Are chess players worse when playing remote?

During the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional (offline) chess tournaments were prohibited and instead held online. We exploit this unique setting to assess the impact of remote work policies on the cognitive performance of individuals. Using the artificial intelligence embodied in a powerful chess engine to assess the quality of chess moves and associated errors, we find a statistically and economically significant decrease in performance when an individual competes remotely versus offline in a face-to-face setting. The effect size decreases over time, suggesting an adaptation to the new remote setting.

That is from a new Economic Journal piece by Steffen Künn, Christian Seel, and Dainis Zegners.  I wonder if similar results might hold for Work from a Distance?

Via the excellent Samir Varma.

Caleb Watney and Heidi Williams on drug pricing reforms

Because patents are filed before the start of clinical trials, rather than when a drug actually hits the market, drugs that require long clinical trials effectively receive shorter patent terms. This reduces incentives to develop drugs that require long clinical trials, including many preventive medicines.

A simple way to correct this is for the Food and Drug Administration to guarantee a minimum baseline of 12 years of market exclusivity for branded drugs. Importantly, this would not change or lengthen protection for drugs that would be developed anyway; most already receive 12 to 16 years of market protection, and the United States already provides this for particular categories, such as biologic drugs. For drugs with short periods of market exclusivity, this policy could make the difference between the drug being developed or not.

Here is the full Op-Ed,  likely correct throughout.

Monday assorted links

1. Bodhana Sivanandan, seven, shines at British Championships.  And 17-year-old Pragnanandhaa defeats Carlsen in their Rapid match yesterday, and takes #2 in the FTX tourney.

2. “Once amongst the tallest people in the world, the generations of bison-reliant people born after the slaughter lost their entire height advantage.

3. “Our evidence suggests that refugees exert more assimilation effort in response to local threat, but do not integrate faster because of higher discrimination in more hostile regions.

4. Colombia might decriminalize cocaine.

5. In this galaxy cluster, you can hear a black hole.  Sounds like it does in the movies!

6. Survey of Michael Kremer’s contributions.

Covid-19 and female Indian labor force participation

Here are some new results of import:

The Covid-19 pandemic has created unprecedented disruptions in labour markets across the world including loss of employment and decline in incomes. Using panel data from India, we investigate the differential impact of the shock on labour market outcomes for male and female workers. We find that, conditional on being in the workforce prior to the pandemic, women were seven times more likely to lose work during the nationwide lockdown, and conditional on losing work, eleven times more likely to not return to work subsequently, compared to men. Using logit regressions on a sample stratified by gender, we find that daily wage and young workers, whether men or women, were more likely to face job loss. Education shielded male workers from job loss, whereas highly educated female workers were more vulnerable to job loss. Marriage had contrasting effects for men and women, with married women less likely to return to work and married men more likely to return to work. Religion and gender intersect to exacerbate the disproportionate impact, with Muslim women more likely to not return to work, unlike Muslim men for whom we find religion having no significant impact. Finally, for those workers who did return to work, we find that a large share of men in the workforce moved to self-employment or daily wage work, in agriculture, trade or construction. For women, on the other hand, there is limited movement into alternate employment arrangements or industries. This suggests that typical ‘fallback’ options for employment do not exist for women. During such a shock, women are forced to exit the workforce whereas men negotiate across industries and employment arrangements.

That is a recently published piece by Rosa Abraham, Amit Basole, and Surbhi Kesar.  So often we have seen that what appear to be path-dependent effects occasioned by Covid are also predictors of the future longer-run equilibrium.

Via Sean Geraghty.  And here is my previous post on the topic.  And this is from Bloomberg:

Closing the employment gap between men and women — a whopping 58 percentage points — could expand India’s GDP by close to a third by 2050. That equates to nearly $6 trillion in constant US dollar terms, according to a recent analysis from Bloomberg Economics. Doing nothing threatens to derail the country on its quest to become a competitive producer for global markets. Though women in India represent 48% of the population, they contribute only around 17% of GDP compared to 40% in China. 

All of this is worth a further ponder.

A new reason to shut down the internet

As candidates are set to appear for a major recruitment exam in Assam to fill 27,000 government posts in various departments, the state government has suspended mobile internet services around examination centres during the hours of the exam to prevent candidates from cheating.

The exam is part of the largest recruitment drive in the state for which around 14 lakh students will appear.

Internet services won’t be available in all districts where the exam is being conducted, the government said.

Here is the full story, via Siddharth M.

Investing in infants

We provide new evidence that cash transfers following the birth of a first child can have large and long-lasting effects on that child’s outcomes. We take advantage of the January 1 birthdate cutoff for U.S. child-related tax benefits, which results in families of otherwise similar children receiving substantially different refunds during the first year of life. For the average low-income single-child family in our sample this difference amounts to roughly $1,300, or 10 percent of income. Using the universe of administrative federal tax data in selected years, we show that this transfer in infancy increases young adult earnings by at least 1 to 2 percent, with larger effects for males. These effects show up at earlier ages in terms of improved math and reading test scores and a higher likelihood of high school graduation. The observed effects on shorter-run parental outcomes suggest that additional liquidity during the critical window following the birth of a first child leads to persistent increases in family income that likely contribute to the downstream effects on children’s outcomes. The longer-term effects on child earnings alone are large enough that the transfer pays for itself through subsequent increases in federal income tax revenue.

