2016 CARD Award for Best Ph.D. Dissertation in Agricultural, Environmental, and Energy Economics and Policy

Essays on firm location decisions, regional development and choices under risk

Younjun Kim

Iowa State University

My dissertation consists of four papers. The first two papers study regional economic development. In particular, they focus on broadband Internet and agglomeration economies in rural areas. One paper tests whether broadband improves rural economy and find positive broadband effects on new firm location choices. The other paper explores whether agglomeration economies operate even in rural areas and find that agglomeration economies are important for new firm location choices and commuting decisions. Those findings from the two papers have useful implications to regional economic development policies.

My two other papers study choices under risk. One paper focuses on risk elicitation methods with a multiple price list format, which is widely used in the literature. The paper compares subjects’ choices between the elicitation method and one question selected from the method. The paper finds significant differences in the comparison and show that the differences occur due to reference-dependent preferences. Those results suggest that the elicitation method is not reliable because loss aversion influences elicited risk aversion. The other paper tests whether pre-play learning removes inconsistent preference rankings between choice and pricing for lotteries. Inconsistent preference rankings have been studied last four decades because standard economic theory cannot explain inconsistent preference rankings. Pre-play learning is simple ex-ante lottery learning, where subjects observe playing lotteries before they make decisions. The paper finds that pre-play learning removes inconsistent preference rankings, which suggests that pre-play learning makes preference rankings consistent between choice and pricing as predicted in standard economic theory. Those results from the two papers have meaningful implications to the literature.