Public defence of thesis with Erik Gråd
Erik Gråd defends his thesis “Nudges, Prosocial Preferences & Behavior: Essays in Behavioral Economics”.
Doctoral thesis: Nudges, Prosocial Preferences & Behavior: Essays in Behavioral Economics
Research area: Politics, Economy and the Organisation of Society
Graduate School: Baltic and East European Graduate School
External reviewer: Fredrik Carlsson, Professor in Economics, University of Gothenburg
Nudges are interventions based on behavioral insights and have received a great deal of attention in recent years. This dissertation investigates how nudges may affect prosocial preferences and behavior through their intended effects, but also their unintended consequences. Essay 1 is a theoretical treatment of how nudges may affect preferences and behavior, while Essays 2 and 3 employ experimental approaches investigating the same themes. The final essay of this thesis investigates the impact of the renewable energy transition in Europe (and Eastern Europe) on employment employing the Eurostat energy database.
Essay 1 develops a theoretical model of how social preferences and behavior may evolve over time and how these preferences and behaviors are affected by various informational nudges. Traditional assumptions of both selfish and stable preferences are relaxed. An element of morality is introduced, and preferences are assumed to be endogenous and susceptible to change in response to both neighborhood effects and nudges. Results from this model include proposition on how preferences and behavior in a public goods game evolve, depending on some model specifications and parameters. Simulations are used to illustrate these movements.
Essay 2 empirically tests hypotheses springing from the theoretical model in Essay 1. A laboratory experiment is used, where participants play a repeated public goods game. Different combinations of nudges are imposed for different treatment groups, and the effects of the nudges are investigated. The results of the experiment generally show no support for the hypotheses, However, results also differ substantially from typical findings in the literature. These differences are discussed and possible venues for future research are proposed.
Essay 3 investigates potential crowding-out effects of nudges intended for promoting prosocial behavior. This article is motivated by recent theoretical and empirical evidence of nudges backfiring. An online experiment of charitable giving is used, and results indicate that nudges neither crowd out donations nor warm-glow feelings from charitable giving. The results are good news for proponents of nudges, since they show that concerns for unintended effects may have been exaggerated.
Essay 4 investigates the interlinkages between renewable and non-renewable energy sources and employment levels in the European Union. A panel-vector autoregressive model is employed, utilizing a system of equations that interlinks key variables with each other and their lags. The analysis is based on the Eurostat energy database and the World Development Indicators for the period 2000 to 2018. The results show that renewable energy has a positive and significant effect on employment levels. Furthermore, the future variations in renewable energy is projected to substantially affect future variations in employment levels both for the short and the medium term. For Eastern European countries the results are qualitatively similar to the EU, but the resulting net effect of energy consumption differs.