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Ashton Pallottini

Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, University of Chicago

Phone +1 616-581-5482

LinkedIn GitHub • Twitter

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.



Selected Work-in-Progress

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.

Paper or Plastic: Eco-labeling in the Presence of Multiple Externalities

With Joe Battles

Many eco-friendly consumers in the modern USA have begun to shun plastic single-use goods in favor of their paper substitutes. However, paper products tend to emit much more carbon than do their plastic equivalents. Two potential mechanisms may be driving this shift: (i) consumers are unaware of the relative carbon footprint of paper and plastic products or (ii) eco-friendly consumers have other environmental concerns in mind (such as wastefulness) when making this switch. We leverage a field experiment and a complementary lab experiment to test the impacts to consumer choice of single-use goods from 'eco-labeling' good-specific environmental impacts. We show that consumers are very well-informed about waste and very poorly informed about carbon. More than 90% of lab experiment participants knew that foam takes longer to break down in landfills than does paper, but only 17% knew that foam is less carbon-intense. We then show that labeling carbon on goods induces a large shift in revealed preference away from paper and towards foam. However, this shift is in part caused by (i) perverse impacts to consumers' understanding of the relative wastefulness of paper and foam and (ii) nudging impacts from labeling only one externality. When both carbon and waste are labeled, the shift towards foam is significantly tempered, in part due to the disappearance in the perverse informational and nudging impacts.

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. 

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