scroll down for links to my working papers and publications

Major ongoing research projects

Theoretical models of strategic information production and disclosure

Much of my past research has involved theoretical models of information production and disclosure by agents competing over the allocation of scarce resources. Most of this work can be loosely interpreted as lobbying, whether it is interest groups lobbying politicians, or entrepreneurs lobbying investors.  I continue to actively work in this area. Current working papers include research showing how politicians may have an incentive to remain clueless on policy, and why investors may not want to perfectly observe the financial performance of the firms competing for investment capital.

IGATE Zimbabwe

In 2012, the Department for International Development (DFID) UK launched The Girl’s Education Challenge (GEC) to distribute £300 million across 37 projects in 18 countries. “Improving Girls’ Access through Transforming Education” (IGATE) is one of these programs, targeting girls in rural Zimbabwe. IGATE introduces a set of nine individual interventions into randomly selected schools/communities in 10 districts in rural Zimbabwe. The interventions are intended to work together to empower adolescent girls, increase community and family support, and provide resources in order to improve academic and nonacademic outcomes. The program reached a total of 465 rural schools which were randomly selected for treatment. In total, 48,773 girls who lived the treatment school catchment areas participated in the IGATE project.

I’m working with World Vision, the NGO that implemented the program, and Limestone Analytics to provide a detailed analysis of the project’s impact, and to write a series of academic papers presenting the findings. The first papers: “Does empowering girls improve their math performance? Evidence from rural Zimbabwe” will be available soon.

Promoting human capital development among students in Chicago

A series of field experiments intended to improve our understanding of why some groups of kids are more likely than others to exert effort academically. Brent Hickman, John List, Joe Price and I conduct series of field experiments within public schools in the Chicago area. The first paper, “Productivity Versus Motivation: Combining Field Experiments with Structural Econometrics to Study Adolescent Human Capital Production,” will be available soon, and will be followed by a second paper on looking at which kids get the most out of smaller group sizes and more one-on-one attention.

Threshold public goods experiments on charitable giving and crowdfunding

A series of lab experiments exploring how donors choose between alternative projects. The first paper, “Donor coordination and project funding” with Corazzini and Valbonesi appeared the Journal of Public Economics. Ongoing work with Corazzini and Reggiani looks at how aid organizations may help overcome coordination problems among donors. I was awarded a four year SSHRC Insight Grant for work with Corazzini and Tergiman to extend work in the area to allow heterogeneity among donors.

Youth Ready training programs in El Salvador and Honduras

Youth Ready is a training and mentoring program for young adults in poor, violent communities in Central America. The intervention involves six months of training followed by six months of mentoring and career assisstance for males and females. The program is being implemented by World Vision Canada and World Vision International, who selected Limestone Analytics to measure the impact of the program. I’m supervising the research team responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of the program. An academic paper will be released following the endline analysis in 2019.

Submissions, revisions & working papers

C. Cotton, B. Hickman and J. Price, Incentive Provision in Investment Contests: Theory and Evidence (the new version of Affirmative Action and Human Capital Investment: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment, NBER Working Paper w20397)
–press: Quartz, FiveThirtyEight and Chronicle of Higher Education

G. Canavire-Bacarreza, C. Cotton, M. Jetter, and A. Montoya Agudelo, Polarized Education Level and Civil War.

C. Cotton and C. Li, Clueless Politicians

M. Agranov, C. Cotton and C. Tergiman, Persistence of Power: Repeated Multilateral Bargaining (this paper replaces Dynamic Legislative Bargaining with Endogenous Agenda Setting Authority)

C. Cotton, F. McIntyre and J. Price, Correcting for bias in hot hand analysis: Analyzing performance streaks in youth golf

R. Boleslavsky, B. Carlin and C. Cotton, Competing for Capital: Auditing and Credibility in Financial Reporting, NBER working paper w23273

Published & forthcoming articles

R. Boleslavsky and C. Cotton, Limited capacity in project selection: Competition through evidence production, Economic Theory, forthcoming

R. Boleslavsky, C. Cotton and H. Gurnani, Demonstrations and price competition in new product releaseManagement Science, 63: 2016-2026, 2017.

C. Cotton and A. Dellis, Informational lobbying and agenda distortionJournal of Law, Economics & Organizations, 32: 762-793, 2016
–summary at Economics and Policy

C. Cotton, Competing for attention: Lobbying time-constrained politicians, Journal of Public Economic Theory, 18: 642–665, 2016

L. Corazzini, C. Cotton and P. Valbonesi, Donor coordination in project funding: Evidence from a threshold public goods experimentJournal of Public Economics, 128: 16-29, 2015

R. Boleslavsky and C. Cotton, Grading standards and education qualityAmerican Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 7: 248-279, 2015
–press: AEA Research HighlightVoxEU

R. Boleslavsky and C. Cotton, Information and extremism in electionsAmerican Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 7:165-207, 2015
–press: Washington PostInternational Business Times, Inverse, PsychCentral, MilenioDiscovery News

C. Cotton, C. Li, F. McIntyre and J. Price, Which explanations for gender differences in competition are consistent with a simple theoretical model?Journal of Behavioral & Experimental Economics, 59: 56-67, 2015

S. Campos, C. Cotton and C. Li, Deterrence effects under Twombly: On the costs of increasing pleading standards in litigationInternational Review of Law and Economics, 44: 61-71, 2015

C. Cotton and C. Li, Profiling, screening and criminal recruitment, Journal of Public Economic Theory, 17: 964-985, 2015

C. Cotton, Submission fees and response times in academic publishing, American Economic Review, 103(1): 501-09, 2013

C. Cotton, F. McIntyre and J. Price, Gender differences in repeated competition: Evidence from school math contests, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 86: 52-66, 2013
–press: VoxEU, Forbes, Huffington Post

C. Cotton, Pay to play politics: Informational lobbying and contribution limits when money buys access, Journal of Public Economics, 96: 369-386, 2012

C. Cotton and C. Liu, 100 horsemen and the empty city: A game theoretic exploration of deception in Chinese military legend, Journal of Peace Research, 48(2): 217-223, 2011
–press: U.S. News & World Report

C. Cotton, Should we tax or cap political contributions? A lobbying model with policy favors and accessJournal of Public Economics, 93: 831-842, 2009 (lead article)

C. Cotton, Multiple bidding in auctions as bidders become confident of their private valuations, Economics Letters, 104(3): 148-150, 2009

If you are looking for a paper that isn’t listed here, see my OLD TITLES page