Framing and Social Information Nudges at Wikipedia [Trial Registry]
with Christian Traxler
Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Vol. 188, August 2021 (Working paper)

We analyze a series of trials that randomly assigned Wikipedia users in Germany to different web banners soliciting donations. The trials varied framing or content of social information about how many other users are donating. Framing a given number of donors in a negative way increased donation rates. Variations in the communicated social information had no detectable effects. The findings are consistent with the results from a survey experiment. In line with donations being strategic substitutes, the survey documents that the negative framing lowers beliefs about others’ donations. Varying the social information, in contrast, is ineffective in changing average beliefs.

Working Papers

Dictating Development? The Effects of Local Institutions under Upward Accountability
May, 2020

This paper studies the effects of a local institution with and without upward accountability on individual behavior change in Rwanda. Throughout Rwanda, local leaders organize mandatory community meetings on Saturdays to discuss and resolve issues of community concern. I analyze the effects of meetings on contraceptive adoption and bed net acquisition, and leverage a reform that introduced performance incentives for local leaders. Both outcomes were unpopular among the population, but desired by the central government. For identification, I exploit quasi-experimental variation in meetings’ attendance over time induced by exogeneous weather fluctuations. After the reform, I find that a rainy Saturday reduces the probability of contraceptive adoption by 18% and of bed net acquisition by 10% in the same month. Before the reform, rainfall on every weekday, including Saturdays, has no effect. This pattern for two incentivized, but otherwise unrelated behavior changes points to the reform as the common underlying shift. Finally, I present evidence suggesting that behavior change is involuntary. Overall, my findings challenge the presumed downward accountability of local institutions and indicate an interdependence with performance incentives.

Work in Progress

Time Use with Basic Income: Evidence from a Large-scale Survey Experiment [Trial Registry]
September, 2020

What would people do if they receive cash with no strings attached? I study this question through a large-scale survey experiment with 72,134 respondents in Germany. Treated participants are instructed to imagine a specific Basic Income (BI) scenario and report intentions to change their current time use with this BI. In contrast, control participants are asked to think about and report intentions given their current situation. Outcomes are intended changes to time spent on seven activity fields. I find strong effects from the amount of BI, small differential effects from the duration of BI, and no different effects from the group size of BI recipients. Across all activity fields, intended changes are decreasing in the amount of BI. Overall, the results suggest small or no effects of BI on time use.

Defaults in Online Charity: Evidence from Wikipedia Germany
with Christian Traxler
September, 2020 (draft available upon request)