Sofia Berto Villas-Boas is a professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at U C Berkeley. Born in Portugal in 1971 she received her Ph.D. in Economics from U. C. Berkeley in May 2002. Her research interests include industrial organization, consumer behavior, food policy, and environmental regulation. Her recent empirical work estimates the effects of policies on consumer behavior, such a bottled water tax, a plastic bag ban, and a soda tax campaign and its implementation. Other published work has focused on the economics behind wholesale price discrimination banning legislation, contractual relationships along a vertical supply chain, and identifying the role of those contracts in explaining pass-through of cost shocks along the supply chain into retail prices that consumers face. She has published in top economics and field journals such as Review of Economic Studies, Rand Journal of Economics, American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Marketing Science, Management Science, and Review of Economics and Statistics.
Work under submission on CUDARE W PP : COVID-19 mandates, mobility and health , and SSRN Link
We find evidence of dramatic declines in mobility nationwide prior to the adoption of statewide mandates. Despite these early reductions, we find that statewide stay-at-home policies induced "mandate effects" of between 4.1 and 5.9 percentage point declines relative to pre-COVID-19 levels for the first four states to introduce such policies. These effects persist when considering all states' mandates and alternate estimation strategies that account for states' differences in travel behavior prior to policy adoption. Using previous changes in mobility, we find significant effects on current mortality, with a 1% reduction in visits to non-essential businesses weeks prior associated with 9.2 fewer deaths per 100 million per day, corresponding to over 74,000 lives saved nationwide for the months of March and April 2020. This suggests death tolls would have been nearly 2.3 times their actual counts during these months without these behavior changes.
The study's findings imply that the declines in economic activity directly attributable to statewide mandates may be much smaller than previously thought. According to the results, as individuals around the country had already more than halved the quantity of trips taken to non-essential retail and service businesses, much of the lost business and resulting unemployment would have likely still occurred even if states had not adopted their stay-at-home policies. As the mandate-induced reductions amount to only one-tenth of the overall reductions since COVID-19, it is likely that loosening or removing statewide policies on their own will not be sufficient to induce mobility patterns to quickly return to pre-COVID-19 levels. Further policies will be needed to ensure that individuals can resume activity and return to local businesses in a manner that is safe.
Link to NABE Webinar, around minute 22
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B.A. Economics, Universidade Católica Portuguesa, Lisboa, Portugal, 1994.
Ph.D. Economics, University of California, Berkeley, CA, 2002.
Sample of Recent Publications:
Bonnet, C., J. Hilger, and S. B. Villas-Boas, 2020. Reduced form evidence on belief updating under asymmetric information—consumers’ response to wine expert opinions, European Review of Agricultural Economics,
Villas-Boas, S., K. Kiesel, J. Berning, H. Chouinard, J. McCluskey, 2019. “Consumer and Strategic Firm Response to Nutrition Shelf Labels,” American Journal of Agricultural Economics, 102 (2): 458-479.
Taylor, R. S. Kaplan, S. B. Villas-Boas, and K. Jung, 2019. “Soda Wars: Effect of a Soda Tax Election on Soda Purchases.” Economic Inquiry, vol 57 (3):. 1480-1496.
Villas-Boas, S. B., R. Taylor, E. Deakin, 2019. "Effects of Peer Comparisons on Low-Promotability Tasks: Evidence from a University Field Experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, Volume 158 : 351-366.
Bonnet, C., C. Trachtman, M. VanDop, S. B. Villas-Boas, 2020. ""Food Markets’ Structural Empirical Analysis: A Review of Methods and Topics," European Review of Agricultural Economics, 47 (2): 819–847.
Hallstein, E., J. Hilger, A. Stevens, and S. B. Villa-Boas, 2018. "Measuring Willingness to Pay for Environmental Attributes in Seafood", Environmental and Resource Economics, 73: 307-332. Link: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10640-018-0264-6
Toledo, C. and S. B. Villas-Boas, 2019.“Food Borne Disease Outbreaks, Consumer Purchases and Product Preferences: The Case of the 2010 Salmonella Egg Outbreak in the U.S.”, Applied Economic Perspectives & Policy,Volume 41, Issue 3: 519-541, . https://doi.org/10.1093/aepp/ppy015.
Allain, M-L, C. Chambolle, S. Turolla, and S. B. Villas-Boas, 2017. “The impact of Retail Mergers on Food Prices: Evidence from France”, Journal of Industrial Economics, Volume 65, Issue 3, September:469–509. DOI: 10.1111/joie.12153.
Berck, P, A. Stevens, J, Moe-Lange, and S. B. Villas-Boas, 2016. "Measuring Consumer Responses to a Bottled Water Tax Policy." American Journal of Agricultural Economics 98 (4): 981-996;
Taylor, R. and S. B. Villas-Boas, 2016. "Store Choice among Low Income Households" American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Volume 98, Issue 2: 513-532.
Keep it Causal Blog:
Feb, 2019. About Econometrics, Zion, Nike Stock Prices, co authored with Scott Kaplan.