John List

John List

Homer J. Livingston Professor, Economics

John A. List grew up in a working-class family in Wisconsin—where his father drove trucks for a living—and learned economics in hobby markets. Dr. List is the Homer J. Livingston Professor and Chairman in the Department of Economics at the University of Chicago. He also holds a position as a National Bureau of Economic Research Associate (NBER). John is a University Fellow at the Resources for the Future, a Research Fellow at IZA (Institute for the Study of Labor), and an Extramural Fellow at the Department of Economics, Tilburg. John has previously served as a Senior Economist on the President’s Council of Economic Advisors from 2002 to 2004.

John has pioneered field experiments as a methodology for learning about behavioral principles that are shared across different domains. He has published over 150 peer-reviewed research publications, providing insights into charitable giving, public goods provision, and valuation of non-marketed goods and services. John received the 2010 Kenneth Galbraith Award and the 2008 Arrow Prize for Senior Economists for his research in behavioral economics in the field. Overall, data John has collected has provided insights into incentives for education, pricing behavior, discrimination in the marketplace, the valuation of non-marketed goods and services, public goods provision, and importantly, charitable giving. John’s research on philanthropy has been showcased in various media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, Chronicle of Philanthropy, and the New York Times. John’s most recent book, The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics Behind Everyday Life, co-authored with Uri Gneezy, has been praised by economists as a revolutionary take on behavioral economics because their findings rely on real evidence, not assumptions, about what truly works to change behavior. 


The University of Wyoming
PhD in economics, 1996

  • Dissertation Title: "Optimal Institutional Arrangements for Pollution Control"

The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
BS in economics, 1992


The University of Chicago
Chairman, Department of Economics, June 2012-present
Homer J. Livingstone Professor of Economics, Department of Economics, January 2011-present
Professor, Department of Economics, July, 2005-present

President’s Council of Economic Advisers: Environmental and Resource Economics & Empirical Economics
Senior Economist, May 2002-2004

The University of Maryland
Professor, AREC, August 2001-July 2005

The University of Arizona
Associate Professor, August 2000-August 2001

The University of Central Florida
Assistant Professor, Department of Economics, August 1996-August 2000

Books (Author)

  • The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life (PublicAffairs Publishers, 2013) (with Uri Gneezy).
  • Handbook of Experimental Economics and the Environment (Edward Elgar Publishers, 2013) (with Michael K. Price).

Book Sections

  • "Field Experiments in Markets," in Handbook of Field Experiments (Elsevier, 2017) (with Omar al-Ubaydli).
  • "How to Make Experimental Economics Research More Reproducible: Lessons from Other Disciplines and a New Proposal," in Replication in Experimental Economics, Cary Deck, Enrique Fatas & Tanya Rosenblat eds. (Emerald, 2015) (with Zacharias Maniadis & Fabio Tufano ).
  • "The Prisoner's Dilemma as Intergroup Game: an Experimental Investigation," in Handbook on Experimental Economics and the Environment (Edward Elgar Publications, 2013) (with Charles Mason & Stephan Kroll).
  • "On the Generalizabilty of Experimental Results in Economics," in Methods of Modern Experimental Economics, Andrew Schotter & G. Frechette eds. (Oxford University Press, 2013) (with Omar al-Ubaydli).

