John A. List

Last updated
John A. List
JohnListbiopic-20181ex crop-2nf4xar.jpg
Born
John August List

(1968-09-25) September 25, 1968 (age 54)
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Dana L. Suskind
(m. 2018)
Institution University of Chicago
Field Economics
School or
tradition
Behavioral economics
Experimental economics
Alma mater University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point (BA)
University of Wyoming (PhD)
Doctoral
advisor
Shelby Gerking
Influences Vernon Smith
Gary Becker
Information at IDEAS / RePEc

John August List (born September 25, 1968) is an American economist known for establishing field experiments as a tool in empirical economic analysis. He works at the University of Chicago, where he serves as Kenneth C. Griffin Distinguished Service Professor; from 2012 until 2018, he served as Chairman of the Department of Economics. Since 2016, he has served as Visiting Robert F. Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. [1] List is noted for his pioneering contributions to field experiments in economics, with Nobel prize winning economist George Akerlof and noted law professor Cass Sunstein writing that "List has done more than anyone else to advance the methods and practice of field experiments." [2] Nobel prize winning economist Gary Becker quipped that "John List's work in field experiments is revolutionary." [3]

Contents

As detailed in his popular science book, The Why Axis (co-authored with Uri Gneezy), List uses field experiments to offer new insights in various areas of economics research, such as education, private provision of public goods, discrimination, social preferences, prospect theory, environmental economics, marketplace effects on corporate and government policy decisions, gender and inclusion, corporate social responsibility and auctions. The book became an international best-seller and represented List's field experiments from the early 1990s until 2010.

List published a second popular book, The Voltage Effect, in February, 2022, that has become a runaway best seller, making the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, Porchlight, Washington Post, and LA Times best seller lists. [4] The book is based on a collection of academic articles written by List on scaling. With a suite of coauthors, List has produced both theoretical and empirical insights concerning the "science of using science." [5] [6] [7] [8] In The Voltage Effect, List argues that scaling, at its roots, is an Anna Karenina problem, overturning the conventional wisdom that the problem is a "silver bullet" or "best shot" problem. This leads List to present a thesis that "Every scalable idea is the same, each unscalable idea is unscalable in its own way." List revealed his work at Colby College in 2021.

List received his bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, and his Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming in 1996. He had his first teaching position at the University of Central Florida, and he then moved to the University of Arizona and the University of Maryland, College Park, where he still holds an adjunct position, before moving to Chicago. List also spends time at Tilburg University, where he is a distinguished visiting scholar and Resources for the Future, where he is a University Distinguished Scholar. From May 2002 to July 2003 he served as Senior Economist, President's Council of Economic Advisers. In 2011 List was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. [9] In 2015 he was elected Fellow of the Econometric Society and, according to RePEc, was the top ranked economist worldwide of the 40,000 economists who graduated in the last 20 years. As of the end of 2022, RePEc ranks him as the 5th most influential economist in the world. [10]

Career

John attended Sun Prairie High School, graduating in 1987. He became an Academic All-American in golf at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point in 1990 and 1991, while majoring in economics, graduating in 1992. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Wyoming in 1996 under supervision of Shelby Gerking. He began his career at the University of Central Florida as an assistant professor in 1996. He became an associate professor in 2000 at the University of Arizona where he worked with Vernon L. Smith on furthering his field experimental methods. In 2001 he was awarded a full professorship at the University of Maryland, College Park. He held that post until 2004, when he received an appointment as a full professor at the Economics Department of the University of Chicago. In January 2011, List was awarded an endowed professorship at the University of Chicago's Economics Department for his work in the area of field experiments.

In addition to his university career, List served as the chief economist for taxi company Uber, and later for the similar company Lyft. [11]

Awards

In 2015, List was shortlisted for a Nobel Prize by Reuters (alongside Charles Manski and Richard Blundell). List and Blundell were subsequently odds on favorites to win in betting parlors. List for his work on field experiments and Blundell for labor economics. At age 46, List was the youngest Reuters prediction by nearly 20 years. In April 2011 List was selected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2012, List was selected to receive the Yrjo Jahnsson Lecture Series prize, given by the Yrjö Jahnsson Foundation. The award, given every 2 years by the Finnish Foundation, recognized List's achievements to society from pioneering the use of field experiments. Ten of the previous nineteen recipients have gone on to win the Nobel Prize in economics. In August 2017, List was awarded the Klein Prize International Economic Review for his work on field experiments. Six of the twenty recipients have won the Nobel Prize.

