Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Department of Economics

Open Access Policy Deposits bannerUC Irvine

Open Access Policy Deposits

This series is automatically populated with publications deposited by UC Irvine Department of Economics researchers in accordance with the University of California’s open access policies. For more information see Open Access Policy Deposits and the UC Publication Management System.

Cover page of Quasi-Conventions



I consider a generalizarion of Vanderschraaf's correlated conventions to Quasi-Conventions, using the concept of coarse correlated equilibria. I discuss the possibility of improved payoffs and the question of learnability by simple uncoupled learning dynamics. Laboratory experiments are surveyed. The generalization introduces strains of commitment, which can be see from different points of view. I conclude that the strains of commitment preclude using the generalization as a stand-alone definition of convention, but that in certain settings Quasi-Conventions can be important modules within larger true conventions.

Cover page of Trade liberalization and local development in India: evidence from nighttime lights

Trade liberalization and local development in India: evidence from nighttime lights


We study the impact of the Indian trade liberalization of 1991 on development at the district level using satellite nighttime lights per capita as a proxy for development. We find that on average, trade liberalization increased nighttime lights per capita, but there was considerable heterogeneity in the effect. In particular, districts in states with flexible labor laws, districts with better road networks, proximity to the coast, or higher female labor force participation rate seem to have benefited more than other districts.

Cover page of Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings before the 2020-21 winter surge of COVID-19 in the United States.

Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings before the 2020-21 winter surge of COVID-19 in the United States.



COVID-19 in the US disproportionately affected, and continues to affect, racial/ethnic minorities. Although risky social gatherings for Thanksgiving and Christmas in 2020 contributed substantially to the "winter surge" in cases and deaths, no research examines potential racial/ethnic differences in behaviors related to holiday gatherings.


We used the Understanding America Survey (UAS) - Coronavirus Tracking, a nationally representative study of US adults, to examine associations between race/ethnicity and risky holiday gathering behavior (i.e., gathering with non-household members and with little to no social distancing or mask-wearing). We applied logistic regression models to examine racial/ethnic and socioeconomic differences in risky holiday gatherings while accounting for a person's pre-holiday perception of COVID-19 risk as well as related behaviors.


Non-Hispanic Black adults showed a lower prevalence of attending a risky Thanksgiving gathering than did non-Hispanic White adults (15 % vs 43 %, p <.001). The magnitude of this racial/ethnic difference was also found for risky Christmas gatherings. Hispanic and "Other" race/ethnicity adults also appeared less likely than non-Hispanic whites to attend a risky holiday gathering. Higher-income households attended a risky holiday gathering more frequently, when compared with lower income households (p <.001). Logistic regression results, which controlled for other COVID-19 related behaviors, support these main findings.


Racial/ethnic minorities, and non-Hispanic Black adults in particular, appeared least likely to have engaged in risky holiday gatherings in late 2020. If replicated, our findings appear consistent with the notion that behavioral modification among racial/ethnic minorities may have reduced the intensity of the 2020/21 "winter surge" in COVID-19.

Cover page of Unconditional cash transfers and maternal substance use: findings from a randomized control trial of low-income mothers with infants in the U.S.

Unconditional cash transfers and maternal substance use: findings from a randomized control trial of low-income mothers with infants in the U.S.



Policy debates over anti-poverty programs are often marked by pernicious stereotypes suggesting that direct cash transfers to people residing in poverty encourage health-risking behaviors such as smoking, drinking, and other substance use. Causal evidence on this issue is limited in the U.S. Given the prominent role of child allowances and other forms of cash assistance in the 2021 American Rescue Plan and proposed Build Back Better legislation, evidence on the extent to which a monthly unconditional cash gift changes substance use patterns among low-income mothers with infants warrants attention, particularly in the context of economic supports that can help improve early environments of children.


We employ a multi-site, parallel-group, randomized control trial in which 1,000 low-income mothers in the U.S. with newborns were recruited from hospitals shortly after the infant's birth and randomly assigned to receive either a substantial ($333) or a nominal ($20) monthly cash gift during the early years of the infant's life. We estimate the effect of the unconditional cash transfer on self-report measures of maternal substance use (i.e., alcohol, cigarette, or opioid use) and household expenditures on alcohol and cigarettes after one year of cash gifts.


The cash gift difference of $313 per month had small and statistically nonsignificant impacts on group differences in maternal reports of substance use and household expenditures on alcohol or cigarettes. Effect sizes ranged between - 0.067 standard deviations and + 0.072 standard deviations. The estimated share of the $313 group difference spent on alcohol and tobacco was less than 1%.


Our randomized control trial of monthly cash gifts to mothers with newborn infants finds that a cash gift difference of $313 per month did not significantly change maternal use of alcohol, cigarettes, or opioids or household expenditures on alcohol or cigarettes. Although the structure of our cash gifts differs somewhat from that of a government-provided child allowance, our null effect findings suggest that unconditional cash transfers aimed at families living in poverty are unlikely to induce large changes in substance use and expenditures by recipients.

Trial registration

Registered on Clinical NCT03593356 in July of 2018.




We evaluate the Friedman rule for optimal monetary policy in a laboratory economy based on Lagos–Wright (Journal of Economic Theory 145 (2010), 1508–24). We explore two implementations of Friedman's rule: one involving deflationary monetary policy and another where interest is paid on money. We compare the welfare consequences of the Friedman rule with two other policies: a constant money supply regime and a regime where the money supply grows at a constant k%. Counter to theory, we find that the Friedman rule is not welfare-improving, performing no better than the constant money regime. By one welfare measure, the k% money growth rate regime performs best.

Learning in two-dimensional beauty contest games: Theory and experimental evidence


We extend the beauty contest game to two dimensions: each player chooses two numbers to be as close as possible to certain target values, which are linear functions of the averages of the two number choices. One of the targets depends on the averages of both numbers, making the choices interrelated. We report on an experiment where we vary the eigenvalues of the associated two-dimensional linear system and find that subjects can learn the Pareto-optimal Nash Equilibrium of the system if both eigenvalues are stable and cannot learn it if both eigenvalues are unstable. Interestingly, subjects can also learn it if the system has the saddlepath property – with one stable and one unstable eigenvalue — but only if the one unstable eigenvalue is negative. We show theoretically that our results cannot be explained by homogeneous level-k models where all agents apply the same level k depth of reasoning to their choices, including the naïve learning model. However, our results can be explained by a mixed cognitive-levels model, including the adaptive learning model. We also run a horserace between many models used in the literature with the winner being a simple mixed model with levels 0, 1, and equilibrium reasoning.

Cover page of Prudence versus predation and the gains from trade

Prudence versus predation and the gains from trade


We analyze a dynamic, two-country model that highlights the various trade-offs each country faces between current consumption and competing investments in its future productive and military capacities as it prepares for a possible conflict in the future. Our focus is on the circumstances under which the effects of current trade between the two countries on the future balance of power render trade unappealing to one of them. We find that a positive probability of future conflict induces the country with less resource wealth to “prey” on the relatively more “prudent” behavior of its larger rival, and more so as conflict becomes more likely. While a shift from autarky to trade always raises the current incomes of both countries, the smaller country realizes the relatively larger income gain from trade and also devotes a relatively larger share of its income gain towards arming. Our analysis shows that the larger country rationally chooses not to trade today when the difference in initial resource wealth is sufficiently large and is more likely to prefer autarky when the probability of future conflict is higher.