EAGER: Using eye tracking to study migrant remittances and its welfare implications
The National Science Foundation uses the Early-concept Grants for Exploratory Research (EAGER) funding mechanism to support exploratory work in its early stages on untested, but potentially transformative, research ideas or approaches. This EAGER project was awarded as a result of the invitation in the Dear Colleague Letter NSF 16-080 to proposers from Historically Black Colleges and Universities to submit proposals that would strengthen research capacity of faculty at the institution. The project at Spelman College aims to use data in the form of eye tracking to study actual migrant remittance decisions in partnership with RemitRight, an online startup company. The project will strengthen research capacity and provide educational opportunities to undergraduate students at Spelman College.
Migrant remittances are a significant driver of global development. Nonetheless, sending remittances remains costly. The creation of publicly available online or mobile comparison databases containing information on the cost, speed, and reliability of sending remittances is one of the most efficient means to increase transparency and reduce transaction costs. This in turn requires such databases to be simple, accessible, and user-friendly. This study will partner with a company that has built and maintains a World Bank-certified metasearch platform for online money transfers, to test behavioral foundations of comparison-shopping. The main novelty of the study is the use of eye tracking to unpack "the black box" of experimentally elicited and naturally-occurring migrant remittance decisions. In so doing, the study sheds light on the behavioral foundations of search, choice, and information; how neuroeconomic data can be used to improve site customization and online or mobile comparison-shopping; and on the resulting welfare effects that could
accrue to migrants and recipients. From a broader standpoint, the study will also provide evidence for how refined neureconomic data can be used to craft development policy.
This EAGER project is co-funded by the Directorates for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences and Education & Human Resources.