In November 2014 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by Tilburg University. Tilburg University calls him "a true pioneer in experimental field research," whose innovative work has "finally made it possible to test behavioral economic theory in everyday practice...He has raised this research area to a higher level with his originality, expertise, and impact, and he is an inspiration to many." In 2016, University of Ottawa bestowed the honorary doctorate to List for his pioneering work in field experiments. In 2011 List was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. [12] In 2015 he was elected Fellow of the Econometric Society. In 2015 [13] and 2016, [14] he was named to the Nonprofit Times Power & Influence Top 50. In 2017, he received the Hartsook Growing Philanthropy Award. [15]

In 2004, List received the 1st Place Competitive Paper Award for his field experiment titled “Informational Cascades: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Market Professionals.” The paper was picked as the top research study in 2004 within finance by the FMA, which considered hundreds of studies. List received the 2008 Arrow Senior Prize for his field experimental work in the area of testing economic theory from the BE Press. In July 2010, List was awarded the highest honor by the AAEA, the John Kenneth Galbraith prize. The award was given for recognition of List's "breakthrough discoveries in economics and outstanding contributions to humanity through leadership, research, and service. In particular, List's pathbreaking work using field experiments in economics."

Work

His work focuses on microeconomic issues, and includes over 250 academic publications. [16] Among these articles are field experiments using several different markets to obtain data, including charitable fundraising activities, the Chicago Board of Trade, Costa Rican CEOs, the new automobile market, sports memorabilia markets, coin markets, auto repair markets, open air markets located everywhere—from the United States to Morocco to India, various venues on the internet, several auction settings, shopping malls, various labor markets, and grammar and high schools. In the past two decades, List has expanded his research agenda to explore theoretical and empirical aspects of scaling ideas and policies.

Behavioral economics

List's research on behavioral economics has focused on testing theories like gift exchange, social preferences, and prospect theory. Traditional tests of these theories relied on recruiting undergraduate students to participate in experiments for a small amount of money. List instead recruited subjects in actual marketplaces to participate in experiments, sometimes unbeknownst to even the subjects. [17] List's field experiments have found that gift exchange is not as powerful a motivator of labor effort as earlier research found, [18] that social preferences are not as pronounced as prior research found, [19] and that the divergence between Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept often called the endowment effect, predicted by prospect theory, disappears with market experience. [20]

List's recent work in behavioral economics has found that framing can induce increased worker productivity., [21] and has been picked up by several corporations around the world.

Environmental economics

List has published research on the impact of environmental regulation on economic production [22] and on endangered species. [23] List's research has also focused on testing non-market valuation mechanisms in the field frequently used in contingent valuation [24] and in testing different incentives to promote environmentally friendly technology adoption. [25] He also teaches in Kiel University Research Institute in summer 2017 where he developed ideas on non-market valuation using field experiments.

Charitable giving

List has also brought social preferences and value of public goods to the marketplace by testing determinants of charitable giving. List has found that a number of the traditional techniques in the philanthropy world are not well understood. For example, the higher the announced seed money [26] the more people give. Also, matching grants [27] increase giving, but it doesn't matter if the match is 1:1 or 3:1. [28] List has also found that giving is easily influenced by incentives that discount the importance of altruism in motivating giving. For example, List has found that beauty [29] and social pressure [30] are important motivators for giving. In an experiment through a solicitation mailed to 300,000 households in Alaska, List found that people are more likely to give because they want to feel good, rather than from pure altruism. [31]

Some of his field experimental work on charitable fundraising were highlighted in The New York Times Magazine . [32] In a 2009 Crain's Chicago Business article, List is referred to as a "rock star" in the area of philanthropy. [33] In his role as Visiting Robert F. Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at Indiana's Lilly School of Philanthropy, he works to apply academic research for the benefit of fundraising practitioners. [34] He also serves as principal investigator for the Science of Philanthropy Initiative. [35]

Education

List's recent research focuses on increasing educational achievement. In 2008 he worked with Chicago Heights, IL to design cash incentives for ninth graders and their parents to increase academic performance. [36] In 2009 he won a $10 million grant from the Griffin Foundation to study the returns to pre-school education by founding a pre-school called The Griffin Early Childhood Center [37] and to test the impact of performance pay for teachers in Chicago Heights, IL. [38]

List's recent education research was recently discussed in Bloomberg. [39]

List co-founded and co-directs the Thirty Million Words Center for Early Learning and Public Health along with Dana L. Suskind. [40]

Other research

List has studied the economics of discrimination, finding that discrimination in marketplaces is statistical discrimination, rarely motivated by animus. [41] He has also investigated gender differences in competition and wages, finding that men are more likely to apply for jobs that offer incentive pay than women. [42] He has also researched the role of gender in competition in matrilineal and patriarchal societies, finding that women in matrilineal societies opt to compete at similar levels to men in patriarchal societies. [43] List has also used experiments to test ideas in finance. He has tested the options model, [44] information cascades, [45] and the equity premium puzzle [46] with undergraduate students and professional traders. Many of these ideas were advanced by List when he taught at the Finnish School of Finance in 2007 on field experiments in Finance.

