There is a widely held view within the general public that large corporations should act in the interests of a broader group of agents than just their shareholders (the stakeholder view). This paper presents a framework where this idea can be justified. The point of departure is the observation that a large firm typically faces endogenous risks that may have a significant impact on the workers it employs and the consumers it serves. These risks generate externalities on these stakeholders which are not internalized by shareholders. As a result, in the competitive equilibrium, there is under-investment in the prevention of these risks. We suggest that this under-investment problem can be alleviated if firms are instructed to maximize the total welfare of their stakeholders rather than shareholder value alone (stakeholder equilibrium). The stakeholder equilibrium can be implemented by introducing new property rights (employee rights and consumer rights) and instructing managers to maximize the total value of the firm (the value of these rights plus shareholder value). If there is only one firm, the stakeholder equilibrium is Pareto optimal. However, this is not true with more than one firm and/or heterogeneous agents, which illustrates some of the limits of the stakeholder model.

]]>We analyze the Vickrey mechanism for auctions of multiple identical goods when the players have both Knightian uncertainty over their own valuations and incomplete preferences. In this model, the Vickrey mechanism is no longer dominant-strategy, and we prove that all dominant-strategy mechanisms are inadequate. However, we also prove that, in undominated strategies, the social welfare produced by the Vickrey mechanism in the worst case is not only very good, but also essentially optimal.

]]>We consider a group of strategic agents who must each repeatedly take one of two possible actions. They learn which of the two actions is preferable from initial private signals and by observing the actions of their neighbors in a social network.

We show that the question of whether or not the agents learn efficiently depends on the topology of the social network. In particular, we identify a geometric “egalitarianism” condition on the social network that guarantees learning in infinite networks, or learning with high probability in large finite networks, in any equilibrium. We also give examples of nonegalitarian networks with equilibria in which learning fails.

This paper characterizes an equilibrium payoff subset for dynamic Bayesian games as discounting vanishes. Monitoring is imperfect, transitions may depend on actions, types may be correlated, and values may be interdependent. The focus is on equilibria in which players report truthfully. The characterization generalizes that for repeated games, reducing the analysis to static Bayesian games with transfers. With independent private values, the restriction to truthful equilibria is without loss, except for the punishment level: if players withhold their information during punishment-like phases, a folk theorem obtains.

]]>We consider a large market where auctioneers with private reservation values compete for bidders by announcing cheap-talk messages. If auctioneers run efficient first-price auctions, then there always exists an equilibrium in which each auctioneer truthfully reveals her type. The equilibrium is constrained efficient, assigning more bidders to auctioneers with larger gains from trade. The choice of the trading mechanism is crucial for the result. Most notably, the use of second-price auctions (equivalently, ex post bidding) leads to the nonexistence of any informative equilibrium. We examine the robustness of our finding in various dimensions, including finite markets and equilibrium selection.

]]>We argue that poverty can perpetuate itself by undermining the capacity for self-control. In line with a distinguished psychological literature, we consider modes of self-control that involve the self-imposed use of contingent punishments and rewards. We study settings in which consumers with quasi-hyperbolic preferences confront an otherwise standard intertemporal allocation problem with credit constraints. Our main result demonstrates that low initial assets can limit self-control, trapping people in poverty, while individuals with high initial assets can accumulate indefinitely. Thus, even temporary policies that *initiate* accumulation among the poor may be effective. We examine implications concerning the effect of access to credit on saving, the demand for commitment devices, the design of financial accounts to promote accumulation, and the variation of the marginal propensity to consume across income from different sources. We also explore the nature of optimal self-control, demonstrating that it has a simple and behaviorally plausible structure that is immune to self-renegotiation.

This paper analyzes South Africa's Free Basic Water Policy, under which households receive a free water allowance equal to the World Health Organization's recommended minimum. I estimate residential water demand, evaluate the welfare effects of free water, and provide optimal price schedules derived from a social planner's problem. I use a data set of monthly metered billing data for 60,000 households for 2002–2009 from a particularly disadvantaged suburb of Pretoria, with rich price variation across 20 different nonlinear tariff schedules. I find that the free allowance acts as a lump-sum subsidy, without large effects on water consumption. However, it is possible to reallocate the current subsidy to form an optimal tariff without a free allowance, which would increase welfare while leaving the water provider's profit unchanged. This optimal tariff would also reduce the number of households consuming low quantities of water, a desirable policy goal according to the WHO.

]]>This paper makes the following original contributions to the literature. (i) We develop a simpler analytical characterization and numerical algorithm for Bayesian inference in structural vector autoregressions (VARs) that can be used for models that are overidentified, just-identified, or underidentified. (ii) We analyze the asymptotic properties of Bayesian inference and show that in the underidentified case, the asymptotic posterior distribution of contemporaneous coefficients in an *n*-variable VAR is confined to the set of values that orthogonalize the population variance–covariance matrix of ordinary least squares residuals, with the height of the posterior proportional to the height of the prior at any point within that set. For example, in a bivariate VAR for supply and demand identified solely by sign restrictions, if the population correlation between the VAR residuals is positive, then even if one has available an infinite sample of data, any inference about the demand elasticity is coming exclusively from the prior distribution. (iii) We provide analytical characterizations of the informative prior distributions for impulse-response functions that are implicit in the traditional sign-restriction approach to VARs, and we note, as a special case of result (ii), that the influence of these priors does not vanish asymptotically. (iv) We illustrate how Bayesian inference with informative priors can be both a strict generalization and an unambiguous improvement over frequentist inference in just-identified models. (v) We propose that researchers need to explicitly acknowledge and defend the role of prior beliefs in influencing structural conclusions and we illustrate how this could be done using a simple model of the U.S. labor market.

We propose a method to set identify bounds on the sharing rule for a general collective household consumption model. Unlike the effects of distribution factors, the level of the sharing rule cannot be uniquely identified without strong assumptions on preferences across households. Our new results show that, though not point identified without these assumptions, strong bounds on the sharing rule can be obtained. We get these bounds by applying revealed preference restrictions implied by the collective model to the household's continuous aggregate demand functions. We obtain informative bounds even if nothing is known about whether each good is public, private, or assignable within the household, though having such information tightens the bounds. We apply our method to US PSID data, obtaining narrow bounds that yield useful conclusions regarding the effects of income and wages on intrahousehold resource sharing, and on the prevalence of individual (as opposed to household level) poverty.

]]>This paper develops a specification test for instrument validity in the heterogeneous treatment effect model with a binary treatment and a discrete instrument. The strongest testable implication for instrument validity is given by the condition for nonnegativity of point-identifiable compliers' outcome densities. Our specification test infers this testable implication using a variance-weighted Kolmogorov–Smirnov test statistic. The test can be applied to both discrete and continuous outcome cases, and an extension of the test to settings with conditioning covariates is provided.

]]>Strategic choice data from a carefully chosen set of ring-network games are used to obtain individual-level estimates of higher-order rationality. The experimental design exploits a natural exclusion restriction that is considerably weaker than the assumptions underlying alternative designs in the literature. In our data set, 93 percent of subjects are rational, 71 percent are rational and believe others are rational, 44 percent are rational and hold second-order beliefs that others are rational, and 22 percent are rational and hold at least third-order beliefs that others are rational.

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