Best vs. All: Equity and Accuracy of Standardized Test Score Reporting (with Sampath Kannan, Aaron Roth, and Rakesh Vohra

FAccT'22: 2022 ACM Conference on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency,  574–586 

This paper emphasizes a source of unfairness that arises from the fact that some — but not all — applicants have the resources to take standardized tests multiple times. We find that, compared to super-scoring, requiring that all scores be reported results in superior equilibrium outcomes in admission accuracy and in equity across populations. This is the case even though the more highly resourced students can at their option either report a more accurate signal of their type, or pool with the lower resourced population under this policy. The study represents an unusual situation where the goals of accuracy and equity are in alignment.

Working Papers

I propose a model of expectation management to study how an interactive environment breeds and perpetuates a certain type of misperception. This paper provides a novel approach to incentivize effort (perception manipulation), complementary to the usual monetary or informational incentives studied in principal-agent theory. It endogenizes model misspecification in the literature of misspecified learning in a principal-agent framework and can be applied to a wide range of interactions such as mentor-mentee, parent-child, self-manipulation, and emotional abuse in professional or intimate relationships.

2. Procrastination and Commitment [2nd Job Market Paper]

I propose a tractable model of procrastination. I show that behavioral frictions (i.e., present bias and naivete) and task frictions (i.e., a heavy workload or a close deadline) reinforce each other in affecting the agent’s welfare. Furthermore, for a present-biased agent, although full commitment can strictly enhance welfare, limited commitment in the sense that the agent cannot always commit her actions when she gets to make a move — is nevertheless harmful.

3. Signaling Design (with Matteo Camboni, Mallesh M. Pai, and Rakesh Vohra; draft coming soon!)

We revisit the classic Spence's job-market signaling model and endogenize the signaling options available to job candidates by studying choices of profit-seeking signaling intermediaries.  Intermediaries simultaneously choose a signaling policy, comprising a fee and a signal structure. We find that competition among signaling intermediaries leads to (1) a shift in the social surplus from intermediaries to employees; and (2) efficiency loss induced by a higher effort to separate abilities. Our findings temper the prevailing argument that competition should be promoted to enhance social efficiency.

4. Multilateral War of Attrition with Majority Rule (with Hülya Eraslan and Kirill S. Evdokimov)

In multilateral bargaining with majority rule, a reputation for being stubborn can harm the player's chances of being included in the first place. In this paper, we study a three-player concession game in which only two players, including a veto player (the chair), are needed to reach an agreement on how to split a unit of surplus. In contrast to the bilateral case, delay equilibria are less likely to occur; however, conditional on delay, the chair may be worse off when bargaining with two players instead of only one player.

Work in Progress

How does present bias affect households' refinancing decisions? We first characterize the closed-form solution of the optimal refinancing threshold for present-biased households, and then use the data of U.S. mortgage refinance choices and matched household demographics to explain refinancing inaction that was not captured well in classic models.

A principal needs to delegate information collection to agents, and agents differ in their privately known ability of information acquisition. What is the optimal approval mechanism for the principal to make the right decision? Is it better to let the principal specify the information collection regime (e.g., when to report)  or allow the agent, who has the information advantage, to have the discretion?

How to incorporate the notion of Zero-Knowledge Proof (ZKP) in cryptography into economics? Loosely speaking, ZKP requires the interactions between a prover and a verifier that yield no extra information other than the validation of the claim. It guarantees data privacy and information safety in a decentralized economic system, especially with the technology of blockchain.