Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, University of Chicago
Welcome! I am a Ph.D. student in the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics at University of Chicago. My research is on Energy and Environmental Economics, with particular focus on experimental methodology.
Paper or Plastic: Impacts to Consumers from Eco-labeling
Consumer misconceptions about the environmental impacts of goods, particularly regarding carbon emissions, are prevalent in the United States and Europe. There is growing support among European lawmakers and American environmentalists for carbon labeling, aiming to directly inform consumers about the carbon emissions associated with each product. While carbon labeling has the potential to enhance consumer knowledge and welfare, it also has drawbacks. In the case of single-use goods, we find that eco-labeling may have unintended consequences. Through two Prolific experiments involving American consumers, we identify perverse informational effects resulting from incomplete eco-labeling of negatively correlated environmental impacts. Consumers mistakenly perceive a positive correlation between carbon emissions and wastefulness (time to decompose) in single-use goods. When presented with a label that solely indicates carbon content, consumers become on average more poorly informed about the wastefulness of the product. We further document that labeling only one environmental impact may alter consumer preferences through increasing salience of the lone labeled impact. Notably, our revealed preference exercise shows that consumer behavior only changes when subjected to carbon labeling, while labeling both carbon and waste does not alter behavior. In a follow-up experiment, we vary the medium through which consumers receive information on carbon and waste in order to isolate mechanisms. We find that improved understanding of carbon and altered preferences from salience in unilateral labeling explain roughly half each of the observed behavioral change, whereas decreased understanding of waste has little impact. Depending on the relative sizes of social costs and willingnesses-to-pay, policymakers may thus find either of carbon or carbon-and-waste labels to be preferable for implementation.
The Onset of Offsets: The Limits of Social Signaling in Eco-friendliness
Citizens in the USA spend a large amount of time, effort, and money engaging in voluntary actions to improve environmental quality. The motivation behind these actions is not clearly understood. They could be driven by private desire for improved environmental quality or by a social desire to signal eco-friendliness. To determine if these actions are driven by private or social considerations, we run an experiment that manipulates the publicity of carbon offset purchases, posting some consumers' names online and giving them share-able certificates that confirm their purchase. On average, the public treatment does very little to increase uptake. However, the public treatment more than doubles uptake (14% to 31%) among those that have small second-order beliefs -- those that believe that everyone else thinks that carbon offsets are rare. This points to consumers receiving social utility from being first-movers on an eco-friendly action, though this social utility erodes quickly as consumers grow to believe that others will not see them as first-movers. Such a finding has broader implications to the usage of social signaling to increase uptake of other novel prosocial actions.
EV or not EV: the Origins of Misconceptions about Environmental Impacts
With Sofia Shchukina
That is the question. In this paper, we examine the root causes of ineffective actions taken by eco-friendly consumers. Electric vehicles are touted as 'zero-emission' vehicles but have effects in the US that vary by location. We propose to document large misconceptions about environmental impacts from EVs. We further propose to document how informing consumers about the true impacts of EVs from driving in their location alters revealed preference behavior among current and prospective EV owners. Finally, we examine behavioral mechanisms that impact the updating of beliefs and actions among consumers. We test for motivated reasoning and analyze consumer willingness to pay to receive information about EV impacts. Negative WTPs is indicative of motivated reasoning and informs policymakers on impacts to welfare from similar information treatments. We also test for the presence of social pressure in purchasing EVs, as consumers who are motivated by social signaling will continue to take an ineffective action so long as their in-group thinks it is effective. To do this, we experimentally manipulate first- and second-order beliefs, comparing the effects of each.
Economic Anxiety: Migration Costs in the Presence of Worsening Climate
Populist movements in the 2010s US and UK both had intimate ties to migration. In the US, many political pundits attributed rising anti-migrant sentiment to "economic anxiety" - stress about negative economic shocks. In the UK, Brexit was in part driven by a large influx of refugee migration. Anecdotally then, anti-migrant sentiment seems to rise when there are negative economic shocks or when the quantity of migrants increases. This has dire implications for climate change. Many assessments on the costs of climate change have pointed to adaptation via migration as being a huge channel for mitigating welfare losses. Yet, these assessments have not accounted for the impacts to migration costs brought about by increased anti-migrant sentiment. In this paper, we present an experiment which tests whether shifting perceptions about number of migrants or impacts from climate change causes support for migration to change. We separately establish whether waning support is driven by negative economic shocks associated with climate change or increased strain from a larger number of migrants.
University of Chicago
ECON 21020: Econometrics (Undergraduate)
Spring 2023: Teaching Assistant reporting to Murilo Ramos
ECON 41120: Topics in Behavioral Economics (Ph.D.)
Winter 2023: Teaching Assistant reporting to Leonardo Bursztyn
ECON 20010: Elements of Economic Analysis I Honors (Undergraduate)
Fall 2022: Teaching Assistant reporting to Victor Lima
BUSN 33801: Microeconomics (EMBA)
Fall 2022 and Fall 2023: Teaching Assistant reporting to Lars Stole
Michigan State University
STT 200: Statistical Methods (Undergraduate)
Summer 2020: Fixed Term Instructor reporting to Camille Fairbourn
Fall 2019 - Spring 2020: Teaching Assistant reporting to Harish Sankaranarayanan
When not poring over my studies in the Saieh Hall grad lounge, you can find me repeatedly lifting heavy things and promptly setting them back down. Scientists hypothesize that one day the process will be automated and I can live my life like a person in Wall-E. Until that date, I bravely venture forth to the squat rack (after a 10-15 minute wait in line, of course).
Many economists have beautiful minds that have taken in the brilliant works of Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, and even Karl Marx. Yet, how many of them can claim to have gone toe-to-toe with Robert Jordan's "The Wheel of Time" series and come out on top? I can. In fact, I was so bold as to do it while undergoing UChicago's infamous first year core sequence. Talk about a slog! When not reading about Rand al'Thor and friends, I also love a good book by Brandon Sanderson, Joe Abercrombie, Mark Lawrence, or Steven Erikson.
Ever met a tone-deaf person that can speak Chinese? No? Well, you still have not! But I am certainly working on it. Picking up (Mandarin) Chinese is proving to be incredibly challenging, but with great rewards. My goal is to be proficient by the time I go on the job market, and I am making good progress on the "owl app". I am also planning on soon picking up where I left off with Spanish in my high school days. My days of monolingualism are numbered!
My one true passion! I am looking forward to the days when I am an old washed-up has-been economist who can ride off into the sunset by writing sports economics papers. As a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I am currently thinking up economic models of optimal QB hand size. In the mean-time, I will continue to vicariously relive Steve Nash's glory days by wearing a headband every time I play pickup basketball.