Published papers

“Picture This: Social Distance and the Mistreatment of Migrant Workers” (with Toman Barsbai, Victoria Licuanan, Andreas Steinmayr, Erwin Tiongson, and Dean Yang)
Journal of Political Economy: Microeconomics, accepted.
NBER Working Paper 30804 [AEA RCT Registry 1 | AEA RCT Registry 2]
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International migrant workers are vulnerable to abuses by their employers. We implemented a randomized controlled trial of an intervention to reduce mistreatment of Filipino women working as domestic workers (DWs) by their household employers in Hong Kong and Saudi Arabia. The intervention — encouraging DWs to show their employers a photo of their family while providing a small gift when starting employment — caused DWs to experience less mistreatment, have higher satisfaction with the employer, and be more likely to stay with the employer. DWs’ families in the Philippines also come to view international labor migration more positively, while they generally remain unaware of the intervention. An online experiment with potential employers in Hong Kong and the Middle East suggests that a mechanism behind the treatment effect is a reduction in the employer’s perceived social distance from the employee.

“Communicating doctors’ consensus persistently increases COVID-19 vaccinations” (with Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, and Julie Chytilová)
Nature, 2022
Full paper | Supplementary Information
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The reluctance of people to get vaccinated represents a fundamental challenge to containing the spread of deadly infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Identifying misperceptions that can fuel vaccine hesitancy and creating effective communication strategies to overcome them are a global public health priority. Medical doctors are a trusted source of advice about vaccinations, but media reports may create an inaccurate impression that vaccine controversy is prevalent among doctors, even when a broad consensus exists. Here we show that public misperceptions about the views of doctors on the COVID-19 vaccines are widespread, and correcting them increases vaccine uptake. We implement a survey among 9,650 doctors in the Czech Republic and find that 90% of doctors trust the vaccines. Next, we show that 90% of respondents in a nationally representative sample (n = 2,101) underestimate doctors’ trust; the most common belief is that only 50% of doctors trust the vaccines. Finally, we integrate randomized provision of information about the true views held by doctors into a longitudinal data collection that regularly monitors vaccination status over 9 months. The treatment recalibrates beliefs and leads to a persistent increase in vaccine uptake. The approach demonstrated in this paper shows how the engagement of professional medical associations, with their unparalleled capacity to elicit individual views of doctors on a large scale, can help to create a cheap, scalable intervention that has lasting positive impacts on health behaviour.

“Covid-19 Crisis and Hostility against Foreigners” (with Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, and Julie Chytilová)
European Economic Review, 2021, 137: 103818
Full paper | SSRN Discussion paper
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Harmful behavior against out-group members often rises during periods of economic hardship and health pandemics. Here, we test the widespread concern that the Covid-19 crisis may fuel hostility against people from other nations. Using a controlled money-burning task, we elicited hostile behavior among a nationally representative sample (n = 2,186) in the Czech Republic during the first wave of the pandemic. We provide evidence that exogenously elevating the salience of the Covid-19 crisis increases hostility against foreigners from the EU, USA and Asia. This behavioral response is similar across various demographic sub-groups. Further, we observe zero to small negative effects for both domestic out-groups and in-groups, suggesting that the salience of Covid-19 might negatively affect behavior not only towards foreigners but to other people more generally, though these findings are not conclusive. The results underscore the importance of not inflaming anti-foreigner sentiments and suggest the need to monitor impacts of the crisis on behavior in the social domain.

“Seasonal scarcity and sharing norms”
Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2021, 185, 303-316
1st prize in the “Young Economist of the Year 2014” award sponsored by the Czech Economic Society
Full paper
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How does scarcity affect individual willingness to altruistically enforce norms of sharing with others and individual willingness to share? Sharing within informal communities offers an important insurance mechanism during adverse shocks. But scarcity may test the stability of the enforcement mechanisms of informal norms. I conducted repeated incentivized economic experiments in a lean and in a relatively plentiful post-harvest season with the same group of Afghan subsistence farmers who experience seasonal scarcities annually annual seasonal scarcities. Enforcement of sharing weakens substantially in times of scarcity, while sharing itself remains temporally stable. Leniency in enforcement may protect individuals who cannot afford to share from social sanctions, yet it may also threaten sharing and result in deterioration of prosociality. The findings can help reconcile mixed evidence in existing literature which has documented both resilience and breakdowns in response to scarcity.

