Kevin Lewis

February 13, 2020

Professional Interactions and Hiring Decisions: Evidence from the Federal Judiciary
Marco Battaglini, Jorgen Harris & Eleonora Patacchini
NBER Working Paper, January 2020


We examine the effect of hearing cases alongside female judicial colleagues on the probability that a federal judge hires a female law clerk. Federal judges are assigned to cases and to judicial panels at random and have few limitations on their choices of law clerks: these two features make the federal court system a unique environment in which to study the effect of professional interactions and beliefs in organizations. We constructed a unique dataset by aggregating federal case records from 2007-2017 to collect information on federal judicial panels, and by merging this data with judicial hiring information from the Judicial Yellow Book, a directory of federal judges and clerks. We find that a one standard deviation increase in the fraction of co-panelists who are female increases a judge’s likelihood of hiring a female clerk by 4 percentage points. This finding suggests that increases in the diversity of the upper rungs of a profession can shift attitudes in a way that creates opportunities at the entry level of a profession.

Differences In Starting Pay For Male And Female Physicians Persist; Explanations For The Gender Gap Remain Elusive
Anthony Lo Sasso et al.
Health Affairs, February 2020, Pages 256-263


A large literature has documented differences in salary between male and female physicians. While few observers doubt that women earn less, on average, than men do, the extent to which certain factors contribute to the salary difference remains a topic of considerable debate. Using ordinary least squares regression and Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition models for new physicians who accepted positions in patient care for the years 1999–2017, we examined how the gender gap in total starting pay evolved and the extent to which preferences in work-life balance factors affect the gap. We found that the physician earnings gap between men and women persisted over the study period. Interestingly, despite important gender differences in preferences for control over work-life balance, such factors had virtually no ability to explain the gender difference in salary. The implication is that there remain unmeasured factors that result in a large pay gap between men and women.

In-Group Bias and the Police: Evidence from Award Nominations
Nayoung Rim, Roman Rivera & Bocar Ba
University of Pennsylvania Working Paper, October 2019


This paper examines the impact of in-group bias on the internal dynamics of a police department. Prior studies have documented racial bias in policing, but little is known about bias against officers due to lack of available data. We construct a novel panel dataset of Chicago Police Department officers, with detailed information on officer characteristics and work productivity. Exploiting quasi-random variation in supervisor assignment, we find that white supervisors are less likely to nominate black officers than white or Hispanic officers. We find weaker evidence that male supervisors are less likely to nominate female officers than male officers. We explore several theories of discrimination that can explain our main findings. Requiring interaction between supervisors and officers reduces the minority nomination gap, but white supervisors still exhibit in-group favoritism. Our findings suggest departments should focus on policies that address in-group bias due to its effect on career advancement.

Does the Stock Market Fully Value Inventor Diversity? Gender and Ethnic Diversity among Inventors and Stock Returns
Shagun Pant & Jue Wang
University of Iowa Working Paper, November 2019


We find that firms with diverse inventors have significantly superior stock returns than firms with more homogeneous inventors. Specifically, we analyze the relationship between gender and ethnic diversity of firm inventors, inventor diversity (ID), and future stock returns. A long-short value-weighted portfolio of firms, ranked on ID, earned a four-factor alpha of 4.32% per year. The results are robust to controlling for known risk factors, firm characteristics, industry dummies, and weighting methodologies. The evidence suggests that the market does not fully price inventor diversity. Inventor diversity is also positively associated with future operating performance and future innovation. Consistent with the mispricing hypothesis, we find that the ID-return predictive power is stronger for firms with low investor attention, high valuation uncertainty, and for firms in industries with more competition for products, innovation, or labor. We also find that firms with greater ID are associated with larger future earnings surprises and higher cumulative abnormal returns around subsequent earnings announcements. Our results highlight the importance of inventor diversity for firms and have important implications for regulators and investors as we document that the market underreacts to inventor diversity.

The Role of Referrals in Inequality, Immobility, and Inefficiency in Labor Markets
Lukas Bolte, Nicole Immorlica & Matthew Jackson
Stanford Working Paper, January 2020


Labor markets rely on a combination of referrals and open applications in hiring. Referrals help screen candidates and so lead to better matches and increased productivity; but also give referred workers a relative advantage, and hence can lead to inequality. We examine how these different sources of hiring interact, and how that interaction determines inequality within a generation, immobility across generations, as well as the overall productivity of a society. We show that open applicants suffer from a “lemons” effect: some are applying after being rejected for jobs via their referrals. This lemons effect lowers the value of hiring through open applications and makes referred candidates look even relatively more attractive, further disadvantaging applicants without referrals. As a result, inequality in referrals, due to historic employment rates or imbalances in referral rates across groups, ties fates together across a group’s generations resulting in immobility as well as inequality within a generation. Concentrating referrals among a subpopulation can also lower productivity. We show how these all interact, and identify the different conditions under which concentrating referrals among some group raises inequality, immobility, and/or lowers productivity. We show how characterizing these effects depends on understanding the lemons effect, and also examine extensions of the model that include the possibility of firing workers, as well education choices by workers.

The Demand for Interns
David Jaeger et al.
NBER Working Paper, February 2020


We describe the demand for interns in the U.S. using ads from an internship-specific website. We find that internships are more likely to be paid when more closely associated with a specific occupation, when the local labor market has lower unemployment, and when the local and federal minimum wage are the same. A résumé audit study with more than 11,500 applications reveals that employers are more likely to respond positively when internship applicants have previous internship experience. Employers are also less likely to respond to applicants with black-sounding names and when the applicant is more distant from the firm.

