Robert D. Metcalfe

Associate Professor of Economics (with tenure)

Department of Economics

University of Southern California

Research Associate, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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

Affiliate, E2e Project, UC Berkeley

Curriculum Vitae  |  RePEc  |  Twitter  |  LinkedIn


Over 5,000 cites on Google Scholar

Top 1% of all economists for last 10 years on RePEc

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, such as pollution, climate change, congestion, and market power.

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

 Working Papers:

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

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 


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 

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

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

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

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


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. 


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)


Selected Peer-Reviewed Publications:

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. (2021)

Economics 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 Unified Theory of Welfare Under Regulation: An Application to Environmental and Climate Change Policy 

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

Measuring Welfare when Prices Differ from Marginal Cost: An Application in Congestion Pricing

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R., Tam, E. 

Management and Productivity 

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

Income Taxes versus Commodity Taxes: An Application to Energy Demand 

Hahn, R., Hendren, N., Metcalfe, R. 

The Welfare Effect of Debt Forgiveness

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

The Salience of Paying for Energy: A Natural Field Experiment with 2 million Households 

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

Attention and Information Frictions in Consumer Choice 

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

The Demand for Electric Vehicles

Hahn, R., Metcalfe, R.

The Demand for Clean Indoor Air

Metcalfe, R., Roth, S.

Impact of Flooding Information on Property Search and Purchases: Evidence from a Nationwide Natural Field Experiment 

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

The Impact of Fake Reviews on Consumer Demand and Welfare

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

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. 

The Impact of Race Beliefs on Preferences for Redistribution

Akesson, J., 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 start-ups, The Behavioralist and Signol