Uri Gneezy, Moshe Hoffman, Mark A. Lane, John A List, Jeffrey A Livingston, Michael J. Seiler
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Recent theoretical work shows that the better-than-average effect, where a majority believes their ability to be better than average, can be perfectly consistent with Bayesian updating. However, later experiments that account for this theoretical advance still find behavior consistent with overconfidence. The literature notes that overoptimism can be caused by either overconfidence (optimism about performance), wishful thinking (optimism about outcomes), or both. To test whether the better-than-average effect might be explained by wishful thinking instead of overconfidence, we conduct an experiment that is similar to those used in the overconfidence literature, but removes performance as a potential channel. We find evidence that wishful thinking might explain overconfidence only among the most optimistic subjects, and that conservatism is possibly more of a worry; if unaccounted for, overconfidence might be underestimated.
John A List
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In 2019 I put together a summary of data from my field experiments website that pertained to framed field experiments. Several people have asked me if I have update. In this document I update all figures and numbers to show the details for 2021. I also include the description from the 2019 paper below.
Greta List, John A List, Lina Ramirez, Anya Samek
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We conduct experiments with 720 children ages 9-11 to evaluate the relationship of time and risk preferences with health. Children who are more patient report consuming fewer unhealthy calories and spending less time on sedentary activities such as video games. Children who are more risk seeking report engaging in more exercise and more screen time. However, time and risk preferences are not predictive of body mass index (BMI). Moreover, some of the negative health behaviors, such as screen time, are associated with lower - rather than higher - BMI.
Eric Floyd, Michael Hallsworth, John A List, Robert D Metcalfe, Kristian Rotaru, Ivo Vlaev
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In this study, we first present a large natural field experiment that tested messages aimed at increasing tax compliance. We find that the main drivers of changes in compliance are messages describing the monitoring and enforcement behavior of the tax collector. A second natural field experiment built on the results of the first experiment to further investigate what kinds of costs resulting from tax collector oversight are salient to taxpayers. Specific time and cognitive incentives did not significantly increase payment rates, whereas stating non-specific costs of inaction did. Additional analyses suggest the increase in compliance is likely due to a 'fill in the blank' effect in which taxpayers assume the consequence is a fine. Interestingly, specifically stating maximum fine or jailtime consequences have the largest effect in a laboratory setting but only if the consequences are interpreted as realistic. Overall, our study reinforces that tax authorities can use short messages to increase tax compliance; the estimated accelerated revenue from the two field studies amounts to 9.9m GBP.
John A List
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In 2019, I put together a summary of data from my field experiments website that pertained to artefactual field experiments. Several people have asked me if I have an update. In this document I update all figures and numbers to show the details for 2021. I also include the description from the 2019 paper below.
John A List, Dana L Suskind
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Op-ed
John A List
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In 2019, I put together a summary of data from my field experiments website that pertained to natural field experiments. Several people have asked me if I have an update. In this document I update all figures and numbers to show the details for 2021. I also include the description from the 2019 paper below.
Matthew A. Kraft, John A List, Jeffrey A Livingston, Sally Sadoff
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In-person tutoring programs can have large impacts on K-12 student achievement, but high program costs and limited local supply of tutors have hampered scale-up. Online tutoring provided by volunteers can potentially reach more students in need. We implemented a randomized pilot program of online tutoring that paired college volunteers with middle school students. We estimate consistently positive but statistically insignificant effects on student achievement, 0.07s for math and 0.04s for reading. While our estimated effects are smaller than those for many higher-dosage in-person programs, they are from a significantly lower-cost program delivered within the challenging context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lenka Fiala, John Eric Humphries, Juanna S Joensen, Uditi Karna, John A List, Gregory Veramendi
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Leveraging data from Sweden and Chicago, we study the educational pipeline for STEM and economics majors to better understand the determinants of the gender gap, and when these determinants arise. We present three findings. First, females are less likely to select STEM courses in high school, despite equal or better preparation. Second, there are important gender differences in preferences and beliefs, even conditional on ability. Third, early differences in preferences and beliefs explain more of the gaps in high school sorting than other candidate variables. High school sorting then explains a large portion of the gender difference in college majors.
Amanda Chuan, John A List, Anya Samek, Shreemayi Samujjwala
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Parental investments shape children's educational specializations. Using a longitudinal study, we find that parents invest more in daughters than sons at ages 3-5. We find that early parental investment can explain persistently higher English scores for girls than boys 4-6 years later. However, there is no gender gap in Math. Parental investments at ages 3-5 appear to contribute to girls' advantage in English but have little impact on Math. Our results suggest that parental investments at early ages contributes to girls' comparative advantage in English.
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