Benjamin Golub

Harvard University
Littauer Center, 308
1805 Cambridge Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: Harvard University

NBER Working Papers and Publications

October 2018Signaling, Shame, and Silence in Social Learning
with Arun G. Chandrasekhar, He Yang: w25169
We examine how a social stigma of seeking information can inhibit learning. Consider a Seeker of uncertain ability who can learn about a task from an Advisor. If higher-ability Seekers need information less, then a Seeker concerned about reputation may refrain from asking to avoid signaling low ability. Separately, low-ability individuals may feel inhibited even if their ability is known and there is nothing to signal, an effect we term shame. Signaling and shame constitute an overall stigma of seeking information. We distinguish between the constituent parts of stigma in a simple model and then perform an experiment with treatments designed to detect both effects. Seekers have three days to retrieve information from paired Advisors in a field setting. The first arm varies whether needin...
June 2018When Less is More: Experimental Evidence on Information Delivery During India's Demonetization
with Abhijit Banerjee, Emily Breza, Arun G. Chandrasekhar: w24679
How should policymakers disseminate information: by broadcasting it widely (e.g., via mass media), or letting word spread from a small number of initially informed “seed” individuals? While conventional wisdom suggests delivering information more widely is better, we show theoretically and experimentally that this may not hold when people need to ask questions to fully comprehend the information they were given. In a field experiment during the chaotic 2016 Indian demonetization, we varied how information about demonetization’s official rules was delivered to villages on two dimensions: how many were initially informed (broadcasting versus seeding) and whether the identity of the initially informed was publicly disclosed (common knowledge). The quality of information aggregation is measure...

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