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2019 Working papers

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Title/Author(s) Abstract Number

Interview of Peter J Hammond

Philippe Mongin

Following an initiative of Social Choice and Welfare, this is the result of an interview conducted by email exchange during the period from July 2017 to February 2018, with minor adjustments later in 2018. Apart from some personal history, topics discussed include: (i) social choice, especially with interpersonal comparisons of utility; (ii) utilitarianism, including Harsanyi’s contributions; (iii) consequentialism in decision theory and in ethics; (iv) the independence axiom for decisions under risk; (v) welfare economics under uncertainty; (vi) incentive compatibility and strategy-proof mechanisms, especially in large economies; (vii) Pareto gains from trade, and from migration; (viii) cost–benefit analysis and welfare measurement; (ix) the possible future of normative economics. 1190

Community Origins of Industrial Entrepreneurship in Pre-Independence India

Bishnupriya Gupta, Dilip Mookherjee, Kaivan Munshi,
& Mario Sanclemente

We argue that community networks played an important role in the emergence of Indian entrepreneurship in the early stages of the cotton textile and jute textile industries in the late 19th and early 20th century respectively, overcoming the lack of market institutions and government support. From business registers, we construct a yearly panel dataset of entrepreneurs in these two industries. We find no evidence that entry is affected by prior trading experience or price shocks in the corresponding upstream sector. Firm directors exhibited a high degree of clustering of entrepreneurs by community. The dynamics of entry is consistent with a model of network-based dynamics 1189

Organizing Competition for the Market

Elisabetta Iossa, Patrick Rey, Michael Waterson

The paper studies competition for the market in a setting where incumbents (and, to a lesser extent, neighboring incumbents) benet from a cost advantage. The paper first compares the outcome of staggered and synchronous tenders, before drawing the implications for market design. We find that the timing of tenders should depend on the likelihood of monopolization. When monopolization is expected, synchronous tendering is preferable, as it strengthens the pressure that entrants exercise on the monopolist. When instead other firms remain active, staggered tenderingis preferable, asitmaximizes the competitive pressure that comes from the other firms. 1188

Rigidities and adjustments of daily prices to costs: Evidence from supermarket data

Monica Giulietti,
Jesus Otero,
Michael Waterson

We assess the extent of inertia in grocery retail prices using data on prices and costs from a large supermarket chain in Colombia. Relative to previous work our analysis benefits from the daily frequency of the data and the availability of reliable replacement cost data. We uncover evidence supporting the existence of significant nominal rigidities in reference prices (three months) and even more so in reference costs (about five months). There is evidence that the price and cost rigidities differ depending on the type of product, being on average smaller in the case of perishable goods. Using an Error Correction Model framework, we examine the path of prices relative to costs, to determine the speed of adjustment of prices to shocks. 1187

Historical Analysis of National Subjective Wellbeing using millions of Digitized Books

Thomas Hills, Eugenio Proto & Daniel Sgroi

We develop a new way to measure national subjective well-being across the very long run where traditional survey data on well-being is not available. Our method is based on quantitative analysis of digitized text from millions of books published over the past 200 years, long before the widespread availability of consistent survey data. The method uses psychological valence norms for thousands of words in different languages to compute the relative proportion of positive and negative language for four different nations (the USA, UK, Germany and Italy). We validate our measure against existing survey data from the 1970s onwards (when such data became available) showing that our measure is highly correlated with surveyed life satisfaction. We also validate our measure against historical trends in longevity and GDP (showing a positive relationship) and conflict (showing a negative relationship). Our measure allows a first look at changes in subjective well-being over the past two centuries, for instance highlighting the dramatic fall in well-being during the two World Wars and rise in relation to longevity. 1186