Journal Articles

  • "Gender, Age, and Competition: A Disappearing Gap?," 150 Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 256 (2018) (with Jeffrey Flory & Uri Gneezy & Kenneth Leonard ).
  • "Combining Behavioral Economics and Field Experiments to Reimagine Early Childhood Education," 2 Behavioural Public Policy 1 (2018) (with Anya Samek & Dana Suskind).
  • "Experimental Economics in the Journal of Political Economy," 125 Journal of Political Economy 1925 (2017).
  • "Introduction to The Past, Present, and Future of Economics: A Celebration of the 125-Year Anniversary of the JPE and of Chicago Economics," 125 Journal of Political Economy 1723 (2017) (with Harald Uhlig).
  • "Learned Generosity? An Artefactual Field Experiment with Parents and Their Children," 143 Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 28 (2017) (with Avner Ben-Ner & Louis Putterman & Anya Samek).
  • "The Test-Retest Reliability of The Latent Construct of Executive Function Depends on Whether Tasks Are Represented As Formative or Reflective Indicators," 23 Child Neuropsychology 822 (2017) (with Michael Willoughby & Laura Kuhn & Clancy Clair & Anya Samek ).
  • "Scaling for Economists: Lessons from the Non-Adherence Problem in the Medical Literature," 31 Journal Of Economic Perspectives 125 (2017) (with Omar al-Ubaydli & Danielle LoRe & Dana Suskind).
  • "To Replicate or Not To Replicate? Exploring Reproducibility in Economics through the Lens of a Model and a Pilot Study," 127 Economic Journal F209 (2017) (with Zacharias Maniadis & Fabio Tufano ).
  • "Discrimination Among Pre-School Children: Field Experimental Evidence," 157 Economics Letters 159 (2017) (with Annika List & Anya Samek).
  • "What Can We Learn from Experiments? Understanding the Threats to the Scalability of Experimental Results," 107 American Economic Review 282 (2017) (with Omar al-Ubaydli & Dana Suskind).
  • "The Behavioralist As Tax Collector: Using Natural Field Experiments To Enhance Tax Compliance," 148 Journal of Public Economics 14 (2017) (with Michael Hallsworth & Robert Metcalfe & Ivo Vlaev).
  • "Voting to Tell Others," 84 Review of Economic Studies 143 (2017) (with Stefano DellaVigna & Ulrike Malmendier & Gautam Rao).
  • "A Field Experiment on the Impact of Incentives on Milk Choice in the Lunchroom," 45 Public Finance Review 44 (2017) (with Anya Samek).
  • "From Personalized Exchange Towards Anonymous Trade: A Field Experiment On The Workings Of The Invisible Hand," 133 Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 313 (2017) (with Erwin Bulte & Andreas Kontoleon, Ty Turley & Maarten Voors).
  • "The Effects of Group Composition in a Strategic Environment: Evidence from a Field Experiment," 90 European Economic Review 67 (2016) (with William Neilson & Michael K. Price).
  • "Ode to the Sea: Workplace Organizations and Norms of Cooperation," 126 Economic Journal 1856 (2016) (with Uri Gneezy & Andreas Leibbrandt ).
  • "The Use of Field Experiments in Environmental and Resource Economics," 10 Review of Environmental Economics and Policy 206 (2016) (with Michael K. Price).
  • "Using Field Experiments in Accounting and Finance," 54 Journal of Accounting Research 437 (2016) (with Eric Floyd).
  • "The Effects Of Group Composition In A Strategic Environment: Evidence From A Field Experiment," Online European Economic Review __ (2016) (with William Neilson & Michael K. Price).
  • "Dishonesty: From Parents to Children," 82 European Economic Review 242 (2016) (with Dan Houser & Marco Piovesan, Anya Samek & Joachim Winter).
  • "Markets for Replication," 112 Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences of the United States Of America 15267 (2015) (with Alec Brandon).
  • "Framing Manipulations In Contests: A Natural Field Experiment," 118 Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization 372 (2015) (with Fuhai Hong & Tanjim Hossain ).
  • "Battle Of The Sexes: How Sex Ratios Affect Female Bargaining Power," 64 Economic Development and Cultural Change 143 (2015) (with Erwin Bulte & Qin Tu ).
  • "Do Women Avoid Salary Negotiations? Evidence From A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," 61 Management Science 2016 (2015) (with Andreas Leibbrandt).
  • "Field Experiments on the Anchoring of Economic Valuations," 53 Economic Inquiry 1522 (2015) (with Jonathan E. Alevy & Craig Landry ).
  • "Do Natural Field Experiments Afford Researchers More or Less Control than Laboratory Experiments?," 105 American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 462 (2015) (with Omar al-Ubaydli).