Here is the full paper by Andrew C. Barr, Jonathan Eggleston, and Alexander A. Smith.

Post-Covid excess deaths in Britain

For 14 of the past 15 weeks, England and Wales have averaged around 1,000 extra deaths each week, none of which are due to Covid.

If the current trajectory continues, the number of non-Covid excess deaths will soon outstrip deaths from the virus this year – and be even more deadly than the omicron wave.

So what is going on? Experts believe decisions taken by the Government in the earliest stages of the pandemic may now be coming back to bite.

Policies that kept people indoors, scared them away from hospitals and deprived them of treatment and primary care are finally taking their toll.

Here is the full story, via B.

Some simple analytics of Indian growth, economic and cultural

I think of India as, throughout much of its history, as having a surfeit of human talent but a scarcity of good infrastructure.  Infrastructure serves as a bottleneck for further advances.  Thus, many of India’s most significant advances are densely packed with talent, but capital goods are relatively scarce.  For instance:

1. Indian classical music is super-high G-loaded, but the instruments are relatively inexpensive, compared say to a symphony orchestra.

2. Indian mathematics and computational advance, such as we find in say Ramanujan and the broader South Indian tradition, is high on mental facility and low on capital goods.

3. Religious contemplation is another Indian specialty, ditto.

4. Indian food has lots of ingredients, but many of them are relatively inexpensive, for instance vegetables, lentils, or native spices.  The combinatorial achievements however are remarkable.

And so on.

As Indian economic growth proceeds, infrastructure will improve dramatically and indeed this process already is underway.  That will enable India to make contributions in a broader range of areas, and for those contributions to spread around the world more readily.

We are in essence entering a world where physical infrastructure and “ingredients” are no longer the binding constraint on Indian cultural development.  In cuisine, this is mirrored by the rise and spread of Indian “fusion” cuisine, including in India itself, and Indian molecular gastronomy.

Indian culture (and exports) will continue to rise in influence.  But many Indians will miss the older approach.  They expect talent-intensive cultural contributions, and have come to love them.  (Do you really want Pandit Kumar Gandharva to be replaced by a collaboration with some guy playing a mellotron?0  The next wave of Indian cultural exports will be less talent-intensive, less cognitively challenging, and to many people they will not feel “entirely Indian.”

Precisely as India succeeds in spreading its influence, its culture will seem just a bit stupider.  This will be reinforced by the likelihood that the global marginal customer is not so cognitively well-equipped to understand the greatest glories of Indian civilization.

Indians wielding capital will become increasingly influential, relative to Indians wielding talent.  Vishny Anand as Indian leader will be replaced by ????.


Why is female labor force participation declining in India?

One of the big problems in the Indian economy, and in gender relations, is that economic growth has not translated into more women working, in fact the contrary.  This paper is a little bit old (2014), but so far the most systematic analysis I have found:

…we analyse four prominent hypotheses of the root causes of declining female participation. The findings in this paper indicate that a number of factors were responsible for the recent sharp decline in estimated labour force participation rates among working-age women. Some factors, such as increased attendance in education and higher household income levels, are no doubt a positive reflection of rapid economic development. Additionally, we find evidence that changes in measurement methodology across survey rounds is likely to have contributed to the estimated decline in female participation, due to the difficulty of differentiating between domestic duties and contributing family work. However, the key long-run issue is the lack of employment opportunities for India’s women, owing to factors such as occupational segregation.

Here is the full paper by Steven Kapsos, Evangelia Bourmpoula, and Andrea Silberman.  Dhanaraj and Mahambari suggest that women who work are more likely to be the targets of domestic violence, another factor holding back labor force participation.  what else do you know on this topic?

Virginia test scores and school pandemic closures

The differences were particularly stark in mathematics. Two-thirds of students passed math exams last school year, compared to 82 percent before the pandemic. Racial and economic disparities also widened, with White and Asian students making more progress toward their pre-pandemic levels than Black and Hispanic students.

Passage rates remained more than 20 points behind pre-pandemic levels in math for Black, Hispanic and economically disadvantaged students, and among students learning English.

All groups fared better in reading than they did in math, but state officials said that was due to the fact that standards were lowered in 2021, and cautioned against optimism.

There is further detail at this link.

Does government spending boost patriotism?

We demonstrate an important complementarity between patriotism and public-good provision. After 1933, the New Deal led to an unprecedented expansion of the US federal government’s role. Those who benefited from social spending were markedly more patriotic during WWII: they bought more war bonds, volunteered more, and, as soldiers, won more medals. This pattern was new – WWI volunteering did not show the same geography of patriotism. We match military service records with the 1940 census to show that this pattern holds at the individual level. Using geographical variation, we exploit two instruments to suggest that the effect is causal: droughts and congressional committee representation predict more New Deal agricultural support, as well as bond buying, volunteering, and medals.

That is by Bruno Caprettini & Hans-Joachim Voth, forthcoming in the QJE.