Another $1,000 at Stake in the Gneezy-List Book Title Experiment

A couple weeks ago, Uri Gneezy and John List asked our blog readers to come up with titles for their new book.  And our readers did not disappoint!  There were over 400 suggestions, many of them brilliant.

The authors and their editors have now narrowed it down to five choices, and they once again are asking for your help in deciding on the final title.  There is no better way to solicit that input than -- you guessed it -- a field experiment.  To get you interested, they are putting up another $1,000 in prizes to participants.

The rules are simple: You go here and answer  two simple questions.

First, you will be asked to choose which of the five titles you think will be the most popular among all the respondents.  They don't want to know your favorite title, they want to know the title you think other people will like best.

Here’s Your Chance to Name a (Soon-to-Be) Best-Selling Book and Win $1,000

 My close friend, colleague, and frequent co-author John List has written a popular (non-academic) book with another economist, Uri Gneezy.  John and Uri are pioneers in the area of “field experiments” which bring the power of randomized experiments into real-world settings.   In my opinion, field experiments are the future of empirical economics.  We’ve written at length in our books and on our blog about the amazing work these two have been doing. I’ve had the chance to read John and Uri’s book, and I loved it.

The thing they can’t figure out, however, is what to call the book!  If only my sister Linda – the greatest namer of things the world has ever known — were still around, she would figure out a great title for sure.  In her absence, they’ve asked if I could mobilize the collective genius of you, the Freakonomics blog readers.

Okay, so here is the deal.  Below, I’ve provided some information on the book and links to some materials that might prove useful to you in coming up with a name.  You have two days to generate great titles for the book, which you can submit as comments on this blog post.

Putting Microeconomics to Work

I’ve long been puzzled by the almost complete disconnect between real-world businesses and academic economics.  After I graduated from college, I went to work as a management consultant.  Almost nothing I learned as an economics major proved helpful to me in that job.  Then, when I went back to get a Ph.D., I thought what I had learned in consulting would help me in economics.  I was wrong about that as well!

Ever since, I’ve felt that both business and economics would benefit from a greater connection.  Why don’t businesses set prices the way economics textbooks say they should?  Why are randomized experiments so rare in business?  Why do economists write down models of how businesses behave without spending time watching how decisions are actually made at businesses? The list goes on and on.

How to Maximize Your Halloween Candy Haul: A New Marketplace Podcast

A few weeks ago, we got an e-mail from a reader Vishal Dosanjh, who lives in St. Louis:

My daughter asked me this morning why the fancy neighborhoods are the best places to go trick-or-treating. It puzzled me for a moment and then realized it was an economic question. I gave her an answer about disposable income and societal expectations. Anyway I thought it might be up your alley, and I wonder if it's even true. Do wealthy neighborhoods/people actually give out better candy? She's 8 by the way.

We set out to answer Vishal's question in our latest Freakonomics Radio on Marketplace podcast.

Should the Government Be Targeting a Different Kind of Discrimination?

A new working paper from Uri Gneezy, John List, and Michael K. Price looks at discrimination via a variety of field experiments and more than 3,000 individual transactions:

In certain markets, the observed discrimination is not bigotry or animus-based, but consistent with the notion of profit-maximization, or Pigou’s (1920) “third-degree price discrimination”: in their pursuit of the most profitable transactions, marketers use observable characteristics to make statistical inference about reservation values of market agents. In others, the discrimination is more in line with Becker’s (1957) taste based theory of discrimination, or animus.

Interestingly, the nature of discrimination is less driven by particulars of the market or institutions, rather the nature of the disparate behavior is driven by whether the object of discrimination is a choice of the individual or is uncontrollable.

The Social Pressure of Charitable Giving

We recently heard from John List, the economics-of-charity guru, about the use of lotteries in fund-raising.

Here now is a new List paper, co-authored with Stefano DellaVigna and Ulrike Malmendier, published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics, called "Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving."

John List Explains Why Lotteries Are in Fact a Good Fund-Raising Mechanism

We recently ran on a post on a reader's query about the economics of a 50-50 fund-raiser. John List, the University of Chicago economics-of-charity wizard (related podcast here), wrote in with a comment:

The intuition of the reader is slightly off.  Although not directly a 50-50 charity drive, we have explored the efficacy of lotteries both theoretically and empirically.  As John Morgan (from Berkeley) has elegantly shown, under standard assumptions (no risk-loving or lottery-loving behavior is necessary), lotteries outperform the simple ask (what we call a VCM).  Lotteries obtain higher levels of public-goods provision than a voluntary contributions mechanism (VCM) because the lottery rules introduce additional private benefits from contributing.

To Ask or Not to Ask: Experiments in Charitable Giving

Our recent podcast "What Makes a Donor Donate?" features economist John List, who has concentrated his research on the science of philanthropy. In short, when it comes to convincing people to give, some ways are better than others. But what about just directly asking them?

A new study from authors James Andreoni, Justin M. Rao, and Hannah Trachtman examines the way people behave when solicited for donations by bell-ringers from the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign. The authors designed an experiment where bell-ringers were sent to a grocery store in suburban Boston, and positioned at either one or both of the store's entrances.

Bloomberg BusinessWeek on Economist John List, And How To Incentivize Potty Training

More well-deserved attention for University of Chicago economist John List, whose research is the star of Chapter 3 of SuperFreakonomics and also featured in the last segment of the Freakonomics movie.

Oliver Staley crafts a long piece that both describes some of List’s recent research endeavors and gives the reader a feel for his personality.

Like all economists, apparently, he has a story about potty training his kids:

List believes so strongly in incentives that he offers his own children lottery tickets to do extra math homework, he says. He promised a daughter a trip to Disney World in exchange for her becoming potty trained. The day he made the offer, she used the toilet and was trained, he says.

This Is What I Call Being Risk-Averse

Two economists walk into a Las Vegas casino. They ask to place a $2,500 bet on the Chicago White Sox to win more than half their games this year. The reply from the casino? That's too risky.