  • "Principles of (Behavioral) Economics," 105 American Economic Review: Papers & Proceedings 385 (2015) (with David Laibson).
  • "Do Competitive Work Places Deter Female Workers? A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment on Gender Differences in Job-Entry Decisions," 82 Review of Economic Studies 122 (2015) (with Andreas Leibbrandt & Jeffrey Flory).
  • "Carrots That Look Like Sticks: Toward an Understanding of Multitasking Incentive Schemes," 81 Southern Economic Journal 538 (2015) (with Omar al-Ubaydli & Steffen Andersen & Uri Gneezy ).
  • "The Behavioralist as Nutritionist: Leveraging Behavioral Economics To Improve Child Food Choice and Consumption," 39 Journal of Health Economics 135 (2015) (with Anya Samek).
  • "Field Experiments in the Developed World: An Introduction," 30 Oxford Review of Economic Policy 585 (2014) (with Robert Metcalfe).
  • "Is the Endowment Effect an Expectations Effect?," 12 Journal of the European Economic Association 1396 (2014) (with Ori Heffetz). www
  • "Equalizing Superstars: The Internet and the Democratization of Education," 104 American Economic Review __ (2014) (with David Laibson & Daron Acemoglu).
  • "One Swallow Does not Make a Summer: New Evidence on Anchoring Effects," 104 American Economic Review 227 (2014) (with Fabio Tufano & Zacharias Maniadis).
  • "Gender, Competitiveness and Socialization at a Young Age: Evidence from a Matrilineal and a Patriarchal Society," 95 Review of Economics and Statistics 1438 (2013) (with Sandra Maximiano, Uri Gneezy & Seda Ertac) (Additional author: Steffen Andersen).
  • "Toward an Understanding of why Suggestions Work in Charitable Fundraising: Theory and Evidence from a Natural Field Experiment," Journal of Public Economics __ (2013) (with James Edwards).
  • "Consumers Misunderstanding of Health Insurance," 32 Journal of Health Economics 850 (2013) (with George Loewenstein, David Laibson & Kevin Volpp) (Additional Authors: Joelle Y. Friedman, Barbara McGill, Sarah Ahmad, Suzanne Linck, Stacey Sinkula, John Beshears, James J. Choi, Jonathan Kolstad, & Brigitte C. Madrian).
  • "Exploring the origins of charitable acts: Evidence from an artefactual field experiment with young children," 118 Economic Letters 431 (2013) (with Anya Samak).
  • "The Importance of Being Marginal: Gender Differences in Generosity," 103 American Economic Review 586 (2013) (with Stefano DellaVigna, Ulrike Malmendier & Gautam Rao).
  • "Rise and fall of competitiveness in individualistic and collectivistic societies," 110 Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences of the United States Of America 9305 (2013) (with Uri Gneezy & Andreas Leibbrandt).
  • "No More Despairing over Disparities: A Dynamic Explanation of the Willingness to Pay and Willingness to Accept Disparity," 51 Economic Inquiry 909 (2013) (with Catherine Kling & Jinhua Zhao).
  • "Mental Attributes and Temporal Brain Dynamics during Bargaining: EEG Source Localization and Neuroinformatic Mapping," 7 Social Neuroscience 159 (2012) (with Burak Guclu, Seda Ertac & Ali Hortacsu).
  • "Digging into Background Risk: Experiments with Farmers and Students," 94 American Journal Of Agricultural Economics 457 (2012) (with David H. Herberich). cu
  • "Empirical Implementation of Nonparametric First-Price Auction Models," 168 Journal of Econometrics 17 (2012) (with Daniel J. Henderson, Daniel L. Millimet & Christopher F. Parmeter).
  • "Exploring Whether Behavior in Context-Free Experiments is Predictive of Behavior in the Field: Evidence from Lab and Field Experiments in Rural Sierra Leone," 114 Economic Letters 308 (2012) (with Maarten Voors, Ty Turley & Andreas Kontoleon).
  • "Charitable Giving Around the World: Thoughts on How to Expand the Pie," 58 Cesifo Economic Studies 1 (2012) (with Michael K. Price).
  • "Why Economists Should Conduct Field Experiments and 14 Tips for Pulling One Off," 25 Journal Of Economic Perspectives 3 (2011).
  • "Stakes Matter in Ultimatum Games," 101 American Economic Review 3427 (2011) (with Steffen Andersen, Seda Erta & Uri Gneezy).
  • "How Can Behavioral Economics Inform Nonmarket Valuation? An Example from the Preference Reversal Literature: Erratum," 87 Land Economics 365 (2011) (with Jonathan E. Alevy & Wiktor L. Adamowicz).
  • "Nurture Affects Gender Differences in Spatial Abilities," 108 Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences of the United States Of America 14786 (2011) (with Moshe Hoffman & Uri Gneezy).
  • "So You Want to Run an Experiment, Now What? Some Simple Rules of Thumb for Optimal Experimental Design," 14 Experimental Economics 439 (2011) (with Sally Sadoff & Mathis Wagner).

