Li-Wei Chao's Pilot Awards

  • End-of-life treatment Choices and Spousal Impoverishment

    Abstract: 

    A few recent studies suggest that out-of-pocket health care expenditures incurred prior to the death of a spouse may affect the subsequent probability of spousal impoverishment, especially for widowed women.  These studies, however, do not distinguish among couples who endured a lifetime of poverty, those whose joint resources immunize a surviving spouse from poverty, and those whose resources are inadequate to buffer the surviving spouse from a late life episode of poverty. In this latter group, couples may attempt to prevent drastic wealth depletion by foregoing or limiting treatment for the first spouse to encounter a potentially fatal disease. to The proposed research uses the AHEAD 1995 Module 6 (Living Wills) and HRS 1996 Module 7 (Advanced Directives), as well as data from the Core HRS, to analyze both the expressed preference (in terms of desire for life-prolonging treatment from a hypothetical scenario) and the revealed preference (in terms of wealth depletion for medical treatment) in spouses' treatment decisions prior to death. 

    Funded By: 
    P30 Pilots
    Award Dates: 
    July 1, 2003 - June 30, 2004
    PARC Grant Year: 
    Year 10
  • Why Mothers Eat Burnt Toast: Neuroeconomics of Intergenerational Sacrifice

    Abstract: 

    This pilot will examine empathy as a motive for intergenerational inter-vivos transfers using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). We propose to study how empathy varies with kinship and whether empathy is related to one's willingness to make self-sacrifice for the benefit of others. Adapting an established protocol for measuring pain empathy responses in the human brain with fMRI (Singer et al. 2004, 2006) and using an adult son, his mom, and stranger's mom as the experimental setup, the study will examine: (1) How pain empathy varies with social distance, comparing neural activation in pain empathy areas of the son's brain when he himself receives various grades of electrical shocks to his hand, when his mom receives similar shocks, and when the stranger receives similar shocks; (2) How this neural activation correlates with self-reported pain ratings and empathy scale scores; (3) How the son's willingness to receive shocks to prevent shocks to his mom or the stranger relates to the "price schedule" of shock intensities for such self-sacrifice; (4) How the price schedule, neural activation for pain empathy, and pain ratings are related to each other and to kinship; (5) How neural activation and pain ratings differ when pain is received for no purpose versus for a "higher purpose"; and (6) How neural activation differs when one's choice caused other's pain.

    Funded By: 
    P30 Pilots
    Award Dates: 
    July 1, 2009 - June 30, 2011
    PARC Grant Year: 
    Year 16
  • Does Poor Health Induce Myopia? An Investigation of Mortality, Morbidity, Aging, and Time Preference

    Aim: 

    To collect measures of health and time preference among a new sample of adults and elderly in peri-urban Durban, South Africa, with each age-stratum further divided into those who are healthy versus those who are not; to collect longitudinal measures of health and time preference among micro- and small-enterprise owners around Durban (also previously collected 2004); and to analyze relationships between health and the ‘individual discount rate’ and between changes in health and changes in the ‘individual discount rate.’

    Abstract: 

    Time preference describes the ubiquitous phenomenon that individuals prefer to receive and to consume a reward sooner rather than later. The utility from consumption in the future is often “discounted” relative to the utility from consumption now of the same commodity bundle, ceteris paribus. Time preference drives futureoriented investment behavior, including savings for retirement, pursuit of healthy lifestyles, human capital investment for oneself and for one’s offsprings. Although theories in both evolutionary biology and economics predict that the individual’s health should be associated with the individual’s time preference, no prior study has been done to empirically support or refute such predictions. By collecting detailed measures of health, time preference, changes in health, and changes in time preference at two points in time, using both interviews and time preference trade-offs involving real monetary rewards on a sample of healthy and ailing adult and elderly individuals in black townships around Durban, South Africa, this study breaks new ground by being the first to analyze in detail the relationship between time preference and health, in an area of the world with high mortality and morbidity. The research question being addressed by this pilot project is policy relevant, as the study tries to determine the importance of health in economic development, not from the commonly asserted productivity-gain argument, but from a much broader investment-for-the-future argument. The pilot results will surely strengthen future funding proposals to examine the relationship between health and economic development.

    Funded By: 
    PARC
    Award Dates: 
    July 1, 2006 - June 30, 2007
    PARC Grant Year: 
    Year 13
  • Trust and Transfers in South Africa: Linking Surveys

    Aim: 

    To uncover the motivations underlying transfers by examining transfers patterns derived from experimental economics games combined with data derived from survey and qualitative interviews

    Abstract: 

    HIV-related stigma has been touted as a barrier to HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment. While various survey instruments and stigma scales have been developed to measure HIV-related stigma in the general population and among persons living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA), there is no consensus among researchers as to how best to measure stigma or how stigma translates to actual financial discrimination. Also, attitudes expressed in surveys may not represent real behavior. Moreover, even if real behavior is observed, such as that someone exhibited “stigmatizing behavior” towards PLWHA, it is unclear whether this same perpetrator would interact differently with other people without HIV. This pilot study breaks new grounds by using experimental economics games combined with detailed surveys to measure whether people with and without HIV treat each other differently when money is at stake. In this study, we (i) conduct trust, dictator, and ultimatum games (well-known games in the experimental economics field) between persons with and without HIV to examine whether trust, altruism, egalitarian motives, and stigma as revealed in these games differ by HIV status of the participants, and (ii) compare the results from the behavioral economics games with the post-game surveys to construct better measures of HIV-related stigma and to quantify stigma in monetary terms.

    Funded By: 
    Not Funded
    Award Dates: 
    July 1, 2005 - June 30, 2006
    PARC Grant Year: 
    Year 12