Personal life

List married surgeon Dana L. Suskind in 2018 [47] and resides with his eight children in Hyde Park, Chicago.

Press

A collection of a few of the recent pieces written on List's field experiments can be found in the following articles.

Academic publications

Related Research Articles

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References

  1. "John A. List named Visiting Robert F. Hartsook Chair in Fundraising at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy". Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. 2016-12-01. Retrieved 2021-12-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  2. Akerlof, George; Oliver, Adam; Sunstein, Cass (2021). "Editorial Introduction: Field experiments and public policy". Behavioural Public Policy. 5: 1. doi:10.1017/bpp.2020.16. S2CID   229355469.
  3. List, John A. (2022). Voltage Effect – Home Page. ISBN   978-0593239483.
  4. List, John A. (2022). Voltage Effect – Home Page. ISBN   978-0593239483.
  5. Ammerman, Robert; Duggan, Anne; List, John; Supplee, Lauren; Suskind, Dana (January 17, 2021). "The role of open science practices in scaling evidence-based prevention programs". Prevention Science. 23 (5): 799–808. doi:10.1007/s11121-021-01322-8. PMC   9283157 . PMID   34780008 via ideas.repec.org.
  6. Gupta, Snigdha; Kane, Maggie; List, John; Sablich, Liz; Supplee, Lauren; Suskind, Dana (January 17, 2021). "Recommendations for Mitigating Threats to Scaling" via ideas.repec.org.
  7. Al-Ubaydli, Omar; List, John; Suskind, Dana (January 17, 2019). "The science of using science: Towards an understanding of the threats to scaling experiments" via ideas.repec.org.
  8. Al-Ubaydli, Omar; List, John; LoRe, Danielle; Suskind, Dana (January 17, 2017). "Scaling for economists: lessons from the non-adherence problem in the medical literature" via ideas.repec.org.
  9. "American Academy of Arts and Sciences elects nine UChicago scholars". April 20, 2011.
  10. "Economist Rankings | IDEAS/RePEc". ideas.repec.org.
  11. Edmonds, David (24 October 2020). "The man who taught Uber how to say sorry". BBC News.
  12. "John A. List | The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy". harris.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  13. "2015 Nonprofit Times Power & Influence Top 50" (PDF). Nonprofit Times. July 2015. Retrieved 2021-12-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. "2016 Nonprofit Times Power & Influence Top 50" (PDF). Nonprofit Times. August 2016. Retrieved 2021-12-22.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  15. "Prof. John List Receives Hartsook Growing Philanthropy Award | Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics | The University of Chicago". economics.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2021-12-21.
  16. "John List – Home Page" (PDF).
  17. Levitt, Steven D.; List, John A. (2007). "What Do Laboratory Experiments Measuring Social Preferences Reveal about the Real World?" (PDF). The Journal of Economic Perspectives. 21 (2): 153–174. doi:10.1257/jep.21.2.153. JSTOR   30033722.
  18. Gneezy, Uri; List, John A. (2006). "Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments" (PDF). Econometrica. 74 (5): 1365–1384. doi:10.1111/j.1468-0262.2006.00707.x. JSTOR   3805928.
  19. List, John A. (2006). "The Behavioralist Meets the Market: Measuring Social Preferences and Reputation Effects in Actual Transactions". Journal of Political Economy. 114 (1): 1–37. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.599.9754 . doi:10.1086/498587. JSTOR   10.1086/498587. S2CID   5759503.
  20. List, J. A. (1 February 2003). "Does Market Experience Eliminate Market Anomalies?" (PDF). The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 118 (1): 41–71. doi:10.1162/00335530360535144. ISSN   0033-5533.
  21. "New Economists worth knowing". 4 November 2010.
  22. List, John A.; Millimet, Daniel L.; Fredriksson, Per G.; McHone, W. Warren (1 November 2003). "Effects of Environmental Regulations on Manufacturing Plant Births: Evidence from a Propensity Score Matching Estimator" (PDF). The Review of Economics and Statistics. 85 (4): 944–952. doi:10.1162/003465303772815844. ISSN   0034-6535. S2CID   57562904.
