Associate Professor and Director of Graduate 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
- Reducing Choice Overload without Reducing Choices
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
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.
- Effort and Performance: What Distinguishes Interacting and Non-interacting Groups from Individuals?
We study how group membership affects behavior both when group members can and cannot interact with each other. Our goal is to isolate the contrasting forces that spring from group membership: a free-riding incentive leading to reduced effort and a sense of social responsibility that increases effort. In an environment with varying task difficulty and individual decision making as the benchmark, we show that the free-riding effect is stronger. Group members significantly reduce their effort in situations where they share the outcome but are unable to communicate. When group members share outcomes and can interact, they outperform groups without communication and individuals. We show that these groups do as well as the best constituent member would have done on her own.
- The Role of NAFTA and Returns to Scale in Export Duration
While exports within NAFTA face a lower hazard of ceasing, its onset has increased the hazard for Mexican and U.S. intra NAFTA exports. Intra NAFTA exports still enjoy a lower hazard relative to exports to non–members. While NAFTA did aﬀect the hazard for Canada’s exports in the short run, its eﬀect on Mexican and U.S. exports is persistent. Exports of IRS manufacturing products face the highest hazard in the case of Canada and Mexico, while IRS natural resource products have the highest hazard for Mexico. The eﬀect of NAFTA on the returns to scale product types is exporter speciﬁc.
- Age Effects and Heuristics in Decision Making
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
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
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
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.