Blake Barton
Job Market Candidate

Stanford University
Department of Economics
579 Serra Mall
Stanford, CA 94305

Curriculum Vitae

Behavioral Economics, Experimental Economics, Microeconomics
Expected Graduation Date:
June, 2015

Thesis Committee:
Douglas Bernheim (Primary):

Muriel Niederle:

Matthew O. Jackson:

Charles Sprenger:


Interpersonal Time Inconsistency and Commitment (Job Market Paper)
Recent experimental studies have found that time inconsistency exists within effort or unpleasant tasks when a subject is deciding between sooner and later effort for herself. However, there has been little study of how a subject's time inconsistency translates into a setting involving others. In this paper, we study time inconsistency when a subject makes individual decisions for herself and a partner. Consistent with the literature, a subject displays present bias when making a decision between sooner and later effort for herself. However, when a subject is allocating between sooner and later effort for her partner she exhibits no significant time inconsistency. Most surprisingly, when deciding how to allocate sooner tasks for herself and later tasks for a partner, the subject demonstrates future bias. Our findings have implications on how subjects view decisions by and make decisions for others. It also provides a potential non-market solution for an individual's own time inconsistency using personal relations.

When Fairness isn't Fair: Sophisticated Time Inconsistency in Social Preferences (with Jim Andreoni, Deniz Aydin, B. Douglas Bernheim, and Jeffrey Naecker)
Draft completed, Collecting Data for Robustness Checks
How do people think about fairness in settings with uncertainty? One view holds that fairness requires equality of opportunity; another holds that it requires equality of outcomes. Relative to the resolution of uncertainty, the first view takes an ex ante perspective, while the second takes an ex post perspective. In this paper, we conduct a laboratory experiment designed to determine which perspective people adopt, and under what conditions. We find that most people view fairness from an ex ante perspective when making decisions ex ante, and from an ex post perspective when making decisions ex post. As a result, they exhibit the hallmark of time-inconsistency: after making an initial plan (ex ante all uncertainty) that is fully state-contingent, they revise it upon learning that certain states will not occur (that is, ex post the resolution of some uncertainty, and ex ante the resolution of residual uncertainty). These patterns are robust and persist even when people are aware of their proclivities. Indeed, subjects who switch from ex ante fair to ex post fair choices, and who are aware of this proclivity, generally avoid precommitments and intentionally retain the flexibility to manifest time inconsistency. We argue that these patterns are best explained by a theory of myopic fairness.

We Aim to Please: Work Effort and the Desire to Meet Stated Expectations (with Deniz Aydin, B. Douglas Bernheim, and Christine Exley)
Data Collected, Draft in Progress