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Identifying Peer Effects Using Gold Rushers

Fishers pay attention to where other fishers are fishing, suggesting the potential for peer effects. But peer effects are difficult to identify without an exogenous shifter of peer group membership. We propose an identification strategy that exploits a shifter of peer group membership: gold rushes of new entrants. Following an exchange-rate-induced gold rush in an American fishery, we find that new entrants are strongly influenced by the location choices of their peers. Over-identification tests suggest that the assumptions underlying identification hold when new entrants are inexperienced but identification is lost as new entrants start to potentially influence their peers.


Facebook-to-Facebook: Online Communication and Economic Cooperation

Communication is often critical for economic cooperation and enhancement of trust. Traditionally, direct face-to-face communication has been found to be more effective than any form of indirect, mediated communication. We study whether this is still the case given that many people routinely use texting and online social media to conduct economic transactions. In our laboratory experiment, groups of participants communicate either (i) face-to-face, (ii) through the most popular online social network - Facebook, or (iii) using text messaging, before participating in a public goods or a trust game. While people talk significantly more under traditional face-to-face, discussions through Facebook and text messages prove as effective as face-to-face communication in enhancing cooperation and increasing trust. For all three media, discussions that focus on the game or use more positive emotion words are correlated with enhanced trust. It appears that young American adults are now just as adept at communicating and reducing social distance online as they are in person.



Where do Social Preferences Come From?

Where do preferences for fairness come from? We use a unique field setting to test for a spillover of sharing norms from the workplace to a laboratory experiment. Fishermen working in teams receive random income shocks (catching fish) that they must regularly divide among themselves. We demonstrate a clear correlation between sharing norms in the field and sharing norms in the lab. Furthermore, the spillover effect is stronger for fishermen who have been exposed to a sharing norm for longer, suggesting that our findings are not driven by selection effects. Our results are consistent with the hypothesis that work environments shape social preferences.


Vog: Using Volcanic Eruptions to Estimate the Health Costs of Particulates

The negative consequences of long-term exposure to particulate pollution are well-established but many studies find no effect of short-term exposure on health outcomes. The high correlation of industrial pollutant emissions complicates the estimation of the impact of individual pollutants on health. In this study, we use emissions from Kilauea volcano, which are uncorrelated with other pollution sources, to estimate the impact of pollutants on local emergency room admissions and a precise measure of costs. A one standard deviation increase in particulates leads to a 23-36% increase in expenditures on ER visits for pulmonary outcomes, mostly among the very young. Even in an area where air quality is well within the safety guidelines of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, this estimate is larger than those in the existing literature on the short-term effects of particulates. No strong effects for cardiovascular outcomes are found.

Revised: Posted August 14, 2017


Why Does Real-Time Information Reduce Energy Consumption?

A number of studies have estimated how much energy conservation is achieved by providing households with real-time information on energy use via in-home displays. However, none of these studies tell us why real-time information changes energy-use behavior. We explore the causal mechanisms through which real-time information affects energy consumption by conducting a randomized-control trial with residential households. The experiment disentangles two competing mechanisms: (i) learning about the energy consumption of various activities, the “learning effect”, versus (ii) having a constant reminder of energy use, the “saliency effect”. We have two main results. First, we find a statistically significant treatment effect from receiving real-time information. Second, we find that learning plays a more prominent role than saliency in driving energy conservation. This finding supports the use of energy conservation programs that target consumer knowledge regarding energy use.

Published version: Lynham, J., Nitta, K., Saijo, T., & Tarui, N. (n.d.). Why does real-time information reduce energy consumption? Energy Economics. http://doi.org/http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eneco.2015.11.007

Working Paper



How Have Catch Shares Been Allocated?

 A unique database was created that describes the methods used to allocate shares in nearly every major catch share fishery in the world. Approximately 54% of the major catch share fisheries in the world allocated the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) solely on the basis of historical catch records, 3% used auctions, and 6% used equal sharing rules. The remaining 37% used a combination of methods, including vessel-based rules. These results confirm the widely-held belief that nearly all catch share programs have “grandfathered” private access to fishery resources: 91% of the fisheries in the database allocated some fraction of the TAC on the basis of historical catch. This publicly available database should be a useful reference tool for policymakers, academics, and others interested in catch shares management in Hawai‘i and across the globe.

To suggest edits or additions to the database, please email lynham@hawaii.edu.

Working PaperDATA FILE (XLSX)