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, the U.S. Social Security Administration, and the U.K. Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs. 

 Working Papers:

Efficiency and Equity Impacts of Energy Subsidies. 

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R.

Conditionally accepted at the American Economic Review (paper embargoed)

Measuring the Welfare Effects of Shame and Pride.

Butera, L., Morrison, W., Metcalfe, R., Taubinsky T. [Slides]  [Click for Charity user interface]  [Download QSF files for Prolific version]

Revise and resubmitted at the American Economic Review

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 [Slides] 

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 [Slides] 

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 

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. [Slides]

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.  


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)

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.. Coming soon.

Measuring Welfare in Regulated Markets. 

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.


Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications:

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  [Slides]

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

Burgess, S., Metcalfe, R., 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. and M.Sc. at Imperial College London and the London School of Economics respectively.  I grew up in Swansea, UK.  My CV is here.  For more academic and policy papers, please see Google Scholar, RePEc.  

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