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Essays in applied microeconomics

Pinna, Fabio (2014) Essays in applied microeconomics. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis is composed by three essays and applies econometric methods to analyze different economic research questions using microeconomic data. The first essay (chapter 2) analyzes consumer searching behavior in a grocery context. The second essay (chapter 3) studies the implications of the introduction of a bonus scheme in a principal-agent context using data from furniture sales. The third essay (chapter 4) proposes an empirical strategy to estimate the impact that a worsening in banks’ wholesale funding opportunities (such as the Italian sovereign debt crisis of 2011) has on borrowers’ ability to repay their loans. Chapter 5 concludes the thesis and provides some directions for future work. The first essay (chapter 2), written jointly with Stephan Seiler, estimates the effect of time spent searching in a supermarket on consumers’ expenditure. The analysis is implemented using a unique data-set obtained from radio frequency identification tags which are attached to supermarket shopping carts. This allows us to record consumers’ purchases as well as the time they spent in front of the shelf when contemplating which product to buy, giving us a direct measure of search effort. We estimate the effect of extending search on the price consumers pay within a category while controlling for a host of confounding factors such as category-level price variation over time and measurement error. Our results show that an additional minute spent searching lowers category-level expenditure by $1.40. Extending search-time by one standard deviation allows consumers to appropriate 8 percent of the possible category-level price savings. The second essay (chapter 3) uses data on the staff of a furniture firm to show that, when a fixed bonus scheme conditional on revenues was introduced, it increased the revenues generated by all sales employees, but I find no significant heterogeneous effect of the bonus scheme depending on whether the employee is given control over price or not. The essay also shows that giving the sales staff control over price does not significantly increase revenues. The effect of the bonus scheme and of price delegation on gross profits minus paid bonuses, commissions, and wages were similar. These results are robust to a number of checks, and are consistent with a model of moral hazard and price delegation. The effect of the bonus scheme and of price delegation on gross profits minus paid bonuses, commissions, and wages were similar. These results are robust to a number of checks, and are consistent with a model of moral hazard and price delegation. Chapter 5 concludes and discusses the limitations of the current work and provides some directions for future research.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Fabio Pinna
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HB Economic Theory
Sets: Departments > Economics
Supervisor: Michaels, Guy and Van Reenen, John
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/930

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