Ongoing research at the Chair of Economic Policy covers topics in Public Economics and Behavioral Economics. A current focus is on individual compliance decisions, especially in the context of tax compliance and public good provision. For example, several projects analyze tax compliance and tax fraud, or how individuals’ motivation for voluntary contributions (donations) relates to tax morale. Recent projects extend the focus on compliance to topics including racial discrimination and work performance under monitoring.



New Research and Work in Progress:


  • Online Teaching Effectiveness

    In several projects, we study the effectiveness of online teaching. In an RCT, we study the effects of remote peer mentoring at a German university that switched to online teaching due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is a structured mentoring program featuring mentors and mentees meeting one-on-one online to discuss topics like self-organization and study techniques. We find positive impacts on motivation, studying behavior, and exam registrations. The intervention does not seem to shift earned credits on average, but we demonstrate strong positive effects on the most able students. In contrast to prior research, effects are more pronounced for male students. Further analyses on the effects of online teaching based on comprehensive registry data from a large German university are in progress.


  • Personality Traits, Sorting into College Major, and Academic Achievement

    We run a large-scale survey of personality traits and economic preferences among students at a large German university. The survey is administered a few days into the students’ first term and thus captures traits at baseline. We combine the survey data with comprehensive registry data until graduation to study how traits affect sorting into majors, and to explore which traits predict academic achievement conditional on sorting.


  • Monitoring and Work Performance

    This project investigates the motivational effects of monitoring technologies on work performance by means of an online experiment. In a principal agent situation with a real-effort task, the principal chooses the monitoring intensity and the agent her respective effort level in the task. The treatments identify a crowding-out of intrinsic motivation caused by performance monitoring.


  • Racial Discrimination in Seeking Advice

    This project sets up a new type of online experiment to study racial discrimination in seeking advice. The experimental design overcomes the long-standing problem of distinguishing between belief-driven and animus-driven discrimination. The project further contributes to a sparse literature focusing situations in which discriminative behavior is costly to the discriminating individual.


  • Social Recognition and Exit Decisions

    In a large-scale field experiment with several hundred thousand subjects, we investigate how social recognition affects exit decisions in a context where members of a community jointly finance a public good and subjects can avoid payment by means of an exit decision. We show that social recognition for staying (and thus for contributing) has heterogeneous effects, and that the treatment effect on the willingness to stay varies systematically with the price of community membership.


  • Who to Target in Fundraising? A Field Experiment on Gift Exchange

    This project studies the optimal targeting of gifts in fundraising. We implement a randomized field experiment in a setting where a fundraiser sends out annual solicitation letters to a large population of individuals. Three treatment groups are compared: a control group, a gift treatment group, and a gift-plus-recognition treatment group. We identify a distinct heterogeneity in responses to the gift treatment: both the extensive margin and the intensive margin effects are hump-shaped with respect to donors' baseline willingness to donate, translating into a hump-shaped average treatment effect. Due to the heterogeneity, up-front gifts are cost effective only for individuals with a moderate baseline probability to donate. Targeting the gift to those individuals leads to net revenue gains of 37.3 percent relative to a uniform provision of the gift. We also demonstrate that gifts are not profitable if they are framed in terms of recognition for past donations. The latter finding suggests that behavior in gift exchange is mostly driven by reciprocity concerns.



Discussion Papers:





  • Haufler, A. & J. Rincke (2009): Wer trägt bei der Jahrestagung des Vereins für Socialpolitik vor? Eine empirische Analyse, Perspektiven der Wirtschaftspolitik 10, 123-145.

  • Büttner, T. & J. Rincke (2007): Labor Market Effects of Economic Integration - The Impact of Re-Unification in German Border Regions, German Economic Review 8, 536-560.

  • Büttner, T., M. Kraus & J. Rincke (2003): Hochschulranglisten als Qualitätsindikatoren im Wettbewerb der Hochschulen, Vierteljahrshefte zur Wirtschaftsforschung 72, 252-270.