Behavioral Economics, Development Economics, Experimental Methods



I lie? We lie! Why? Experimental evidence on a dishonesty shift in groups, with Martin Kocher & Simeon Schudy, Management Science (2018), 64 (9): 3995-4008. Download paper
Communication in groups makes misreporting in the lab more acceptable.

Cash in hand and saving decisions, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization (2021), 188: 1206-1220. Download paper SABE/IAREP/Elsevier Best PhD Student Paper 2018
The tangibility of cash does not influence savings deposits of Filipino microfinance clients.

Microfinance loan officers before and during Covid-19: Evidence from India, with Kristina Czura, Florian Englmaier & Hoa Ho. World Development (2022), 152: 105812. Download paper
Loan officers juggle many different tasks and it becomes more difficult during the first year of the pandemic.

The gender gap in mental well-being at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic: Evidence from the UK, with Ben Etheridge, European Economic Review, (2022), 145: 104114. Download paper
Mental well-being of women declined more than men’s in April 2020, which appears to be related to mostly social factors.


Working Papers

Can you spot a scam? Measuring and improving scam identification ability, with Jana Cahlíková, Lucy Kaaria, Elif Kubilay & Eva Raiber. Download CESifo Working Paper

The recent expansion of digital financial products leads to severe consumer protection issues such as fraud and scams. As these potentially decrease trust in digital services, especially in developing countries, avoiding victimization has become an important policy objective. In an online experiment, we first investigate how well individuals in Kenya identify phone scams using a novel measure of scam identification ability. We then test the effectiveness of scam education, a commonly used approach by banks and institutions for fraud and scam prevention. We find that common tips on how to spot scams do not significantly improve individuals’ scam identification ability, i.e., the distinction of scams from genuine messages. This null effect is driven by an increase in correctly identified scams and a decrease in correctly identified genuine messages. We interpret this as an increase in caution. In addition, we find suggestive evidence that genuine messages which contain scam-like features are more likely to be misclassified, highlighting the importance of a careful design of official communication.

Flexible Microcredit: Effects on Loan Repayment and Social Pressure, with Kristina Czura & Anett John. Download CESifo Working Paper

Recent evidence suggests that more flexible microloan repayment benefits borrowers, but lenders fear diminished repayment morale. We study repayment choices in rigid and flexible loan contracts with discretion in repayment timing. Using a lab-in-the-field experiment with 645 microcredit borrowers in the Philippines, we identify moral hazard and quantify social pressure. Payoff maximization predicts low repayment in our rigid benchmark contract, and increased repayment with flexibility. Results suggest the opposite: Repayment in the rigid contract is high, and drops substantially under flexible repayment. Social pressure decreases. Our results are consistent with a strong social norm for repayment, which is weakened by introducing flexibility. Observed high-repayment equilibria may be sustained by social norms, and may erode with the introduction of flexibility.

Incentive and signaling effects of bonus payments: An experiment in a company, with Marvin Deversi. Download CESifo Working Paper

Economists and management scholars have argued that the scope of incentives to increase cooperation in organizations is limited as their use signals the prevalence of free-riding among employees. This paper tests this hypothesis experimentally, using a sample of managers and employees from a large company. We exogenously vary whether managers are informed about prevailing cooperation levels among employees before they can set incentives to promote cooperation. In addition, employees matched to informed managers learn that the manager could base their incentive choice on cooperation levels. We find no evidence for the hypothesized signaling effect. Having an informed manager set the incentive does not change employees’ beliefs about the cooperativeness of others. Incentives hence have strong positive effects on cooperative beliefs, irrespective of information. The absence of the signaling effect seems related to the perception of managers’ intentions, a mitigating but understudied factor.


Selected Work in Progress

The Effects of Information Sharing on Moral Hazard in Credit Markets – Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in the Philippines, with Kristina Czura & Matthias Fahn

We theoretically and experimentally study how the introduction of a credit registry affects investment and repayment decisions of borrowers. Information sharing between lenders can affect repayment rates via two mechanisms, i) better screening by lenders and ii) an additional incentive for borrowers to repay. In contrast to most previous studies, we can exclude selection effect and potential changes in the borrower pool and cleanly identify the incentive effect of information sharing on borrowers. We conduct an information campaign with 6,000 microfinance clients to exogenously vary the knowledge of the credit registry and possible consequences for borrowers. Our design allows identifying both the effects on ex-ante moral hazard (project and effort choice) and ex-post moral hazard (repayment performance).

Measuring Individual Preferences for Truth-Telling, with Susanna Grundmann & Simeon Schudy. Funded by Diligentia Foundation for Empirical Research

Engaging Learners with Reminders and Deadlines: Evidence from Kenya, with Charlotte Cordes & Andrej Woerner. Funded by Diligentia Foundation for Empirical Research