Fall 2021

November 12
Filley Hall 210

Alexandra Hill

Colorado State University

Haste Makes Waste: Evidence on Speed and Quality Trade-offs in the Workplace

Abstract Understanding the determinants of labor productivity is central to economics, but empirical work often considers a single aspect of productivity – speed. This paper asks whether focusing on speed misses spillovers to quality. Using novel high frequency data on the speed and quality of strawberry harvesters, we find evidence to support the old adage that haste makes waste: increases in worker speed are accompanied with decreases in the quality of their work. We find that peer speed and wage changes increase worker speed and decrease output quality; mechanisms that increase speed by ten percent cause quality to fall by 1.5 to 1.7 percent.


Spring 2020

January 24
Filley Hall 210

Mariah Ehmke

University of Wyoming

Parental Economic Behavior and Immunization Hesitancy in Rural Wyoming

Abstract  Over the last twenty years, risks associated with preventable communicable diseases have risen due to parental immunization hesitancy. Research on causes and consequences of immunization hesitancy tends to focus on traditional public health analysis of urban communities. This research is unique as it applies economic analysis, especially behavioral economic analysis, to parents’ immunization decisions in rural communities of the Intermountain West. The objective of the research is to measure the role of parental economic behavior in child immunization outcomes. The data were collected using economic experiments and a questionnaire administered to 198 parents. Preliminary findings indicate increasing risk aversion is associated with greater DTaP utilization. Other measures of economic behavior not significant. Further, findings indicate participants’ decisions are influenced by family and social relationships more than physician and institutional advice. The results suggest strategies to encourage herd immunity in rural areas of Wyoming need to target parents with risk-seeking behavior via social networks.

February 21
Filley Hall 210

Aaron Smith

University of California, Davis

Food vs. Fuel? Impacts of the North Dakota oil boom on agricultural prices

Abstract Farmers and politicians in North Dakota and nearby states claim dramatic increases in shipments of crude oil by rail in 2013-14 caused service delays and higher costs.  We investigate these claims accounting for other potential sources of rail congestion.  We show that grain price spreads between the market hub and regional elevators expanded significantly when crude oil shipments increased. However, the incidence of those effects was borne mostly by buyers paying higher prices at the hub, rather than farmers receiving lower prices. The effects differ by the type of grain being transported.  Wheat markets were affected much more than corn and soybeans, most likely because shipping delays were more costly for wheat than corn and soybeans. When rail capacity is scarce, railroads use railcar auctions to price discriminate over the time sensitivity of a shipment.

March 20
Filley Hall 210

Tanya Rosenblat

University of Michigan

Past Seminars