“Psychological Effects of Poverty on Time Preferences” (with Michal Bauer, Julie Chytilová, and Ian Levely)
The Economic Journal, 2021, 131(638): 2357-2382
Full paper | CEPR Discussion paper
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We test whether an environment of poverty affects time preferences through purely psychological channels. We measured discount rates among farmers in Uganda who made decisions about when to enjoy entertainment instead of working. To circumvent the role of economic constraints, we experimentally induced thoughts about poverty-related problems, using priming techniques. We find that thinking about poverty increases the preference to consume entertainment early and to delay work. Using monitoring tools similar to eye tracking, a novel feature for this subject pool, we show that this effect is unlikely to be driven by less careful decision-making processes.

“Sanctioning and trustworthiness across ethnic groups: Experimental evidence from Afghanistan” (with Ian Levely)
Journal of Public Economics, 2021, 194, 104347
Full paper | CESifo Working paper | Supplementary online materials
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Since social preferences towards individuals perceived as belonging to a different group are typically weaker, cooperation is more difficult in ethnically diverse settings. Using an economic experiment in Afghanistan, we show how the ability to impose financial penalties can help to overcome this. We use a trust game with two special features: investors communicate a desired back-transfer and, in some treatments, can choose whether to conditionally impose a small fine on trustees who do not comply with this request. We randomly paired subjects with either a co-ethnic or someone from a different ethnic group. We find that when investors do not have the ability to impose a fine, subjects are more trustworthy towards co-ethnics. When the fine is imposed by a co-ethnic, it has little effect. However, in cross-ethnic interactions, the fine increases trustworthiness, virtually eliminating in-group bias. Interestingly, this result is qualitatively similar when the fine is available to the investor but not used. These results suggest that institutions for enforcing cooperation are more effective when applied between, rather than within, ethnic groups, due to behavioral differences in how individuals respond to pecuniary sanctions.

“Who actually decides? Parental influence on the housing tenure choice of their children” (with Martin LuxTomáš SamecPetr SunegaJán PálgutaIrena Boumová, and Ladislav Kážmér)
Urban Studies, 2018, 55(2), 406-426
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We focus on the role of within-family socialisation and the relationship between socialisation and resource transfers in the intergenerational transmission of housing preferences, the formation of familial housing attitudes and thus the reproduction of a normative housing tenure ladder across generations in Czech society. We show that resource transfers and the within-family socialisation of housing preferences, including preferences concerning housing tenure, are closely interconnected. In other words, parental influence on decision to buy own housing (and on housing preferences in general) of their adult children through socialisation is stronger if there is an (actual or assumed) intergenerational resource transfer. This has several implications for how housing markets and systems work. The paper draws on findings from qualitative, quantitative and experimental studies.

“Parental leave length, social norms, and female labor market re-entry frictions” (with Barbara Pertold-Gebická)
International Journal of Manpower, 2018, 39(4), 600-620; Special Issue: Hiring discrimination: measures, moderators, and mechanisms
Supplementary online materials
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The purpose of this paper is to identify the role of employers in creating employment gaps among women returning to the labor market after parental leaves of different durations.
The authors use a controlled correspondence field experiment that orthogonally manipulates parental leave length and the quality of fictitious female job candidates. The experiment is complemented with a survey among human resource managers.
High-quality candidates receive more interview invitations when applying after a short parental leave, while low-quality (LQ) candidates receive more interview invitations when applying after a typical three years long parental leave. Survey results suggest that the difference in invitations between short and typical leave treatments is driven by a social norm that mothers should stay home with children younger than three. Productivity gains from employing a LQ job applicant with a shorter career break might not be high enough to outweigh the adverse social norm effect.
Social implications
The presented results point toward the strong effect of prevailing social norms on job search prospects of women returning to the labor market after parental leave.
A correspondence experiment has not been used before to study the relationship between time spent on leave and the labor market prospects of mothers. It also extends research on social norms to the domain of hiring decisions.

“Attention discrimination: Theory and field experiments with monitoring information acquisition” (with Michal Bauer, Julie Chytilová, and Filip Matějka)
American Economic Review, 2016, 106(6), 1437-75
“Exeter Prize for Research in Experimental Economics, Decision Theory and Behavioral Economics” sponsored by Exeter Business School
Best paper award on “Economics of Discrimination” sponsored by UniCredit & Universities Foundation
Full paper | Supplementary online materials
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We integrate tools to monitor information acquisition in field experiments on discrimination and examine whether gaps arise already when decision-makers choose the effort level for reading an application. In both countries we study, negatively stereotyped minority names reduce employers’ effort to inspect applicants’ resumes. In contrast, minority names increase information acquisition in the rental housing market. Both results are consistent with a model of endogenous allocation of costly attention, which magnifies the role of prior beliefs and preferences beyond the one considered in standard models of discrimination. The findings have implications for magnitude of discrimination, returns to human capital and policy.

