Can Gender-Blind Algorithmic Pricing Eliminate the Gender Gap? (Job Market Paper)
Winner of CESifo Distinguished Affiliate Award
Best Paper Award at Discrimination and Diversity Workshop
Media coverage: WalletHub
Insurance companies frequently use consumer attributes, such as gender or age, when setting a price for their services. Young male drivers, for example, are often charged more than young females for car insurance, as they are expected to be riskier. In 2019, California banned auto insurance companies from using information on gender in their pricing algorithms. I study how this ban affects the gender gap in prices, using a difference-in-differences strategy with older individuals and other states as control groups. I find that the ban reduced the gender gap in the insurance premiums paid by young drivers by around 65 percent, but it failed to eliminate it completely. My analysis of the pricing algorithm of a large insurance company in California indicates that algorithms are adjusted in a way that gender proxies receive larger weights after the policy. For instance, drivers using specific car models associated with young males were charged up to 22 percent more after the ban. My findings illustrate the limitations of anti-discrimination policies that impose group-blind pricing, with implications for the design of fairer algorithmic regulations.
European Economic Association (EEA) Meeting, Milan; European Association of Labor Economists (EALE) Meeting, Padova; ACM Conference on Economics and Computation (EC '22); Virtual, ACM Conference on Equity and Access in Algorithms, Mechanisms, and Optimization (EAAMO '22), Washington DC; CESifo Area Conference in Economics of Digitization, Munich; CESifo Workshop in Digital Economics, Munich; Annual Conference of the European Association for Research in Industrial Organization*, Vienna; Royal Economic Society Junior Symposium, Virtual; Discrimination and Diversity Workshop, Virtual; Applied Young Economists Webinar (AYEW)*, Virtual; Economic and Social Research Council DTP Annual Conference, Virtual; Newcastle Economics Research and Development Conference, Virtual; Scottish Economic Society Annual Conference, Glasgow
Reducing Discrimination with Information: Evidence from Online Freelancing Platforms
Freelancing platforms connecting millions of employers and freelancers worldwide have become enormously popular. These online platforms enable workers to supply their labor easily by reducing transaction and search costs. Although online platforms reduce certain costs by making global labor markets more accessible, some information asymmetries persist. Such informational frictions may disadvantage freelancers from developing countries, particularly when employers are from high-income countries. In this paper, I study the wage gap between freelancers from high-income and developing countries in an online freelancing platform and explain the mechanisms driving this gap. I find that freelancers from developing countries earn 22 percent less than freelancers from high-income countries after controlling for the job and country-specific characteristics. However, the penalty on wages decreases as contractors provide information about themselves over time. Experience, reputation scores, and more information on previous earnings or standardized test scores benefit freelancers from developing countries more. My findings have implications for the role of information in achieving fairer outcomes in digital platforms.
Hybrid vs. In-person: How Does Online Access to Lectures Affect Student Success? (with Manuel Bagues)
Online education technologies are becoming increasingly popular in higher education. One widely used method is recording lectures during face-to-face classes. Access to online lectures allows students to review the content, whereas knowing that the lecture recordings will be available online can decrease incentives to attend classes. Besides, lecture recordings can have heterogeneous impacts on specific groups of students. It can be helpful as a revision tool, particularly for non-native English speakers. In that sense, the overall effect of online education in the hybrid setting is not easy to predict. This paper studies the impact of online access to recorded lectures on student performance, attendance, and satisfaction. I use a difference-in-differences strategy by exploiting the staggered implementation of the recorded lecture system in different courses in a top UK university. I find that (i) online lectures decrease the performance gap between native and non-native speakers significantly, (ii) they increase the achievement of high-performer students and decrease it for low-performers and (iii) they reduce attendance to the main lectures and have no statistically significant impact on student satisfaction. My findings have significant implications for designing policies on access to distance learning technologies and overcoming learning disparities across different groups.
Work in Progress:
Do Online Food Delivery Platforms Help or Harm Restaurant Businesses?