Robert D. Metcalfe

Visiting Associate Professor

Department of Economics

University of Southern California


Assistant Professor

Reidy Family Career Development Assistant Professorship

Markets, Public Policy, & Law

Questrom School of Business

Boston University

Faculty Research Fellow, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Affiliate, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) 

Affiliate, E2e Project, UC Berkeley

I am an applied microeconomist, where my research focuses on using field experimental methods to understand human behavior in consumer markets and within organizations. A running theme in my research is to understand such behavior and the measurement of welfare in the presence of market imperfections and externalities.  

Many of my projects have led to testing economic theory in collaboration with industry and government partners, such as Virgin Atlantic Airlines, Uber, Lyft, Opower, Oracle Utilities, Southern California Gas, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), Office Depot, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Viasat, British Gas, British Telecom, San Antonio Water System (SAWS), the YMCA, Bernhard Schulte Shipmanagement, the U.S. Social Security Administration, and the U.K. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. 

Curriculum VitaeGoogle ScholarRePEcTwitter

 Working Papers:

Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride

Butera, L., Morrison, W., Metcalfe, R., Taubinsky, D. 

Conditionally accepted at the American Economic Review 

[Slides]  [Click for Charity user interface]  [Download QSF files for Prolific version]

Using Big Data to Estimate Consumer Surplus: The Case of Uber 

Cohen, P.,  Hahn, R.,  Hall, J., Metcalfe, R.,  Levitt, S. 

Revision requested, Journal of Political Economy 


Can Myopic Loss Aversion Explain the Equity Premium Puzzle? Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment with Professional Traders 

Larson, F., List, J., Metcalfe, R.

Reject and resubmit, Econometrica 


The Value of Time in the United States: Estimates from Nationwide Natural Field Experiments

Goldszmidt, A., List, J., Metcalfe, R., Muir, I., Smith, K., Wang, J. 

Reject and resubmit at the American Economic Review

Smart Meters: Do Their Prices Matter to Their Adoption and Do They Save Energy? 

List, J., Metcalfe, R., Price, M.

Revise and resubmit at the Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 

Understanding the response to financial and non-financial incentives in education: Field experimental evidence using high-stakes assessments

Burgess, S., Metcalfe, R., Sadoff, S.

Revise and resubmit at the Economics of Education Review

Fatalism, Beliefs, and Behaviors During the COVID-19 Pandemic  

Akesson, J., Ashworth-Hayes, S., Hahn, R., Metcalfe R., Rasooly, I. (submitted)

Do the Effects of Social Nudges Persist? Theory and Evidence from 38 Natural Field Experiments 

Brandon, A., Ferraro, P., List, J., Metcalfe, R., Price, M., Rundhammer, F. 


The Making of Homo Honoratus: From Omission to Commission 

Hallsworth, M., List, J., Metcalfe, R., Vlaev, I.  

Harnessing Policy Complementarities to Conserve Energy: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment 

List, J., Metcalfe, R., Price, M., Rundhammer, F. (submitted)  


Nudging Timely Wage Reporting: Field Experimental Evidence from the U.S. SSI Program 

Zhang, C.Y., Hemmeter, J., Kessler, J.B., Metcalfe, R., Weathers, R. (submitted)

How Can We Increase Tax Compliance? Evidence from Two Natural Field Experiments 

Floyd, E., Hallsworth, M., List, J.A., Metcalfe, R., Vlaev, I. (submitted)

Measuring Welfare when Prices Differ from Marginal Cost  

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Tam, E. Coming soon.

Management and Productivity in the Retail Sector 

Metcalfe, R., Sollaci, A., Syverson, C. Coming soon.

The Income Elasticity of Energy Demand. 

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Tam, E. Coming soon.

The Impact of Fake Reviews on Consumer Choice and Welfare

Akesson, J., Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Rasooly, I. Coming soon.


Attention and Information Frictions in Consumer Choice 

Akesson, J., Hahn, R., Mahler, A., Metcalfe, R. Coming soon.

Smart Technologies, Dumb Humans: The Perils of Scaling Household Technologies

Brandon, A., Clapp, C., List, J., Metcalfe, R., Price, M. Coming soon.


Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications:

Efficiency and Equity Impacts of Energy Subsidies. 

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R. (forthcoming)

American Economic Review 

[Ungated PDF]

The Impact of Management Practices on Employee Productivity: A Field Experiment with Airline Captains. 

Gosnell. G., List, J., Metcalfe, R. (2020)

 Journal of Political Economy Lead article 

[Harvard Business Review] [Ungated PDF[Slides

Testing for Crowd Out in Social Nudges: Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment in the Market for Electricity. 

Brandon, A., List, J., Metcalfe, R., Price, M., Rundhammer, F. (2019)

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States

Quantifying the Intangible Impact of the Olympics Using Subjective Well-Being Data. 

Dolan, P., Kavetsos, G., Krekel, C., Mavridis, D., Metcalfe, R., Senik, S., Szymanski, S., Ziebarth, N. (2019)

Journal of Public Economics  


Students' Effort and Educational Achievement: Using the Timing of the World Cup to Vary the Value of Leisure. 

Metcalfe, R., Burgess, S., Proud, S. (2019)

Journal of Public Economics

The Behavioralist as Tax Collector: Using Natural Field Experiments to Enhance Tax Compliance. 

Hallsworth, M., List, J., Metcalfe, R., Vlaev, I. (2017) 

Journal of Public Economics


Prior to joining Boston University, I was a Postdoctoral Research Scholar in Economics at the University of Chicago and a Research Fellow in Economics at the University of Oxford (Merton College). I have previously worked in the U.K. Government as an Economist, and had a short-term position as a Fellow at the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of the U.S. President.  I completed my Ph.D. at Imperial College London, M.Sc. at the London School of Economics, and B.A. at the University of Wales, Swansea.  I grew up in a neighborhood called Gendros, in Swansea, United Kingdom.  

I am also co-founder of two start-ups, The Behavioralist and Signol