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Essays in Experimental Game Theory and Applied Microeconomics


Chapter 1: We experimentally study two channels through which reputation changes behavior in coordination games. The first is the information that reputation provides on subjects’ histories. We show that subjects use this information to coordinate, but their behavior is the same when we provide them with randomly generated reputations that reveal no information about the histories. The second is the change in incentives that comes with reputation; if some reputation changes opponents’ play favorably then there is an incentive to build that reputation. We find no evidence of this effect in our experiment.

Chapter 2.: We experimentally study how mutual payoff information affects play in strategic settings. Subjects play the Prisoner's Dilemma or Stag Hunt game against randomly re-matched opponents under two information treatments. In our partial-information treatment subjects are shown only their own payoffs, while in our full-information treatment they are shown both their own and their opponent's payoffs. In both treatments, they receive feedback on their opponent's action after each round. We find that mutual payoff information initially facilitates reaching the Pareto-efficient outcome in both games. While play in the Prisoner's Dilemma converges toward the unique Nash equilibrium of the game under both information treatments, mutual payoff information has a substantial impact on the equilibrium selection in the Stag Hunt throughout all rounds of the game.

Chapter 3: Under the common-law system of coverture in the United States, a married woman relinquished control of property and wages to her husband. Many U.S. states passed acts between 1850 and 1920 that expanded a married woman's right to keep her market earnings and to own separate property. The former were called married women's earnings acts (MWEAs) and the latter married women's property acts (MWPAs). We postulate that the acts caused women to anticipate greater benefits from having children within rather than outside of marriage. We thus expect the passage of MWPAs and MWEAs to reduce the likelihood that single women become mothers of young children. Using data from the U.S. Census for the years 1860 to 1920 , we find that the property acts in fact reduced the likelihood that single women have young children.

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