Cory Simpkins

Visiting Assistant Professor of Economics 

Farmer School of Business

Miami University

My research statement can be found here.

Below are summaries of my current projects.

"Voting for Crooks: Theory and Laboratory Evidence" (with M. Makowsky and W. Orman) 

Why do we vote for candidates we don’t trust? We develop and test a two-stage model of elections where voters must select from candidates heterogeneous in competence and pro-social preferences. Elected leaders are entrusted with resources collected via compulsory contributions (i.e.“taxes”). Growth rates of collected resources increase with competence, but leaders are unmonitored and can embezzle resources for private gain. Voter decisions are informed by knowledge of candidate competence and their decisions in a preceding trust game. Our model predicts that incentives for performative trustworthiness by would-be embezzlers necessitate that voter decisions be weighted almost entirely toward observed competence. Trustworthiness is given weight only when it betrays extreme selfishness or when candidates seize opportunities for costly signaling via super-normal behavior in the trust game. In a laboratory recreation of the model’s context, voters consistently valued competence more than observed trust game behavior across all rounds and treatments. Modest returns to observed trustworthiness, for both voters and candidates, were only realized when candidates exceeded a trust game behavior threshold that served as a costly signal. Leaders were more likely to embezzle in treatments with a higher compulsory contribution level and greater flat rate leader compensation. 

"The Lovers' Dilemma: Two-sided Uncertainty in Coordination Games" 

This paper examines delegation and communication as strategies in coordination games with uncertainty and social preferences. I construct a model where other-regarding partners attempt to coordinate over a binary choice with privately known utilities. Players can choose to either communicate by signaling their preferences or delegate the choice entirely to their partner. I characterize equilibrium behavior under various assumptions on information transmission and coordination risk. If coordination is risky, there is a type of ``first mover advantage" where the first player to communicate her own-preference guarantees her ideal outcome when communication is honest revelation. When preference signals are cheap talk, players cannot credibly communicate own-preferences to solve the coordination problem, leading to equilibria where one player always delegates. When coordination is not risky, the game becomes one of pure information transmission where communication is inhibited by strong other-regarding preferences.