On Monday, November 23 2020, 16:00 - 17:30, Natalia Bulla (University of Duisburg-Essen) and Irene Mussio (Newcastle University School of Business) will present:
The Effects of Acute Stress on Risk and Time Preferences. Can Mindfulness Meditation Help?
Stress influences decision-making processes and is one of the drivers of changes in economic preferences. Many techniques have been suggested to tackle stress, ranging from exercising to medical counselling. One of the novel techniques is mindfulness meditation, which aims to put the focus of the individual on the present moment and should be able to help manage stress. With this in mind, we investigate whether stress impacts individual risk and time preferences, and whether a brief mindfulness breathing exercise affects preferences as well. We conduct a controlled laboratory experiment with a student subject pool. We aim to reduce the level of individual stress with a mindfulness meditation task, while increasing stress via a cognitive load task. As a measure of stress, we track participants' heart rates in a continuous manner during the experimental session. Our preliminary results show that a brief mindfulness task reduces the average heart rate for participants who were exposed to stress by 3.8% and those who were not by 3.4%. So far, we do not find effects of the brief mindfulness breathing exercise on risk and time preferences.
Room: Due to the current situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, the talk will be held in a virtual seminar room. For more information click here.
Abstract: I analyze the relationship between state‐level economic shocks and suicides using historical US gold discoveries (1840‐1860) as a large unexpected economic shock. Gold discoveries were an unexpected and large economic shock of up to 3.5% of GDP. They provide as good as random variation to the local economy, that I use to estimate the effect of economic changes on suicides. Comprehensive mortality data by state and year does not exist for the US for 1840 to 1860. I thus make use of web scraped data from a newspaper archive and use suicide mentions per 100,000 pages as a proxy for suicides. Results show that overall gold discoveries are linked with a clear reduction in newspaper suicide mentions. The results indicate that an economic shock changes the suicide rate by one for every $136,659 to $251,145. This is estimate implies a higher cost‐effectiveness than previous research but is still seven to fourteen times the size of modern, cost‐effective suicide prevention method.
Abstract: One quarter of married, fertile‐age women in Sub‐Saharan Africa report not wanting a pregnancy and yet do not use contraceptives. To study this issue, we collect detailed data on women’s subjective probabilistic beliefs and estimate a structural model of contraceptive choices. Our results indicate that costly interventions like eliminating supply constraints would only modestly increase contraceptive use. Alternatively, increasing partners’ approval of methods, aligning partners’ fertility preferences with women’s beliefs about pregnancy risk absent contraception have the potential to increase use considerably. Results from a before/after experiment testing this last finding are highly consistent with the structural estimates.