Fulya Y. Ersoy
PhD Candidate

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

Economics of Education (Primary)
Experimental Economics (Primary)
Behavioral Economics (Secondary)

Expected Graduation Date:
June, 2018

Curriculum Vitae

B. Douglas Bernheim (Co-primary)
Caroline Hoxby (Co-primary)
Raj Chetty

Fulya Ersoy is a PhD candidate in Economics at Stanford University. She will start her new position, tenure-track assistant professor in Economics at Loyola Marymount University, on August 2018. Her primary research interests are the economics of education and experimental economics. In particular, she is interested in understanding how students make decisions in educational setups. Her current work aims to understand the reasons behind poor academic performance of students and improve the educational outcomes of students. She holds a BA in Management from Bogazici University and an MA in Economics from Sabanci University. She spent a semester visiting Maastricht University during her undergraduate studies. She likes making sculpture and puzzles.


Effects of Perceived Productivity on Study Effort: Evidence from a Field Experiment [Slides] [Paper (Updated, Jan 24th)]

How does effort respond to the perceived relationship between effort and rewards? The answer is ambiguous since leisure and rewards can be either substitutes or complements. To answer this question, I conduct a two-part field experiment with a widely used online learning platform. For one group of students, I measure the causal relationship between effort and rewards. Then, for a second group of students, I exogenously manipulate students' beliefs about the effort-rewards relationship by assigning them to different information treatments, each of which provides factual information based on the first group. I find that students change their study effort in response to the changes in their beliefs, and the direction of the change in effort is predicted by their locus of control. In response to a decrease in the perceived effectiveness of effort, students who believe that they can compensate for adverse developments (internal locus of control) reduce their effort, while students who believe that they cannot compensate (external locus of control} do not. The result suggests that changing students' beliefs about the effort-rewards relationship can significantly influence their human capital accumulation in a heterogeneous manner.

The Effect of Peers on the Quality of Financial Decision Making - A Case of the Blind Leading the Blind? [Slides] [Paper]
(with Sandro Ambuehl, B. Douglas Bernheim and Donhatai Harris)

Often, people consult with others for advice before they make financial decisions. Previous research argues that such communication amounts to a case of the blind leading the blind. In this paper, we document that communication can be beneficial, and explore mechanisms. In our laboratory experiment, subjects make private decisions about investments involving compound interest both before and after they communicate with a randomly assigned partner. Communication not only improves decision making for the specific tasks they have sought advice about, but subjects successfully generalize these skills to novel decision problems. We find that communication is most beneficial when pair members' skills are at similar levels - the transmission of financial competence requires a common language, and is not merely a case of information flowing from those who have it to those who do not. Finally, communication leads subjects to reevaluate their privately revealed time preferences. Discount rates move towards the communication partners' rate, and do so to a larger extent if the partner is more patient. We suggest policies to improve the quality of financial decision making.

Reshaping Aspirations: The Effects of the Great Recession on College Major Choice [Paper]

College major choice is one of the most complex human capital investment problems, yet a quite important one. Making this choice even harder, not all majors are affected in the same way when a recession hits. This paper examines whether the Great Recession affects the college major choices of the students. To answer this question, I first categorize majors based on their labor market outcomes during the recession. Then, by using the synthetic controls method and by utilizing geographic variation in the severity of recession, I find that percentage of degrees awarded in majors that are less adversely affected by the recession in terms of labor market outcomes have been increased and percentage of degrees awarded in majors that are more adversely affected by the recession have been decreased in the severely affected states during the post-recession period. This finding suggests that students understand how majors are affected by the Great Recession in terms of labor market outcomes and take this information into account when choosing their majors.

The Effect of Financial Education on the Quality of Decisions involving Portfolio Allocation [Project Overview]
(with Sandro Ambuehl, B. Douglas Bernheim, Annamaria Lusardi and David B. Zuckerman)

Risk and portfolio allocation are crucial topics in household finance but these topics are hard for many people to grasp. Most people do not understand even the most basic principles concerning risk, and research shows that they bear substantial economic costs as a result. Our paper examines the effects of a financial education intervention focusing on risk and portfolio allocation by using a novel method for assessing the quality of decision making that respects each consumer's underlying tastes and focuses on mistakes arising from misconceptions about opportunities. We conduct our experiments with two different subject pools, university students and Amazon Mechanical Turk workers, and for two different types of tasks, abstract (involving decisions that are simple and designed to test certain hypotheses) and naturalistic (involving decisions that mimic realistic portfolio decisions). Although the financial education substantially increases scores on tests of knowledge concerning risk and portfolio principles, we find in both settings that it does not improve the quality of decision making.

Parking as a Loss Leader at Shopping Malls [Paper]
(with Kevin Hasker and Eren Inci, Trasportation Research Part B (2016))

This paper investigates the pricing of malls in an environment where shoppers choose between a car and public transportation in getting to a suburban mall. The mall implicitly engages in mixed bundling; it sells goods bundled with parking to shoppers who come by car, and only goods to shoppers who come by public transportation. There are external costs of discomfort in public transportation due to crowdedness. Thus, shoppers using public transportation crowd out each other. The mall internalizes these external costs, much like a policy maker. To do so, it raises the sales price of the good and sets a parking fee less than parking's marginal cost. Hence, parking is always a loss leader. Surprisingly, this pricing scheme is not necessarily distortionary.

Blog Posts

The Impact of Free on Consumer Decision-Making

Does Improving Financial Literacy Lead To Better Decisions?