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Robert D. Metcalfe

Associate Professor of Economics (with tenure)

Department of Economics

University of Southern California

Co-Editor, Journal of Public Economics

Associate Editor, Journal of Political Economy: Microeconomics

Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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

Chief Economist, Centre for Net Zero, Octopus Energy Group

Curriculum Vitae  Google Scholar   RePEc  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn

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 behavioral imperfections and externalities, such as pollution, climate change, congestion, and market power.

Fields: Applied microeconomics; environmental & energy economics; behavioral & experimental economics; labor/personnel economics; public economics.

Working Papers:

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

List, J., Metcalfe, R., Price, M. Revise and resubmit, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management 

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.  Under review.

The Human Perils of Scaling Smart Technologies: Evidence from Field Experiments

Brandon, A., Clapp, C., List, J., Metcalfe, R., Price, M.  Under review.

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

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


Welfare Estimates of Shifting Peak Travel

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Tam, E. 

Management and Productivity in Retail

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

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 


Race and Redistribution in the United States: An Experimental Analysis 

Akesson, J., Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Rasooly, I.  Under review. 

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

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


The Making of Homo Honoratus: From Omission to Commission 

Hallsworth, M., List, J., Metcalfe, R., Vlaev, I. Revise and resubmit, Journal of Consumer Psychology.  

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

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

What Motivates People to Pay their Taxes? Evidence from Four Experiments on Tax Compliance 

Floyd, E., Hallsworth, M., List, J.A., Metcalfe, R., Rotaru, K., Vlaev, I. Under review.

The Impact of Fake Reviews on Demand and Welfare

Akesson, J., Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Monti-Nussbaum, M.  Under review.

Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications:

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.  (2023) Management Science

[Ungated PDF]

Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride

Butera, L., Morrison, W., Metcalfe, R., Taubinsky, D. (2022) American Economic Review 

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

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

Akesson, J., Ashworth-Hayes, S., Hahn, R., Metcalfe R., Rasooly, I. (2022) Journal of Risk and Uncertainty

Efficiency and Equity Impacts of Energy Subsidies. 

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R. (2021) American Economic Review 

[Ungated PDF] [Slides]

Understanding the Response to Financial and Non-financial Incentives in Education: Field Experimental Evidence using High-stakes Assessments

Burgess, S., Metcalfe, R., Sadoff, S. (2021Economics of Education 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

Selected work in progress:

A Welfare Analysis of Climate Change Policies  

Hahn, R., Hendren, N., Metcalfe, R., Sprung-Keyser, B.

A Welfare Analysis of Regulation 

Hahn, R., Hendren, N., Metcalfe, R., Sprung-Keyser, B.

Impact of Management on Maritime Productivity and Emissions

Metcalfe, R.

The Welfare Effect of Energy Debt Forgiveness

Akesson, J., Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Tam, E.

The Impact of Liquidity on Energy Demand 

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Tam, E.

How You Pay Matters for Demand 

Akesson, J., Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R.

Estimating Switching Costs Under Full Information 

Akesson, J., Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R. 

The Demand for Electric Vehicles

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R.

The Demand for Clean Indoor Air

Metcalfe, R., Roth, S.

The Impact of Flooding Risk Information on Search and Demand: Evidence from a Nationwide Natural Field Experiment 

Fairweather, D., Kahn, M., Metcalfe, R., Sandoval-Olascoaga, S.

English Auctions versus First-Price Sealed Bid Auctions: A Field Experimental Test of the Theory

Brooks, B., Metcalfe, R., Stalinski, M.

The Non-linear Impact of Social Norms

Akesson, J., Conti, R., Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Rasooly, I. 


Prior to joining the University of Southern California, I was an Assistant Professor at Boston University. I was also a Postdoctoral Research Scholar of Economics at the University of Chicago and a Research Fellow of Economics at the University of Oxford. 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 working class neighborhood called Gendros, in Swansea, United Kingdom. I am a first-gen college graduate. 

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

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