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Behavioral Economics

Spring 2016 Awards Approved in RSF Programs

March 21, 2016

Several new research projects in the Russell Sage Foundation’s programs on Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration, Social Inequality, and Behavioral Economics were funded at the Foundation’s February meeting of the Board of Trustees. Four new projects in the special initiative on the Social, Economic, and Political Effects of the Affordable Care Act were jointly funded with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Race, Ethnicity, and Immigration:

Ethnicity and English-Language Proficiency and Experiences with Crime and Police: A Multi-Level Analysis of Restricted Data from the National Crime Victimization Survey
Eric Baumer and John Iceland (Pennsylvania State University)

Baumer and Iceland will analyze restricted-use survey data on incidents of crime and crime reporting, along with demographic Census data and police department data, to explore whether and how ethnicity and English-language proficiency correlate with immigrants’ crime reporting and law enforcement’s official responses to those reported crimes.

Cast as a Criminal: How Moral Typecasting Leads to Racial Prejudice
Kurt Gray (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Keith Payne (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), and Jazmin Brown-Iannuzzi (University of Kentucky)

Gray, Payne, and Brown-Iannuzzi will explore whether moral typecasting can help explain aggressive law enforcement tactics towards non-whites, especially black men. They will examine the role of typecasting in situations of heightened ambiguity, such as adolescence (not a child but not an adult) and whether this leads law enforcement to be biased against black adolescent males.

Announcing the Twelfth Summer Institute in Behavioral Economics

January 13, 2016

The Russell Sage Foundation’s Behavioral Economics Roundtable will sponsor the twelfth Summer Institute in Behavioral Economics, to be held in Waterville Valley, New Hampshire from June 27 to July 9, 2016. The purpose of this workshop is to introduce graduate students and beginning faculty in economics and related disciplines to the findings and methods of behavioral economics—the application of psychological theory and research to economics. The program will include topics on psychological foundations such as decision-making under risk and uncertainty, intertemporal choice, biases in judgment, mental accounting, and social preferences, as well as the implications of these foundations for savings behavior, labor markets, development economics, finance, public policy, and other economic topics.

Faculty who have completed their Ph.D. program since April 2015 or Ph.D. students who will have completed at least one year of their graduate program by July 2016 are eligible to apply. Complete applications, including letters of recommendation, must be received by Friday, March 11, 2016.

Call for Papers: Early-Career Behavioral Economists

December 21, 2015

The newly founded Behavior and Inequality Research Institute has announced that the second Early-Career Behavioral Economics Conference will take place in Bonn, Germany on June 24-25, 2016. The first Early-Career Behavioral Economics Conference was held in July 2015 and was sponsored by the Russell Sage Foundation.

The goal of the conference is to allow researchers at the early stages of their career to present their work and receive feedback from peers and junior faculty members, who will serve as discussants. It will also help develop a strong community of junior behavioral economists. Graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and assistant professors who received their Ph.D. after Spring 2011 are all eligible to apply.

Click here to visit the Early-Career Behavioral Economist Conference home page for more information on the conference and on how to submit papers.

Fall 2015 Presidential Authority Awards

November 19, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation has recently approved the following Presidential Authority awards in three of its program areas—Future of Work, Social Inequality, and Behavioral Economics—as well as three conferences for upcoming issues of the RSF journal.

RSF Journal Conferences:

The Coleman Report at 50: Its Legacy and Enduring Value
Karl Alexander and Stephen Morgan (Johns Hopkins University)

For an upcoming issue of RSF, Karl Alexander and Stephen Morgan organized a symposium featuring fourteen invited articles for the fiftieth anniversary of the quality of the 1966 Educational Opportunity Report, or “Coleman Report,” which assessed the lack of equal educational opportunities for minority children in the U.S. The issue will examine the Report’s methods and its substantive conclusions through the lens of advances over the past half century across several social science disciplines.

Undocumented Immigration
Roberto G. Gonzales (Harvard University) and Steven Raphael (University of California, Berkeley)

For an upcoming issue of RSF, Roberto Gonzales and Steven Raphael organized a symposium featuring nine articles that examine the effects of federal, state, and local policy on immigrants’ experience of living undocumented and explore how undocumented status affects social mobility and civic participation.

Wealth Inequality
Fabian Pfeffer and Robert Schoeni (University of Michigan)

For an upcoming issue of the RSF, Fabian Pfeffer and Robert Schoeni organized a symposium featuring nine articles that examine the determinants of high and rising levels of wealth inequality, its economic and social consequences, and potential policy responses.

Announcing the Launch of RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences

November 17, 2015

The Russell Sage Foundation is pleased to announce the publication of its new social science journal, RSF: The Russell Sage Foundation Journal of the Social Sciences. RSF will promote cross-disciplinary collaborations on timely topics of interest to social scientists and other academic researchers, policymakers, and the public at large.

