Mallick Hossain

Mallick Hossain
Job Market Paper

Less is More Expensive: Income Differences in Bulk Buying

Quantity discounts are an effective way for households to save money. My paper explores how large these quantity discounts are, how bulk buying differs by income, and how other factors affect the bulk buying decision. Using Nielsen's granular store- and household-level data, I establish two empirical facts. First, quantity discounts are large for a wide range of products. Second, low-income households are less likely to buy in bulk than high-income households. I estimate that low-income households could reduce their grocery expenditures by 5%, saving an aggregate of $5.4 billion annually, if they bought in bulk to the same extent as high-income households. I augment Nielsen data with new data that I collected on state-level unit-price regulations and on warehouse club entry. I find that a combination of cognitive costs, store preferences, and storage costs discourage low-income households from realizing these savings. I then estimate a discrete choice model of household purchasing behavior to quantify how bulk buying changes when cognitive costs and storage costs are reduced. Counterfactual simulations show that mandating the display of unit prices, which has only been adopted by nine states, would reduce the difference in how often the highest- and lowest-income households buy in bulk by 27%.

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Other Research

Going Off-Script: Physician License Suspension and Primary Care Access for Medicaid Recipients (with Emma Boswell Dean and Daniel Kaliski)

This paper analyzes how Medicaid patients respond to changes in primary care access and how changes to access affect their health outcomes. Using a novel dataset of medical license suspensions that we construct based on public records combined with Medicaid claims data, we explore how Medicaid patients respond to the sudden unavailability of their primary care physician. Using a differences-in-differences framework, we estimate how patient outcomes and behavior are different between patients whose physicians are suspended versus those that are not. We focus on whether patients continue care with other physicians, whether they visit emergency rooms in place of primary care, and whether they continue taking prescribed medications. We find that physicians that accept Medicaid patients are more likely to be disciplined for delivering sub-standard care, but may still provide valuable treatment to patients and prevent overuse of emergency department resources. These findings help policymakers better understand the trade-offs between access to care and the quality of clinical care patients receive.

Made from Scratch: SNAP and Lottery Sales (with Jason Sockin)

On average, lotteries offer a negative return on investment, yet many billions of dollars are spent playing them. Using administrative records from Pennsylvania, we construct a new dataset of store-level lottery ticket sales and individual stores’ eligibility to accept SNAP benefits. Using this data, we document that SNAP-eligible stores account for over 70% of lottery sales, while making up only 45% of outlets that sell lottery tickets. Furthermore, we find evidence that county-level lottery sales are positively correlated with disbursement of government transfer programs. Specifically, we find that a ten percent increase in county-level SNAP transfer payments is associated with a one percent increase in lottery sales. During the 2018–2019 federal government shutdown, SNAP benefits were disbursed unexpectedly early, with households receiving two months of benefits in January and no benefits in February. We use the change in lottery ticket sales during this disruption to estimate a household’s elasticity of consumption of lottery tickets with respect to SNAP benefits.

Teaching Experience

Instructor, Statistics for Economists

TA, Statistics for Economists (Prof. Frank DiTraglia)

TA, Introduction to Macroeconomics (Prof. Luca Bossi)

TA, Introduction to Econometrics (Prof. Xu Cheng)

TA Trainer, Center for Teaching and Learning

Other Information

Presentations

Philadelphia Fed (2019), International Industrial Organization Conference (2018), Economic Graduate Student Conference, (2017; St. Louis)

Professional and Research Experience
Federal Statistical Research Data Center Administrator, US Census Bureau (2017-2019)
RA for Frank DiTraglia (Oxford) and Camilo García-Jimeno (FRB-Chicago) (2016-2019)
Staff Economist, White House Council of Economic Advisers (2015-2016)
Quantitative Research Intern, Wealthfront (2015)
RA for Katja Seim (Yale) (2014-2015)

Honors and Fellowships
Leonard Davis Institute, Associate Fellow (2019)
Penn Prize for Excellence in Teaching (2017)
Center for Teaching and Learning Teaching Certificate (2016)
Maria Leonard Graduate Fellowship (2013)

Interests

Applied Microeconomics, Public Economics, Industrial Organization, Health Economics

Address

133 South 36th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone

+1 (256) 393-0935

Email

hossaine@sas.upenn.edu

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Advisors

Katja Seim

References

Professor Katja Seim (advisor)
Yale School of Management
203-432-5487
katja.seim@yale.edu

Professor Holger Sieg (chair)
University of Pennsylvania
215-898-7194
holgers@econ.upenn.edu

Professor Aviv Nevo
University of Pennsylvania
215-898-0499
anevo@upenn.edu

Professor Sarah Moshary
Booth School of Business, University of Chicago
773-834-7642
sarah.moshary@chicagobooth.edu

Professor Frank DiTraglia (teaching)
University of Oxford
+44 (0)1865 285 903
francis.ditraglia@lmh.ox.ac.uk

Job Market Candidate Status
I am on the job market and I will be available for interviews at the 2020 ASSA Annual Meeting in San Diego