James W. Roberts
 Associate Professor, Department of Economics, Duke University and Research Associate of NBER



Ph.D., Economics, Northwestern University
BA, Economics, Davidson College

Fields of Specialization:

Industrial Organization, Applied Microeconomics

Contact Information:

228B Social Sciences
Box 90097, Durham, NC 27708-0097
919-660-1822 (office)
919-684-8974 (fax)


IO-ish Events Events around the Triangle (S2016)

Curriculum Vitae

Curriculum Vitae (Updated Summer 2016)

Published and Forthcoming Papers

Bailouts and the Preservation of Competition: The Case of the Federal Timber Contract Payment Modification Act (with Andrew Sweeting)
AEJ Microeconomics, forthcoming.
Note: The material in this paper has appeared in a number of different working papers with the titles "Bailouts and the Preservation of Competition", "Competition versus Auction Design," and "Entry and Selection in Auctions."

Regulating Bidder Participation in Auctions (with Vivek Bhattacharya and Andrew Sweeting)
RAND Journal of Economics, 45(4), 2014.
Copyright 2014: RAND
Note: This replaces an earlier version of the paper titled "Regulating Entry Through Indicative Bidding."

Gender Disparity in Urology: Preferences, Competition, and Quality of Care (with Ryan McDevitt)
RAND Journal of Economics, 45(1), 2014.
Copyright 2014: RAND

Unobserved Heterogeneity and Reserve Prices in Auctions
RAND Journal of Economics, 44(4), 2013.
Copyright 2014: RAND

When Should Sellers Use Auctions? (with Andrew Sweeting)
American Economic Review, 103(5), 2013.
Copyright 2013: American Economic Association

Robust Firm Pricing with Panel Data (with Ben Handel and Kanishka Misra)
Journal of Econometrics, 174(2), 2013.
Copyright 2013: Elsevier B.V.

Can Warranties Substitute for Reputations?
AEJ Microeconomics, 3(3), 2011.
Copyright 2011: American Economic Association

Network Structure of Production (with Enghin Atalay, Ali Hortacsu and Chad Syverson)
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(13), 2011.
Supporting material here.
Copyright 2011: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Entry into Auctions: An Experimental Analysis (with Seda Ertac and Ali Hortacsu)
International Journal of Industrial Organization, 29(2), 2011.
Copyright 2010: Elsevier B.V.

Working Papers

An Empirical Model of Dynamic Limit Pricing: The Airline Industry (with Chris Gedge and Andrew Sweeting)
NBER Working Paper 20293.

Speculators and Middlemen: The Strategy and Performance of Investors in the Housing Market (with Patrick Bayer, Christopher Geissler and Kyle Mangum)
Replaces: Speculators and Middlemen: The Role of Intermediaries in the Housing Market
NBER Working Paper 16784.

Speculative Fever: Contagion in the Housing Bubble (with Pat Bayer and Kyle Mangum)
NBER Working Paper 22065.

Research in Progress

Strategic Patient Discharge (with Paul Eliason, Paul Grieco and Ryan McDevitt)

In response to rapidly increasing payments to long term-care hospitals (LTCHs), Medicare introduced the LTCH prospective payment system (PPS) in 2002. The PPS bases payment on a patient's diagnosis (DRG) rather than her reported cost of care, which is intended to provide incentives for LTCHs not to over-prescribe treatment. However, the structure of the LTCH PPS includes a discontinuity as patients pass a threshold number of days that increases payments from "short-stay" status to the full LTCH amount. The discontinuity in payments produces a financial incentivize for LTCHs to strategically schedule patient discharges for reasons other than the well-being of the patient. Using Medicare claims data, we present evidence that LTCHs respond to this incentive by strategically discharging patients in the days immediately after they exceed the threshold for higher payments. We identify this strategic behavior using variation both in the length of thresholds across DRGs and changes in thresholds within DRGs over time. Furthermore, we find that for-profit LTCHs and those with a hospital-within-hospital structure are more likely to strategically discharge patients. Finally, we show that LTCH acquired by the two large LTCH chains, Kindred and Select, increase their use of strategic discharge post-acquisition, suggesting a corporate strategy focused on maximizing revenue from Medicare. We estimate structural dynamic model of patient discharge to measure how different facility types, including chain and not-for-profit status, respond differently to financial incentives.

Airline Mergers and the Potential Entry Defense (with Sophia Li, Joe Mazur and Andrew Sweeting)

Focusing on airlines, we estimate an empirical model that allows for selection along cost or quality dimensions and we find it to be quantitatively important. We show how a selective entry model helps us to explain the stylized fact in the data that airline mergers have tended to lead to higher prices on the most affected routes with only very limited being induced. We also use our estimated model to perform counterfactual experiments on mergers.