Of the new journal RSF president Sheldon Danziger says, "RSF builds upon the foundation's long history of publishing and disseminating rigorously evaluated social science research. As a peer-reviewed, open-access publication, RSF provides a prestigious outlet for original empirical research by both established and emerging scholars."

The inaugural double issue of RSF, edited by sociologist Matthew Desmond (Harvard University), focuses on families experiencing "severe deprivation," or acute, compounded, and persistent economic hardship. In this issue, a distinguished roster of poverty scholars from multiple disciplines examine how the Great Recession, plus factors such as rising housing costs, welfare reform, mass incarceration, suppressed wages, and pervasive joblessness have contributed to deepening poverty in America. Click here to read the full open-access issue online.

A number of issues of RSF are scheduled for publication, including "The Elementary and Secondary Education Act at Fifty and Beyond," edited by David A. Gamson (Pennsylvania State University), Kathryn A. McDermott (University of Massachusetts, Amherst), and Douglas S. Reed (Georgetown University), which will be released in December.

David Laibson Joins RSF Board of Trustees

November 9, 2015

The Foundation is pleased to announce the appointment of economist David Laibson to the Board of Trustees. Laibson is the Robert I. Goldman Professor of Economics and Chairman of the Department of Economics at Harvard University. He leads Harvard Universityʼs Foundations of Human Behavior Initiative and is the co-organizer of RSF’s Summer Institute in Behavioral Economics. His research focuses on behavioral economics, with emphasis on household finance, macroeconomics, aging, and intertemporal choice.

In addition to serving as a trustee of the Russell Sage Foundation, Laibson also serves on the boards of Harvardʼs Pension Investment Committee, the Social Science Genetics Association Consortium, and the Academic Research Council of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. He is a member of the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he co-directs the National Institute of Aging Roybal Center for Behavior Change in Health and Savings, and is a Research Associate in the Aging, Asset Pricing, and Economic Fluctuations Working Groups.

New Awards Approved in Russell Sage Foundation’s Core Programs

July 8, 2015

Several new research projects in the Russell Sage Foundation’s core programs were funded at the Foundation’s June meeting of the Board of Trustees.

Awards approved in the Behavioral Economics program:

Mental Accounting and Fungibility of Money: Evidence from a Retail Panel
Jesse Shapiro (Harvard University) and Justine Hastings (Brown University)

Jesse Shapiro and Justine Hastings will complete a project that provide new tests of "mental accounting," or how households represent money in their financial decision-making. They will draw from unique panel data on seven years of customer purchases from a large grocery retailer in order to glean new insights into mental accounting through a real-world scenario.

Behavioral Biases and the Design of Student Loan Repayment Schemes
Lesley J. Turner, Kathleen Abraham, Emel Filiz-Ozbay, and Erkut Ozbay (University of Maryland)

Lesley J. Turner and colleagues will investigate the factors that affect students’ loan repayments, including the relationship between students’ expected earnings and their preference for income-based repayment plans, and whether students’ repayment behavior is affected by whether they voluntarily choose income-based plan or are instead assigned to one.

Quantal Response Equilibrium and the Limitations of Game Theory

February 18, 2015

This feature is part of an ongoing RSF blog series, Work in Progress, which highlights some of the ongoing research of our current class of Visiting Scholars.

During his time in residence at the Russell Sage Foundation, Thomas Palfrey (California Institute of Technology) is writing a book on Quantal Response Equilibrium (QRE) and its applications to the social sciences. Developed by Palfrey and Richard McKelvey, QRE is a game theory concept that is now one of the leading approaches to modeling bounded rationality—the idea that individuals’ rationality is limited by the information they have—in games.

In a new interview with the Foundation, Palfrey explained some of the basic applications of game theory to public policy, and the limitations of those approaches.

Q. What is Nash Equilibrium? How has it been applied to public policy, and what are its limitations?

Call for Papers in Behavioral Economics

December 17, 2014

On July 8-9, 2015, the Russell Sage Foundation will sponsor a Conference for Early-Career Behavioral Economists in Chicago. The goals of this conference are to allow early-career researchers to present research and receive feedback and to help develop a community of junior behavioral economists.

Any early-career behavioral economist can apply. This includes graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and assistant professors who received their Ph.D. after Spring 2010. We expect to select about 20 presenters. Please submit an abstract of about 1000 words of the proposed paper and an abbreviated CV (5 pages maximum) by January 31, 2015, to If financial assistance is needed in order for you to participate, please provide details in a cover letter, including whether your university may provide funding to cover some of your expenses.

New Awards Approved in Core RSF Programs

November 19, 2014

Thirteen new research projects in the Russell Sage Foundation’s Behavioral Economics, Social Inequality, Immigration, and the Future of Work programs were recently funded at the Foundation’s November 2014 meeting of the Board of Trustees.

The Foundation’s Behavioral Economics program supports research that incorporates the insights of psychology and other social sciences into the study of economic behavior. The following projects were recently funded under the program:

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