John List


Homer J. Livingston Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago

My research focuses on using economic theory and empirical tools to further economic science. While much of my time has been spent developing experimental methods to address both positive and normative issues, I also am interested in developing economic theory and using naturally occurring data. My passion, however, is using field experiments to explore economic questions. I view field experiments as representing a unique manner in which to obtain data because they force the researcher to understand everyday phenomena, many of which we stumble upon frequently. Merely grasping the interrelationships of factors in field settings is not enough, however, as the field experimenter must then seek to understand more distant phenomena that have the same underlying structure. Until this is achieved, one cannot reap the true rewards of field experimentation. For a fuller exposition of my views on field experimentation, take a look at a recent interview with Aaron Steelman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

To obtain data for my field experiments, I have made use of several different markets, including countless charitable fundraising activities, the Chicago Board of Trade, Costa Rican CEOs, the new automobile market, sports memorabilia markets, coin markets, auto repair markets, open air markets located throughout the globe, various venues on the internet, several auction settings, shopping malls, various labor markets, and grammar and high schools.

More recently, I have been engaged in a series of field experiments with various publicly traded corporations—from car manufacturers to travel companies. I view this as exciting because I can put economic theories and approaches on the line in the markets economists concern themselves. Not only have results proven to be informative and valuable, but also above expectations, as successful field experiments yielding quite interesting data patterns have been generated. Overall, the data that I have collected has provided insights into many subsets of microeconomics including pricing behavior, discrimination in the marketplace, the valuation of non-marketed goods and services, public good provisioning, behavioral anomalies, charitable giving, auction theory, and the role of the market in the development of rationality.

Below you will find various areas that my research has touched. Please click on the images to see my research.




John's Old Website