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Title: Empirical welfare maximization with constraints Authors:  Liyang Sun - CEMFI (Spain) [presenting]
Abstract: When designing eligibility criteria for welfare programs, policymakers naturally want to target the individuals who will benefit the most. Two new econometric approaches are proposed to selecting an optimal eligibility criterion when individuals' costs to the program are unknown and need to be estimated. One is designed to achieve the highest benefit possible while satisfying a budget constraint with high probability. The other is designed to optimally trade off the benefit and the cost from violating the budget constraint. The setting we consider extends the previous literature on Empirical Welfare Maximization by allowing for uncertainty in estimating the budget needed to implement the criterion, in addition to its benefit. Consequently, my approaches improve the existing approach as they can be applied to settings with imperfect takeup or varying program needs. We illustrate my approaches empirically by deriving an optimal budget-constrained Medicaid expansion in the US.