  23. "Is the Endangered Species Act bad for endangered species? John List thinks it might be. - Freakonomics". 6 January 2007.
  24. List, John A. (2001). "Do Explicit Warnings Eliminate the Hypothetical Bias in Elicitation Procedures? Evidence from Field Auctions for Sportscards" (PDF). The American Economic Review. 91 (5): 1498–1507. doi:10.1257/aer.91.5.1498. JSTOR   2677935.
  25. http://home.uchicago.edu/~dherberich/HerberichListPrice_CFL.pdf%5B%5D
  26. List, John A.; Lucking‐Reiley, David (1 February 2002). "The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign". Journal of Political Economy. 110 (1): 215–233. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.399.3430 . doi:10.1086/324392. ISSN   0022-3808. S2CID   2606544.
  27. Karlan, Dean; List, John A. (June 2006). "Does Price Matter in Charitable Giving? Evidence From a Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment". NBER Working Paper No. 12338. doi: 10.3386/w12338 .
  28. Hall, Holly. "Bigger Matching Gifts Don't Produce More Donors" (PDF). University of Chicago.
  29. Landry, Craig; Lange, Andreas; List, John A.; Price, Michael K.; Rupp, Nicholas G. (September 2005). "Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence from a Field Experiment". NBER Working Paper No. 11611. doi: 10.3386/w11611 .
  30. DellaVigna, S.; List, J. A.; Malmendier, U. (1 February 2012). "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving". The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 127 (1): 1–56. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.153.2431 . doi:10.1093/qje/qjr050. ISSN   0033-5533. PMID   22448394. S2CID   8389271.
  31. "Want people to donate more? Remind them how good it feels to give | University of Chicago News". news.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  32. Leonhardt, David (March 9, 2008). "What Makes People Give?". The New York Times .
  33. Le Beau, Christina (2009-08-22). "Cracking the fundraising code". Crain's Chicago Business . Retrieved 2018-05-25.
  34. Roll, Abby. "Dr. John List, the science of the economics of philanthropy, and the partnership of two thought leaders". Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  35. "Science of Philanthropy Initiative". spihub.org. Retrieved 2021-12-22.
  36. Staley, Oliver (February 23, 2011). "Chicago Economist's 'Crazy Idea' Wins Ken Griffin's Backing" . Bloomberg.com.
  37. "Welcome griffincenter.org - BlueHost.com". www.griffincenter.org.
  38. "Anne and Kenneth Griffin Provide $10 Million for Multi-Year Study on School Improvement". October 8, 2009.
  39. Staley, Oliver (February 23, 2011). "Chicago Economist's 'Crazy Idea' Wins Ken Griffin's Backing". Bloomberg.
  40. "Leadership". TMW. Retrieved 2019-05-23.
  41. List, John A. (2004). "The Nature and Extent of Discrimination in the Marketplace: Evidence from the Field" (PDF). The Quarterly Journal of Economics. 119 (1): 49–89. doi:10.1162/003355304772839524. JSTOR   25098677.
  42. Dye, Lee (19 January 2011). "Why Do Women Shy From Competitive Jobs?". ABC News.
  43. Gneezy, Uri; Leonard, Kenneth L.; List, John A. (January 2008). "Gender Differences in Competition: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society". NBER Working Paper No. 13727. doi: 10.3386/w13727 .
  44. List, John A.; Haigh, Michael S. (2010). "Investment under Uncertainty: Testing the Options Model with Professional Traders". National Bureau of Economic Research. doi:10.3386/w16038.{{cite journal}}: Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  45. Alevy, Jonathan E.; Haigh, Michael S.; List, John A. (2007). "Information Cascades: Evidence from a Field Experiment with Financial Market Professionals" (PDF). The Journal of Finance. 62 (1): 151–180. doi:10.1111/j.1540-6261.2007.01204.x. JSTOR   4123459.
  46. Haigh, Michael S.; List, John A. (1 February 2005). "Do Professional Traders Exhibit Myopic Loss Aversion? An Experimental Analysis". The Journal of Finance. 60 (1): 523–534. CiteSeerX   10.1.1.202.502 . doi:10.1111/j.1540-6261.2005.00737.x. ISSN   1540-6261.
  47. "From 'Thirty Million Words' to Just Two: I Do". www.chicagomaroon.com. Archived from the original on 2019-07-08. Retrieved 2019-01-29.