The intersectionality of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status on social and emotional skills
Yi-Lung Kuo et al.
Journal of Research in Personality, forthcoming


The intersectionality of race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status (SES) in predicting social and emotional (SE) skills was examined for 81,950 6th–8th graders. At low levels of SES, White students tended to have the lower SE scores. However, as SES increased, they tended to have higher scores relative to minority groups. Across SES levels, Asian students showed higher Academic Discipline and Self-Regulation scores. The SES and SE skill relationship was less pronounced for underserved minority groups. This may be among the first reports where a measure of SE skills has documented different relationships with SES as a function of race/ethnicity. Possible explanations for these findings, as well as implications for designing culturally responsive programs that focus on SE skills, are discussed.

The stress-relieving benefits of positively experienced social sexual behavior in the workplace
Leah Sheppard et al.
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, January 2020, Pages 38-52


The current research examines the understudied consequences of non-harassing social sexual behavior in the workplace. In a programmatic series of studies, we argue and test the proposition that being the recipient of enjoyed social sexual behavior can provide psychosocial resources (such as feeling powerful, socially connected, and physically attractive) that protect recipients from stress and its negative outcomes. In Study 1, we develop and validate a measure of non-harassing social sexual behavior that is conceptually and empirically distinct from sexual harassment and is positively correlated with daily resource accumulation. We also uncover two distinct forms of social sexual behavior: flirtation and sexual storytelling. In Study 2, we use time-lagged data to demonstrate that the frequency of receiving flirtation at work is more positively related to psychosocial resource accumulation to the extent that it is enjoyed, and the resulting resources predict lower levels of stress. Finally, in Study 3, we use multi-source data to demonstrate that enjoyed flirtation buffers the relationship between workplace injustice and the stress-related outcomes of job tension and insomnia.

Ask and You Shall Receive? Gender Differences in Regrades in College
Cher Hsuehhsiang Li & Basit Zafar
NBER Working Paper, January 2020


Using administrative data from a large 4-year public university, we show that male students are 18.6 percent more likely than female students to receive favorable grade changes initiated by instructors. These gender differences cannot be explained by observable characteristics of the students, instructors, and the classes. To understand the mechanisms underlying these gendered outcomes, we conduct surveys of students and instructors, which reveal that regrade requests are prevalent, and that male students are more likely than female students to ask for regrades on the intensive margin. Finally, we corroborate the gender differences in regrade requests in an incentivized controlled experiment where participants receive noisy signals of their performance, and where they can ask for regrades: we find that males have a higher willingness to pay (WTP) to ask for regrades. Because students' payoff depends on their final grade and the cost of regrades, male students' higher propensity to ask for regrades makes them financially better off only when the cost is low. Males are more likely than females to become financially worse off when the regrade cost is high. Almost half of the gender difference in the WTP is due to gender differences in confidence, uncertainty in beliefs about ability, and the Big Five personality traits.

Daycare Choice and Ethnic Diversity: Evidence from a Randomized Survey
Mongoljin Batsaikhan et al.
Georgetown University Working Paper, December 2019


Discrimination among individuals is very well documented in the literature, but much less is known about how discrimination is passed down through generations. By designing and conducting a randomized survey to study daycare choices and ethnic diversity, we provide evidence of how biases against ethnic minorities affect parental choices of early childhood education. We asked parents in Copenhagen to choose between two daycares — structured vs. free-play. Each daycare had testimonials from (fictive) parents whose child allegedly attended the daycare, and the survey randomized the names of the testifying parents across the sample. Another novelty of our study is that we are able to capture how discriminatory attitudes towards ethnic minorities interact with preferences for specific teaching styles. In our results we find bias against ethnic minorities among parents who prefer the structured daycare. We validate our results through data on willingness to travel to the preferred daycare, which is higher for parents who prefer the structured daycare when there was an ethnic minority name associated with the free-play daycare.

The impact of race relations on NFL attendance: An econometric analysis
Nicholas Masafumi Watanabe & George Cunningham
PLoS ONE, January 2020


Recent protests by athletes focused on raising awareness of social issues and injustices, such as the Black Lives Matter protests led by Colin Kaepernick of the National Football League’s San Francisco 49ers, have generated a great deal of attention and debate within society. Notably, the protests conducted by these players before games in the 2016 and 2017 seasons became such a sensational topic, that extraordinary amounts of attention was paid to it by the media, consumers, and even politicians who often denounced the players as being unpatriotic. Against this backdrop, the current research examines whether fluctuations in attendance at National Football League games are associated with explicit attitudes towards race, implicit racial prejudice, and racial animus within a population. Specifically, using multiple measures of racial attitudes as part of an econometric model estimating attendance at games, the results suggest that having a higher level of implicit bias in a market leads to a decline in consumer interest in attending games. Additionally, using interaction effects, it is found that while protests generally reduced the negative effects of implicit bias on attendance, markets with lower levels of implicit bias actually had greater declines of attendance during the protests. From this, the current study advances the understanding of racial attitudes and racial animus, and its impact on consumer behavior at the regional level. That is, this research highlights that racial sentiments in a local market were able to predict changes in market behaviors, suggesting that race relations can have wide reaching impacts.


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