Dustin Tracy

Profiles Google School IDEAS Google School

Job Market Paper

An Experimental Investigation of Health Insurance Policy and Behavior PDF
(with Kevin James, Hillard Kaplan & Stephen Rassenti) "under review" at Health Economics

Abstract: We introduce a new experimental approach to measuring the effects of health insurance policy alternatives on behavior and health outcomes over the life course. Cash-motivated subjects are placed in a virtual environment where they earn income and allocate it across multi-period lives. We compare behavior across age, income and insurance plans---one priced according to an individual's expected cost and the other uniformly priced through employer-implemented cost sharing. We find that 1) subject behavior approximated optimal responses; 2) in all treatments, subjects under-invested in health early in life and over-invested in health late in life; 3) subjects in the employer-implemented plan purchased insurance at higher rates; 4) the employer-based plan reduced differences due to income and age; 5) subjects in the actuarial plan engaged in more health-promoting behaviors, but still below optimal levels, and did save at the level required, so did realize the full benefits of the plan. Contrary, to model predictions, the actuarial priced insurance plan did not increase utility relative to the employer-based plan. Subjects had more difficulty optimizing choices in the Actuarial treatment's more dynamic and more complicated decision space.


Revision requested Management Science

A Reassessment of the Potential for Loss-Framed Incentive Contracts to Increase Productivity:
a Meta-Analysis and Real-Effort Experiment.
(with Paul J. Ferraro)

Abstract: The theory of loss aversion posits that humans weigh losses more than gains. Scholars have argued that loss aversion can be harnessed via inexpensive framing manipulations to increase worker productivity under incentive contracts. In a meta-analysis, we estimate that loss framing increases productivity by nearly 0.2 SD. Despite this substantial effect, explicitly loss-framed contracts are rare in the field. We shed light on this apparent paradox by highlighting systematic patterns of heterogeneity in the meta-analysis, and then implementing a new experiment. In the meta-analysis, we find evidence that a mix of underpowered designs and publication bias, particularly among laboratory experiments, may inflate the estimated summary effect of loss framing by almost three-fold. Our new experiment yields results consistent with that evidence. Moreover, in our experiment, only 20% of workers prefer loss framing to gain framing when given a choice, and the productivity effects of loss framing are detectable only in this subgroup. This subgroup exhibits below-average productivity in the gain frame, and loss framing only serves to bring their average productivity up to the average of other workers (i.e., loss-framed contracts cannot serve as screens for high-productivity workers, but may serve as commitment devices for low-productivity workers). Lastly, we find that an equivalent effect can be induced verbally, without resorting to an explicitly loss-framed contract. We thus conclude that there is no paradox: although loss framing may increase productivity among some workers, the rewards to an employer from using explicitly loss-framed contracts appear to be small.


Publications, Health Metrics

Identifying bedrest using 24-h waist or wrist accelerometry in adults.
J Dustin Tracy, Sari Acra, Kong Y Che & Maciej S. Buchowski. PloS One, March 2018.

Novel patterns of physical activity in a large sample of preschool-aged children.
Rachel M Ruiz, Evan C Sommer, J Dustin Tracy, Jorge A Banda, Christina D Economos, Meghan M JaKa, Kelly R Evenson, Maciej S Buchowski & Shari L Barkin. BMC Public Health, Febuary 2018.

Separating Bed Rest from Wake Using Wrist or Waist-Worn Accelerometers in Youth.
J Dustin Tracy, Zhiyi Xu, Leena Choi, Sari Acra, Kong Y Chen & Maciej S. Buchowski. PloS One, April 2014.

A Novel Approach to Characterize Physical Activity Patterns in Preschool-Aged Children.
Rachel M Ruiz, J Dustin Tracy, Evan C Sommer & Shari L Barkin. Obesity, November 2013.


Working Papers

Competition and Coming Clean PDF
(with Cary Deck)

Identifying Bedrest Using Waist Accelerometry in 3-6 year Old Children.
J Dustin Tracy, Shari L Barkin, Maciej S Buchowski, Thomas Donnelly, William Heerman, Nina Martin & Evan C Sommer


Work in Progress

Determinates of Effort to Prevent Chronic Disease a Laboratory Experiment.
(with Kevin James, Hillard Kaplan & Stephen Rassenti) data collected

Credence Markets with Uncertainty. (with Eric Schniter & Vojtěch Zíka) data collected

The Equilibrium of Overconfidence. (with Vojtěch Zíka) data collected

Rethinking Overconfidence. (with Vojtěch Zíka) data collected