Associate Professor and Director of Doctoral Programs
- School of Economics
Dr. Besedes joined the School of Economics in 2007 after spending four years as an Assistant Professor of Economics at Louisiana State University. He obtained his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 2003. His research interests include international trade and experimental/behavioral economics. His research in international trade focuses on the dynamics and stability of trading relationships between countries and factors determining duration of trade. His research in experimental and behavioral economics has focused on understanding how individuals make decisions in multi-attribute environments similar to decisions involving health insurance or drug coverage plans. Much of his experimental/behavioral economics research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. His articles have been published by the Review of Economics and Statistics, Journal of International Economics, European Economic Review, and Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization.
- Ph.D., Rutgers University
- M.A., Rutgers University
- B.S., Texas Christian University
- Behavioral Economics
- Experimental Economics
- International Trade
- ECON-2106: Prin of Microeconomics
- ECON-3110: Adv Microeconomic Analys
- ECON-4350: International Economics
- ECON-6650: International Economics
- ECON-7121: International Econ I
- ECON-7122: International Econ II
- PHIL-6000: Responsible Conduct-Res
- Economic Determinant of Multilateral Environmental Agreements
In: International Tax and Public Finance [Peer Reviewed]
We examine the economic factors that lead to the formation of multilateral environmental agreements, focusing on the likelihood a pair of countries enters into an agreement as well as the number of agreements they share using a near universe of agreements. Two countries are more likely to have an agreement and have more of them if they are economically larger and of similar economic size, closer in distance, have a preferential trade agreement, and trade more. Results are strongest for agreements involving a small number of countries, consistent with a hypothesis that agreements are formed to manage common pool resources.
- Optimizing Choice Architectures
In: Decision Analysis [Peer Reviewed]
This paper investigates decision quality in large choice sets across several choice architectures in three studies. In the first controlled experiment, we manipulate two features of a choice architecture—the response mode (for ranking alternatives) and presentation mode (for presenting alternatives). Our design objectively ranks all 16 choice options in each choice set and makes it possible to observe decision quality directly, independent of attitudes toward risk. We find joint presentation outperforms separate presentation and that choice response modes outperform “happiness ratings,” which outperform hypothetical monetary valuations. We also apply classic welfare criteria to assess the performance of the architectures. Our key finding is that low cognitive reflection subjects (as measured by the cognitive reflection test) perform better given a large choice set than given smaller sets collectively containing the same alternatives. This illustrates a basic tradeoff confronting choice architectures: for a fixed choice set, fewer options improve decision quality within that set but require architectures to elicit multiple responses, increasing opportunities for errors. One follow-up study demonstrates the robustness of the response mode result in a comparison using the tournament presentation mode. A second follow-up study reveals that the impact of incentivizing monetary valuations depends on cognitive reflection.
- "Distorted Trade Barriers: A Dissection of Trade Costs in a "Distorted Gravity" Model"
In: Review of International Economics [Peer Reviewed]
It is common in the trade literature to use iceberg transport costs to represent both tariffs and shipping costs alike. However, in models with monopolistic competition these are not identical trade restrictions. This difference is driven by how the two costs affect the extensive margin. We illustrate these differences in a gravity model. We show theoretically that trade flows are more elastic with respect to tariffs than transport costs and find a linear relationship between the elasticities with respect to tariffs, iceberg transport costs, and fixed market costs. We empirically validate these results using data on US product‐level imports.
- The Hazardous Effects of Antidumping
In: Economic Inquiry [Peer Reviewed]
We investigate the extent to which antidumping actions eliminate trade altogether. Using quarterly 10-digit HS-level export data for products involved in U.S. antidumping cases we find that antidumping actions increase the hazard rate by more than 50%. We find strong evidence of investigation effects with the impact during the initiation and preliminary duty phases considerably larger than once final duties are imposed. There are also important differences with respect to the size of duties with cases with large duties experiencing very large investigation effects. We show the antidumping (AD)-affected countries are less likely to return to the market even after the AD order is removed.
- Reducing Choice Overload without Reducing Choices
In: Review of Economics and Statistics [Peer Reviewed]
Date: October 2015
Previous studies have demonstrated that a multitude of options can lead to choice overload, reducing decision quality. Through controlled experiments, we examine sequential choice architectures that enable the choice set to remain large while potentially reducing the effect of choice overload. A specific tournament-style architecture achieves this goal. An alternate architecture in which subjects compare each subset of options to the most preferred option encountered thus far fails to improve performance due to the status quo bias. Subject preferences over different choice architectures are negatively correlated with performance, suggesting that providing choice over architectures might reduce the quality of decisions.
- Export Growth and Credit Constraints
In: European Economic Review [Peer Reviewed]
Date: August 2014
We investigate the eﬀect of credit constraints on the growth of exports at the micro level. We develop a stylized dynamic model showing credit constraints play a key role in early stages of exporting, but not in later stages. Our empirical results using product level data on exports to twelve European Union members and the U.S. support the model’s predictions: exports from more credit constrained and riskier exporters grow faster. Export growth rates decrease with duration and converge across countries. While an important force in early stages, credit constraints aﬀect export growth much less as the duration of exports increases.
- Age Effects and Heuristics in Decision Making
In: Review of Economics and Statistics [Peer Reviewed]
Date: May 2012
Using controlled experiments,weexamine howindividuals make choices when faced with multiple options. Choice tasks are designed to
mimic the selection of health insurance, prescription drug, or retirement savings plans. In our experiment, available options can be objectively ranked, allowing us to examine optimal decision making. First, the probability of a person selecting the optimal option declines as the number of options increases, with the decline being more pronounced for older subjects. Second, heuristics differ by age, with older subjects relying more on suboptimal decision rules. In a heuristics validation experiment, older subjects make worse decisions than younger subjects.
- Decision-making Strategies and Performance among Seniors
In: Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization [Peer Reviewed]
Date: February 2012
Using paper and pencil experiments administered in senior centers, we examine decision-making performance in multi-attribute decision problems. We differentiate the effects of declining cognitive performance and changing cognitive process on decision-making performance of seniors as they age. We find a significant decline in performance with age due to reduced reliance on common heuristics and increased decision-making randomness among our oldest subjects. However, we find that increasing the number of options in a decision problem increases the number of heuristics brought to the task. This challenges the choice overload view that people give up when confronted with too much choice.
- The Role of Extensive and Intensive Margins and Export Growth
In: Journal of Development Economics [Peer Reviewed]
Date: November 2011
We investigate and compare countries' export growth based on their performance at the extensive and intensive export margins. Our empirical approach ismotivated by an extension to the Melitz (2003) model of heterogeneous firms in which exporters are subject to a one-time sunk cost and also a per-period fixed cost. With imperfect information a firm may enter export markets but shortly exit when it learns its per-period fixed costs. We apply this insight to disaggregated export data and confirm that indeed most export relationships are very short lived. We then show that the survival issue is a significant factor in explaining differences in long run export performance. We find that developing countries would experience significantly higher export growth if they were able to improve their performance with respect to the two key components of the intensive margin: survival and deepening.
- Product Differentiation and Duration of US Import Trade
In: Journal of International Economics [Peer Reviewed]
Date: December 2006
We examine the extent to which product differentiation affects duration of US import trade relationships. The results are consistent with a matching model of trade formation. Using highly disaggregated product level data we estimate the hazard rate is at least 23% higher for homogeneous goods than for differentiated products. The results are not only highly robust but are often strengthened under alternative specifications. As the smallest relationships are dropped, differences across product types increase. Controlling for
potential measurement errors also results in larger differences across product types.