Research (click titles for abstracts & download links)


Seller Curation in Platforms 


International Journal of Industrial Organization (2020)

Market platforms must decide how much effort to put into screening out low-quality sellers. Increasing quality of the sellers on a market increases consumer confidence and participation, but other factors may reduce the incentive to screen. This article explores why market platforms do not screen out low-quality sellers when screening costs are minimal. Consumers must search for a seller whose product is a good match. The presence of low-quality sellers reduces search intensity, softening competition between sellers, increasing equilibrium price and hence the platform’s revenue per sale. If sellers compete with sufficient intensity then the platform admits some low-quality sellers. This might initially seem contradictory to the practice of platform recommendations, but recommending a high-quality seller and search obfuscation are complementary strategies. The low-quality sellers enable the recommended seller to attract many consumers at a high price and the effect of the recommendation is strengthened as low-quality sellers become more adept at imitating high-quality sellers.

Learning While Shopping: An Experimental Investigation Into the Effect of Learning on Recall in Consumer Search


Experimental Economics (2020)

In many search environments, searchers are learning about the distribution of offers in the market. I conduct an experiment exploring a broad class of search problems with learning about the distribution of payoffs. My results support the prediction that learning results in declining reservation values, providing evidence that learning may be an explanation for recall. Theory predicts a “one step” reservation value strategy, but many subjects instead choose to set a high reservation value in order to learn about the distribution before adjusting based on their observations. Under-searching in search experiments may stem from a reinforcement heuristic and lack of negative feedback after using sub-optimal strategies.

How Much Does Schooling Disutility Matter?


Research in Economics (2020)

with Guanyi Yang

We show that adding a disutility term in education choice models is equivalent to assuming a relationship between wealth, risk, and education decisions. Utility gains from education are increasing in the riskiness of future consumption, implying that a riskier environment will lead agents to choose human capital investment options which maximize future income. If the degree of risk increases heterogeneously across human capital investment options, then risk aversion and the precautionary savings motive can compound or negate each other depending which option has a greater increase in risk.

Working Papers

Content-hosting platforms: discovery, membership, or both?


with Tat-How Teh

We propose a model that classifies platforms in the so-called “creator economy”, such as Youtube, Patreon, TikTok, and Twitch, into three broad business models: pure discovery mode (provides recommendations to help viewers to discover creators); pure membership mode (enables individual creators to monetize their viewers directly); and hybrid mode that combines both. Creators respond to platforms’ decisions by individually choosing to supply content designed along a niche-broad spectrum, which involves a trade-off between viewership size and per-viewer revenue. Such endogenous responses create a link between two sources of platform revenue (advertising and transaction commission). Compared to the pure modes, the hybrid mode can lead to negative spillovers across the two sources of platform revenue so that it is not necessarily more profitable. In the case of competing platforms, incentives to avoid the negative spillovers from competition in transaction commissions to advertising revenue results in platforms choosing different equilibrium business models.

Permanently (probably) Working Papers

Media Provision With Outsourced Content Production



Online Appendix

I use a model with a platform facilitating interaction between consumers, advertisers, and content creators to explore the effects of introducing a subscription which allows consumers to avoid ads. The subscription increases provision of niche content, but increased advertising and a high subscription price may reduce the welfare of consumers who enjoy mass market content. The effect on total welfare depends on how much the platform increases payments to content creators as a result of the subscription.

Going the Last Mile: Access Regulation and Vertical Integration



In many markets entry requires a significant infrastructure investment which can lead to inefficiently low competition and even monopolies in many cases. One solution adopted by many countries is to require the owner of this infrastructure to allow competitors to rent access at a regulated price. In this case the network owner becomes a wholesale provider of infrastructure services who is also participating in the retail market. Another solution is to separate the network owner into a wholesale firm and a vertically separate retail firm. This paper compares infrastructure quality investment incentives for the network owner under these two regimes. Retail prices will be higher under the vertically separated regime, meaning that quality investment will attract more consumers with a separated firm, but the ability to participate on the retail market in addition to the heavily regulated wholesale market means that a vertically integrated owner will have more incentive to invest when there is significant horizontal differentiation between retail firms.