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Newsletter 8: Feb 01, 2010

We encourage you to submit papers at any stage of progress, including recently published work that you would like your colleagues to be aware of via the “Working Paper of the Week” section.


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Upcoming seminars of potential interest at Columbia


Monday, Feb. 1


2.40-4.00, Schermerhorn 200C (Psych Dept Social Snack)

Shahzeen Attari (Columbia/Center for Research on Environmental Decisions)

“Human behavior and climate change: Preferences for change and perceptions of energy consumption.”

iCal (to add this event to your calendar)


2.30-4.00, IAB 1027 (Economic Theory Workshop)

Helios Herrera (Columbia/SIPA)

“Biased Social Learning”

iCal (to add this event to your calendar)



Tuesday, Feb. 2


12.30-1.45, Uris 307 (Marketing Division Seminar)

Scott Neslin (Dartmouth)

Title TBA

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Upcoming seminars of potential interest at NYU


Tuesday, Feb. 2


2.30-3.30, Room 517, 19 West 4th St. (Neuroeconomics seminar)

David Cesarini (MIT)      

“A Genome Wide Association Study of Educational Attainment”

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Weblink of the week


Why do the Chinese save so much?

Perhaps because the large imbalance between male and female children (currently 122 boys born for every 100 girls) causes families to reduce current consumption to increase the future wealth, and hence status and marriage prospects, of their (only) son.



The economics of child soldiering

Why do some rebel groups recruit children while others do not?  Why do some coerce while others reward?  A Professor of Political Science & Ecnomics at Yale offers some answers.



Working paper of the week


On Blame-freeness and Reciprocity: An Experimental Study

Mariana Blanco (Universidad del Rosario), Bogaçhan Çelen (Columbia University), and Andrew Schotter (New York University)


Abstract: The theory of reciprocity is predicated on the assumption that people are willing to reward nice or kind acts and to punish unkind ones. This assumption raises the question as to how to define kindness. In this paper we offer a new definition of kindness that we call “blame-freeness.” Put most simply, blame-freeness states that in judging whether player i has been kind or unkind to player j in a social situation, player j would have to put himself in the strategic position of player i, while retaining his preferences, and ask if he would have acted in a manner that was worse than i did under identical circumstances. If j would have acted in a more unkind manner than i acted, then we say that j does not blame i for his behavior. If, however, j would have been nicer than i was, then we say that “ j blames i” for his actions (i’s actions were blameworthy). We consider this notion a natural, intuitive and empirically relevant way to explain the motives of people engaged in reciprocal behavior. After developing the conceptual framework, we then test this concept in a laboratory experiment involving tournaments and find significant support for the theory.