Book chapters

“Measuring Social Preferences in Developing Economies” (with Ian Levely)
Handbook of Experimental Development Economics, Edward Elgar (eds. Utteeyo Dasgupta and Pushkar Maitra), forthcoming.
CESifo Working Paper No. 10744
View abstract

For the past two decades, studies measuring social preferences in developing settings have played an important role in building our understanding of economic development and poverty. This book chapter reviews lab-in-the-field experiments that measure social preferences, summarizes categories of social preferences, the standard experimental games that have been developed to test them, and why they are of interest to development economists. We describe experimental methodology adapted for developing contexts, give an overview of some recent advances in measuring social preferences in developing settings, we comment on the external validity of standard experimental games, and discuss unincentivized measures of social preferences. Finally, we review studies that explain variations in social preferences between and within individuals, with a focus on environmental factors. We comment on possible paths forward.

Working papers

“Gendered Access to Finance: The Role of Team Formation, Idea Quality, and Implementation Constraints in Business Evaluations” (with Silvia Castro, Kristina Czura, and Timm Opitz)
CESifo Working Paper No. 10719 [AEA RCT Registry]
View abstract

We analyze gender discrimination in entrepreneurship finance. Access to finance is crucial for entrepreneurial success, yet constraints for women are particularly pronounced. We structurally unpack whether loan officers evaluate business ideas and implementation constraints differently for male and female entrepreneurs, both as individual entrepreneurs or in entrepreneurial teams. In a lab-in-the-field experiment with Ugandan loan officers, we document gender discrimination of individual female entrepreneurs, but no gender bias in the evaluation of entrepreneurial teams. Our results suggest that the observed bias is not driven by animus against female entrepreneurs but rather by differential beliefs about women’s entrepreneurial ability or implementation constraints in running a business. Policies aimed at team creation for start-up enterprises may have an additional benefit of equalizing access to finance and ultimately stimulating growth.

Work in progress

“Youngism” (with Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, and Julie Chytilová)

“Racial Discrimination in Seeking Advice” (with Ulrich Glogowsky and Johannes Rincke) [AEA RCT Registry]

“Identifying and teaching high-growth entrepreneurship: Experimental evidence from entrepreneurship academies for university students in Uganda” (with Kristina Czura, Michael Kaiser, Timm Opitz, and Brendan Shanks) [AEA RCT Registry]

“A Design-Based Approach Towards Understanding Gender Differences in Tournament Entry” (with Roel van Veldhuizen) [AEA RCT Registry]

“Sanctions, Trustworthiness and Business Formalization in Malawi” (with Francisco Moraes Leitao Campos, Markus Goldstein, and Ian Levely)

“Caste differences in risk sharing attitudes” (with Tushi Baul)

Other writing

The impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health (A study for the Institute for Democracy and Economic Analysis IDEA; in Czech, with Jana Cahlíková, Michal Bauer, and Julie Chytilová; in Czech; 2020)
Full paper

How to Communicate with the Public? Lessons from Behavioral Economics for the Fight Against Covid-19 (A study for the Institute for Democracy and Economic Analysis IDEA; in Czech; 2020)
Full paper

Labor market (non-) discrimination of women in expected motherhood: Experimental evidence (A study for the Institute for Democracy and Economic Analysis IDEA; in Czech; 2015)
Full paper

Three practical guidebooks prepared for a Czech NGO “People in Need” (with Ian Levely; 2014)
1) Livelihood development: A practical guide to administering PIN livelihood development programs 
2) Impact evaluation: A practical guide to designing and administering impact evaluations of PIN programs
3) Data collection: A practical guide to collecting data in developing countries
First part | Second part | Third part

Other research

Life during a pandemic. Ongoing panel data collection tracking the behavior of a representative sample of over 3000 Czechs during the Covid-19 pandemic. Starting March 30, bi- or tri-weekly data collection.
Cite data as: Daniel Prokop, Vojtěch Bartoš, Michal Bauer, Jana Cahlíková, Julie Chytilová, Michaela Kudrnáčová, Lucie Marková, Eliška Dvořáková, Tomáš Hovorka (2021): Life during the pandemic: Longitudinal data set from the Czech Republic. URL: