MY PUBLICATIONS

If you are interested in any of my papers and they are behind a paywall - send me a mail and I will happily send you a copy! 

Nudging

Nudging as an environmental policy instrument (with Fredrik Carlsson, Olof Johansson-Stenman and Verena Kurz) Review of Environmental Economics and Policy, 2021.

We discuss the use of green nudges – nudges intended to reduce negative externalities – as an environmental policy instrument. We propose a new classification of nudges, pure and moral nudges, based on the mechanism through which they affect individual decision-making. A review of empirical studies reveals that green nudges can have a sizeable impact on behavior and the environment but that the effects are highly context-dependent. In the policy discussion, drawing on both the empirical overview and basic welfare-economic models, we present considerations that need to be made by policymakers when choosing between implementing a green nudge and conventional policy instruments.

When nudges aren't enough: Norms, incentives and habit formation in public transport usage with Linus Olsson Collentine Journal of Behavioral Economics and Organization, 2021

In three large-scale field experiments with over 32,500 individuals, we investigate whether public transport uptake can be influenced by behavioral interventions and by economic incentives. Despite their effectiveness in other domains, we find a tightly estimated zero for social norms and implementation intentions on ridership. Increasing the economic incentive significantly increases uptake and long-term usage. This increase is sustained for months after removing the incentive. The effect is mainly driven by initial low users, which is evidence for habit formation and highlights the heterogeneous effects of the policy. While there is scope for long-term behavior change, nudging might not be the right approach.

The hidden costs of Nudging - Experimental Evidence from Reminders in Fundraising (with Mette Trier Damgaard), Journal of Public Economics, 157, (2018), 15-26.

We document the hidden costs of a popular nudge and show how these costs distort policy making when neglected. In a field experiment with a charity, we find reminders increasing intended behavior (donations), but also increasing avoidance behavior (unsubscriptions from the mailing list). We develop a dynamic model of donation and unsubscription behavior with limited attention. We test the model in a second field experiment which also provides evidence that the hidden costs are anticipated. The model is estimated structurally to perform a welfare analysis. Not accounting for hidden costs overstates the welfare effects for donors by factor ten and hides potential negative welfare effects of the charity.

Pride and Patronage - Pay what you want pricing  at a charitable bookstore
Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, Volume 67, April 2017, Pages 1-7.

``Pay-what-you-want'' pricing has proven successful in some settings while failing to be profitable in others. I conduct a field experiment at a charitable bookstore to investigate what role the relationship between the customer and the seller could play in a pay-what-you-want price scheme. When subtly reminded of their participation in the store's membership program, members paid significantly more per book than without a reminder, while this reminder had no effect on non-members. Further, I find evidence that prices are sensitive to quantity chosen and evidence that is in line with a decay in prices over repeated purchases.

Nudging à la carte - A field experiment on climate friendly food choice. (with Verena Kurz) Behavioral Public Policy, 2019

Global food consumption threatens climate stability and ecosystem resilience. Because hard regulation of food choice through taxes and bans is politically difficult, behavioral approaches provide a promising alternative, given that they influence food choice to a meaningful extent. We test the effect of framing of a menu on the choice of ordering climate-friendly dishes in a randomized controlled experiment. Rearranging the menu in favor of vegetarian food has a large and significant effect on the willingness to order a vegetarian dish instead of meat. Our results demonstrate that small, inexpensive interventions can be used toward decreasing carbon emissions from food consumption.

Now or never! The effect of deadlines on charitable giving: Evidence from two natural experiments
(with Mette Trier Damgaard), Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics,
66 (2016), 78-87.

Do time constraints impact charitable giving? This paper develops a simple model to show how deadlines can affect the propensity to make a charitable donation. We conduct two field experiments to show empirically the effect of deadlines on charitable giving. About 53,000 prior donors of a large Danish charity received e-mails and text messages with varying deadlines for giving. We find no effect of deadlines on the propensity to give. Instead we observe a ``now-or-never'' effect; either donations are made immediately or not at all.

Forgetful or reluctant? Evidence on reminder response and donor behavior from panel data. (with Mette Trier Damgaard and Laura Villalobos) The Economics of Philanthropy. Book Chapter

We study reminder response behavior for membership renewals in a large charitable membership program and the interaction with additional giving. Using panel data with over 440,000 member-year observations, we show which characteristics predict renewals and early renewals of the membership program. We further show the negative association between late respondents and additional giving, thus providing evidence against the simple transaction cost model as an explanation for variations in reminder response rates. The study is a first step towards designing a more efficient and more targeted reminder process for charities.

Lying

A must lie situation: On the avoidance of giving negative feedback
(with Uri Gneezy, Silvia Saccardo
and Franziska Tausch), Games and Economic Behavior, 102, (2017), issue C, p. 445-454.

We examine under what conditions people provide accurate feedback to others. We use feedback regarding attractiveness, a trait people care about, and for which objective information is hard to obtain. Our results show that people avoid giving accurate face-to-face feedback to less attractive individuals, even if lying in this context comes at a monetary cost to both the person who gives the feedback and the receiver. A substantial increase of these costs does not increase the accuracy of feedback. However, when feedback is provided anonymously, the aversion to giving negative feedback is reduced.

How luck and performance affect stealing. Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization,
93 (2013), 301-304.

This paper investigates how the way of earning payoff affects the probability of stealing. The participants who earned their payoff according to performance were three times more likely to take the (undeserved) maximum payoff than participants with randomly allocated payoff. Conditional on stealing something, most subjects steal the full amount available.

Confidence and Grit

Confidence and career choices: An experiment (with Kai Barron) The Scandinavian Journal of Economics, 2021

Confidence in one's own abilities is often seen as an important determinant of being successful. Empirical evidence about how such beliefs about one's own abilities causally influence choices is, however, sparse. In this paper, we use a stylized laboratory experiment to investigate the causal effect of an increase in confidence on two important choices made by workers in the labor market: (i) choosing between jobs with a payment scheme that depends heavily on ability [high earnings risk] and those that pay a fixed wage [low earnings risk], and (ii) the subsequent choice of how much effort to exert within the job. We find that an exogenous increase in confidence leads to an increase in subjects' propensity to choose payment schemes that depend heavily on ability. This is detrimental for low ability workers due to high baseline levels of confidence.

Because of you I did not give up - Peers effects in perseverance (with Leonie Gerhard) Journal of Economic Psychology, 81, 2020

It has been shown that both perseverance as well as peer effects affect performance. In our experiment, we investigate the interplay between these two factors. Participants work on a wordplay task where we quantify perseverance as the decision to continue working hard in the face of challenges. We find that persevering on the task is signficantly correlated with the psychological questionnaire measure of grit (Duckworth et al., 2007). In an additional treatment, we provide participants with information about a peer's contemporaneous perseverance on the task. This significantly increases participants' perseverance on the task independently of their perseverance as measured
in the questionnaire, suggesting that it does not only depend on individuals' inherent traits but can also be increased by peers.

Education

The effects of the high school curriculum on school dropout (with Katja Goerlitz), Applied
Economics
, 48 (2016), 5314-5328.

High school dropouts and their lower employment prospects are a major concern for developed countries. This article answers the question whether the high school curriculum has the potential to affect students’ dropout decision. Focusing on the curriculum is also motivated by the manifold curriculum reforms or reform initiatives worldwide. Using a quasi-experimental evaluation design, we identify the effects of a curriculum reform on students’ probability to drop out of high school in the short run, i.e. for the first three cohorts graduating under the new curriculum requirements. The reform increased the curriculum requirements in high school, for instance, by reducing the freedom of choice in course selection. The results show that high school dropout rates increased for males and females alike.

The impact of high school course taking on choice of college major - Evidence from a natural experiment (with Katja Goerlitz), Education Economics, 26:3, (2018), 321-336.

This paper evaluates the effects of a high school curriculum reform on students’ probability to enroll at university and to choose a Science, Technology, Engineering or Mathematics (STEM) major. The reform increased the difficulty of graduating from high school by increasing the instruction time in core subjects and by raising the graduation requirements. Based on administrative data covering all students, the analysis is carried out by applying a difference-in-differences model. The results show that the reform increased university enrollment rates for both genders. With regard to choosing STEM as college major, we find a robust positive effect on males.