Other Publications

  • "Virgin Atlantic Tested 3 Ways to Change Employee Behavior," Harvard Business Review, August 2016 (with Robert Metcalfe & Greer Gosnell).

“The Why of Generosity: the Economics of Why We Give," Discussion at Northern Trust, March 2014; AFP Annual Conference, October 2013  

“The Why Axis: Hidden Motives and the Undiscovered Economics of Everyday Life,” Discussion at The World Bank, February 2014 

“Life is a Lab,” Norwegian School of Economics, January 2014 

“Why We Do What We Do: Economics of Human Motivation,” Discussion at the Atlanta Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, October 2013 

“Life as a Laboratory: Using Field Experiments in Economics,” and “Field Experiments in the Economics of Crime,” Malim Harding Lectureship at the University of Toronto, October 2013 

“Using Field Experiments in Economics,” Henry George Lecture at University of Scranton, October 2013; Marburg Lecture at Marquette University, November 2012; First Annual FTC Microeconomics Conference, November 2008 

“Field Experiments as a Scientific Revolution in Charity,” AFP Annual Conference, October 2013  

“Using Field Experiments in Business, Government Policy, and to Make Your Life Better,” Cologne Conference on Field Experiments, August 2013  

“Field Experiments in the Social Sciences,” Tiber, Tilburg, The Netherlands, August 2013 

“Using Field Experiments to Aid Classroom Instruction,” AEA Conference on Teaching, May 2013  

“Field Experiments in Economics,” Claremont McKenna Lecture, April 2012 

“Using Field Experiments to Explore the Economics of Crime,” UC San Diego Conference on Deception in Economics, April 2012  

“Using Field Experiments to Teach Economics,” University of Kentucky Economics Teaching Workshop, March, 2012  

“Why Accountants Should Care about Field Experiments,” American Economics Association, January 2012 

“Using Field Experiments in Accounting,” American Accounting Association, January 2012

“Using Field Experiments in Environmental and Resource Economics," American Association of Agricultural Economics Gailbrath Lecture, July 2010

“Using Field Experiments to Learn About the Economics of Charity,” Association of Lutheran Development Executives, February 2010; PET, Lyon, France, June 2009; Area Conference on Public Sector Economics, CES IFO, April 2009; Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, April 2009; AFP Chicago's 13th Annual Midwest Conference on Philanthropy, October 2008

“What Makes People Give? Using Field Experiments to Learn about the Economics of Charity," Association of Lutheran Development Executives, October, 2008

"What Makes People Give? Charitable Fundraising: View from an Economist," Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, April 2008

“Field Experiments, with Select Applications,” 10th Experimental Economics Days, Dijon, France, 2008

“Field Experiments in Public Economics,” Association of Environmental and Resource Economics Annual World Meetings, 2007

“Field Experiments,” NAKE Lectures, 2007; European Economics Association Annual Meetings, 2006; Australasian Econometric Society Meetings, 2006; Canadian Economic Association Meetings State of the Art Lecture, 2006


  • NBER Research Associate (September 2005-present)
    Faculty Research Fellow (May 2003-September 2005)
  • Institute for the Study of Labor Research Fellow (July 2004-present)
  • Resources for the Future University Fellow (July 2004-present)
  • Extramural Fellow, Department of Economics, Tilburg University (September 2003-present)


  • Yrjo Jahnsson Lecture Prize (2012)
  • Fellow, American Academy of Arts and Sciences (April 2011)
  • Kenneth Galbraith Award, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association (2010)
  • Arrow Prize for Senior Economists, BE Press (2008)
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (May 2008)
  • Distinguished Alumnus Award, University of Wyoming (May 2004)
  • 1st Place Competitive Paper Award, FMA (September 2004)
  • Carl H. Galloway Award for Best Undergraduate Teacher in the Department of Economics, College of Business Administration, University of Central Florida (1997, 1998, 1999, 2000)
  • Carl H. Galloway Award for Best Graduate Teacher in the Department of Economics, College of Business Administration, University of Central Florida (August 1997)
  • Recipient, John Bugas Award for Most Outstanding Graduate Student in Economics, University of Wyoming (1995 and 1996)
  • NCAA Academic All-American in Golf, University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point (1990 and 1991)


  • Editor, Management Science (June 2011-present)
  • Editorial Board, Letters in Spatial and Resource Economics (December 2006-present); The B.E. Journals in Economic Analysis & Policy (June 2004-present); Experimental Economics (May 2004-present)
  • Co-Editor, Environmental and Resource Economics (August 2001-August 2004; July 2005-present); Journal of Economic Perspectives (January 2010-January 2013); Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (July 2004-2010)
  • Scientific Advisory Board, Environmental and Resource Economics (May 2004-present)
  • Editorial Council, Journal of Environmental Economics and Management (July 2001-present)
  • Associate Editor, Journal of Regional Science (March 2001-present)
  • Special Issue Editor, Scandinavian Journal of Economics: Field Experiments in Economics (2013); Journal of Economics Management: Field Experiments in Economics (2013); Journal of Public Economics: The Economics of Charity (2010); Journal of Public Economics: Using Experiments in Public Economics (2005); Experimental Economics: Special Issue on Field Experiments in Charity (2008); Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization: Field Experiments in Economics (2008); Advances in Economic Analysis & Policy: Field Experiments (2006 and 2007)
  • Associate Editor (Board of Editors), Journal of Economic Literature (December 2006-2011); American Economic Review (May 2004-2010)


  • EPA Science Advisory Board (September 2006-present)
  • Economic Science Association, Section Head: Experimental Methods (November 2003-2005)
  • EPA Grant Advisory Board (2001)