Scars of the Gestapo: Remembrance and Privacy Concerns (with Florencia Hnilo)

Abstract: We study how remembrance of an authoritarian regime impacts privacy concerns. Our main hypothesis is that Germany's culture of Holocaust remembrance (Erinnerungskultur) focuses Germans’ attention on the risks associated with private data ending up in the wrong hands. One example of this culture of remembrance are the Stolpersteine, plaques on the sidewalk signalling that a victim of Nazi persecution lived on a given address. We use a detailed street level imagery dataset of Berlin to relate the location of the Stolpersteine to a novel geolocated measure of privacy concerns: whether a person asks for their building to be blurred on a street-level imagery provider. We show that there exists a positive relationship between the amount of Stolpersteine near a person’s house or workplace, and the probability that this person will ask the imagery provider to blur the front of their house. This relationship is very localized, as most of the effect concentrates on Stolpersteine that are less than 10 meters away.

Buyers' Welfare Maximizing Auction Design. International Journal of Game Theory, Vol. 52 (2), pp. 555-567 (2023).

Abstract: I derive the incentive compatible and individually rational mechanism that maximizes the sum of the buyers' ex-ante expected utilities. I also show that this mechanism minimizes the seller's revenue. When payments are required to be non-negative, my mechanism takes the form of an arbitrarily weighted lottery with no participation fees, and the resulting allocation is generally not ex-post efficient. This means that before learning their valuations and if side payments from the seller to the buyers are not allowed, buyers as a group would be better off if they gave up ex-post efficiency in order to avoid positive payments. When transfers are allowed, the optimal mechanism is a standard auction with no reserve price and where the seller's income is redistributed back to the buyers. This mechanism is robust to speculators if a buyer with value 0 never partakes in the redistribution.