socio‐economic costs and often persist for decades. The opacity of such forms of conflict is an obstacle to effective international humanitarian intervention and development programs. To shed light on the internal organization of otherwise unknown insurgent groups, this paper proposes two methodologies for the detection of unobserved coalitions of militants in conflict areas. These approaches are based on daily geocoded incident‐level data on insurgent attacks. We provide applications to the Afghan conflict during the 2004–2009 period and to Pakistan during the 2008–2011 period, identifying systematically different coalition structures. Applications to global terrorism data and identification of new groups or shifting coalitions are discussed.
Read More


Engel's Law in the Global Economy: Demand-Induced Patterns of Structural Change, Innovation, and Trade
Kiminori Matsuyama

Endogenous demand composition across sectors due to income elasticity differences, or Engel's Law for brevity, affects (i) sectoral compositions in employment and in value‐added, (ii) variations in innovation rates and in productivity change across sectors, (iii) intersectoral patterns of trade across countries, and (iv) product cycles from rich to poor countries. Using a two‐country model of directed technical change with a continuum of sectors under nonhomothetic preferences, which is rich enough to capture all these effects as well as their interactions, this paper offers a unifying perspective on how economic growth and globalization affect the patterns of structural change, innovation, and trade across countries and across sectors in the presence of Engel's Law. Among the main messages is that globalization amplifies, instead of reducing, the power of endogenous domestic demand composition differences as a driver of structural change.
Read More


Mechanisms with Evidence: Commitment and Robustness
Elchanan Ben‐Porath, Eddie Dekel, Barton L. Lipman

We show that in a class of I‐agent mechanism design problems with evidence, commitment is unnecessary, randomization has no value, and robust incentive compatibility has no cost. In particular, for each agent i, we construct a simple disclosure game between the principal and agent i where the equilibrium strategies of the agents in these disclosure games give their equilibrium strategies in the game corresponding to the mechanism but where the principal is not committed to his response. In this equilibrium, the principal obtains the same payoff as in the optimal mechanism with commitment. As an application, we show that certain costly verification models can be characterized using equilibrium analysis of an associated model of evidence.
Read More


Peer-Confirming Equilibrium
Elliot Lipnowski, Evan Sadler

We can often predict the behavior of those closest to us more accurately than that of complete strangers, yet we routinely engage in strategic situations with both: our social network impacts our strategic knowledge. Peer‐confirming equilibrium describes the behavioral consequences of this intuition in a noncooperative game. We augment a game with a network to represent strategic information: if two players are linked in the network, they have correct conjectures about each others' strategies. In peer‐confirming equilibrium, there is common belief that players (i) behave rationally and (ii) correctly anticipate neighbors' play. In simultaneous‐move games, adding links to the network always restricts the set of outcomes. In dynamic games, the outcome set may vary non‐monotonically with the network because the actions of well‐connected players help poorly‐connected players coordinate. This solution concept provides a useful language for studying public good provision, highlights a new channel through which central individuals facilitate coordination, and delineates possible sources of miscoordination in protests and coups.
Read More


Measurable Selection for Purely Atomic Games
Ziv Hellman, Yehuda John Levy

A general selection theorem is presented constructing a measurable mapping from a state space to a parameter space under the assumption that the state space can be decomposed as a collection of countable equivalence classes under a smooth equivalence relation. It is then shown how this selection theorem can be used as a general purpose tool for proving the existence of measurable equilibria in broad classes of several branches of games when an appropriate smoothness condition holds, including Bayesian games with atomic knowledge spaces, stochastic games with countable orbits, and graphical games of countable degree—examples of a subclass of games with uncountable state spaces that we term purely atomic games. Applications to repeated games with symmetric incomplete information and acceptable bets are also presented.
Read More


Trading Votes for Votes. A Dynamic Theory
Alessandra Casella, Thomas Palfrey

We develop a framework to study the dynamics of vote trading over multiple binary issues. We prove that there always exists a stable allocation of votes that is reachable in a finite number of trades, for any number of voters and issues, any separable preference profile, and any restrictions on the coalitions that may form. If at every step all blocking trades are chosen with positive probability, convergence to a stable allocation occurs in finite time with probability 1. If coalitions are unrestricted, the outcome of vote trading must be Pareto optimal, but unless there are three voters or two issues, it need not correspond to the Condorcet winner.
Read More


The Interval Structure of Optimal Disclosure
Yingni Guo, Eran Shmaya

A sender persuades a receiver to accept a project by disclosing information about a payoff‐relevant quality. The receiver has private information about the quality, referred to as his type. We show that the sender‐optimal mechanism takes the form of nested intervals: each type accepts on an interval of qualities and a more optimistic type's interval contains a less optimistic type's interval. This nested‐interval structure offers a simple algorithm to solve for the optimal disclosure and connects our problem to the monopoly screening problem. The mechanism is optimal even if the sender conditions the disclosure mechanism on the receiver's reported type.
Read More


On Heckits, LATE, and Numerical Equivalence
Patrick Kline, Christopher R. Walters

Structural econometric methods are often criticized for being sensitive to functional form assumptions. We study parametric estimators of the local average treatment effect (LATE) derived from a widely used class of latent threshold crossing models and show they yield LATE estimates algebraically equivalent to the instrumental variables (IV) estimator. Our leading example is Heckman's (1979) two‐step (“Heckit”) control function estimator which, with two‐sided non‐compliance, can be used to compute estimates of a variety of causal parameters. Equivalence with IV is established for a semiparametric family of control function estimators and shown to hold at interior solutions for a class of maximum likelihood estimators. Our results suggest differences between structural and IV estimates often stem from disagreements about the target parameter rather than from functional form assumptions per se. In cases where equivalence fails, reporting structural estimates of LATE alongside IV provides a simple means of assessing the credibility of structural extrapolation exercises.
Read More



Forthcoming Papers

Backmatter of Econometrica Vol. 87 Iss. 2


Publication Date: 
Thursday, March 28, 2019