Carl Heese



I'm a Ph.D. student in Economics at the University of Bonn, with research interest in microeconomic theory (primary), political theory and behavioral economics (secondary). Currently, I am visiting Yale University.

I will be available for interviews at the ASSA meeting in San Diego and the European Job Market in Rotterdam.

  Email: heese(at)uni-bonn.de
  Contact: +1 203 892 2723
  Office: 28 Hillhouse Ave, New Haven, CT 06511

  Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Job Market Paper

Voter Attention and Distributive Politics

Current Version

Demographic groups in the population pay systematically different attention to politics and acquire different levels of information. This paper studies the effects of heterogeneous attention when a reform may benefit one group at the expense of others (distributive politics). In the benchmark, when the information of voters is exogenous, a median voter theorem holds, and a welfare-enhancing reform is not adopted if it is not preferred by a majority. When information is endogenous, attention shifts election outcomes into a direction that is welfare-improving. Even when a welfare-enhancing reform is not preferred by a majority ex-post, under certain conditions, there are equilibria where the reform is adopted. The key driver of the results is that voters who are more severely affected by a proposed reform will pay more attention, consistent with empirical studies (``issue publics hypothesis,'' Converse (1964)). This information advantage translates into voting power, precluding the majority from exerting its dominance.

Working Papers

Persuasion and Information Aggregation in Elections

(with Stephan Lauermann, link to discussion paper , link to current version )

[abstract]

This paper studies the Bayes correlated equilibria of large majority elections in a general environment with heterogeneous, private preferences. Voters have exogeneous private signals and a version of the Condorcet Jury Theorem holds when voters do not receive additional information (Feddersen & Pesendorfer, 1997). We show that any state-contingent outcome can be implemented in some Bayes-Nash equilibrium by an expansion of the exogenous private signal structure. We interpret the result in terms of the possibility of persuasion by a biased sender who provides additional information to voters who also have noisy private information from other sources. The additional information can be an almost public signal that almost reveals the state truthfully. The same additional information is shown to be effective uniformly across environments so that persuasion does not require detailed knowledge of the distribution of the voters' private information and preferences. In a numerical example with uniform voter types, we show the effects of persuasion with already 17 or more voters.

Motivated Information Acquisition in Social Decisions (with Si Chen)

My co-author was awarded the Econ Job Market Best Paper Award 6th Edition for this paper.
(UniCredit Foundation & European Economic Association), link to current version

[abstract]

Individuals can often inquire about how their decisions would affect others. When do they stop the inquiry if they prefer one of their options for selfish reasons? We show causal evidence with a laboratory experiment that having a selfishly preferred option, individuals are more likely to continue the inquiry when the dominant information received up to that point suggests that behaving selfishly harms others. In contrast, when the dominant information up to that point suggests that being selfish harms nobody, individuals become more likely to stop acquiring information. Drawing on the Bayesian persuasion model of Kamenica and Gentzkow (2011), we propose a theoretical model showing that this information acquisition strategy can be optimal for a Bayesian agent who values the belief that she does not harm others but attempts to persuade herself to behave self-interestedly. The model predicts that strategic information acquisition motivated by self-interest can reduce the decisions' resulting negative externalities and improve the welfare of the affected others. This prediction was indeed found to be the case in our experiment.

Work in Progress

A Parameter-Free Elicitation of Probability Weights (with Si Chen )

The Method

[abstract]

We propose a non-parametric method to elicit probability weights as in Prospect Theory based on this note. This method trades off risky rewards and delayed ones. It has the following two features: first, it does not require functional form assumptions on the utility function, nor elicitation of the utility function; second, it is compatible with both monetary and non-monetary incentives. Requiring only few measurements, it is also easy to implement.

Policy Uncertainty and Signaling in Referenda

(with Deniz Kattwinkel , manuscript coming soon)

Strategic Understatements

(with Deniz Kattwinkel , in preparation)