My primary field of research is behavioral economics, where I focus on issues that relate to labor-, education-, public- and development economics, such as gender discrimination, human capital investment and inequality acceptance for children. My work is primarily empirical, implementing experiments in controlled laboratory or field settings with nationally representative samples.
- Fair and Unfair Income Inequality, with Alexander W. Cappelen and Bertil Tungodden. In: Zimmermann K. (ed.), Handbook of Labor, Human Resources and Population Economics. Springer, Cham.1-25, 2020.
- Solidarity and Fairness in Times of Crisis, with Alexander W. Cappelen, Erik Ø. Sørensen and Bertil Tungodden, Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 186, Pages 1-11, 2021.
Media coverage: Opinion, New York Times.
- Gender, context and competition: Experimental evidence from rural and urban Uganda with Kjetil Bjorvatn and Ulrikke Hernæs, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics, 61, 31-37, 2016.
- Kvinner, kontekst og konkurranse with Kjetil Bjorvatn and Ulrikke Hernæs, Magma, 5, 52-59, 2012.
Work in Progress
How Do People Trade Off Resources Between Quick and Slow Learners?, single-authored.
Abstract: Human capital investment is of great importance for society, but raises important distributional concerns. In this paper, I provide the first set of evidence on people's preferences for the distribution of educational resources in society. I conduct the first experiment designed to elicit these preferences, specifically examining how a general population sample of over 2,000 Americans trade off resources between quick and slow learners. I find that they give priority to slow learners, assigning, on average, two thirds of the educational resources to this group. Using treatment manipulations, I find that both cost efficiency and the relative motivations of the learners causally affect the resource allocations, but the priority given to slow learners remains. The findings provide important insights for the present policy debate on how to distribute educational resources in society.
The Boy Crisis: Experimental Evidence on the Acceptance of Males Falling Behind, with Alexander W. Cappelen and Bertil Tungodden.
Abstract: The 'boy crisis' prompts the question of whether people interpret inequalities differently depending on whether males or females are lagging behind. We study this question in a novel large-scale distributive experiment involving more than 5,000 Americans. Our data provide strong evidence of a gender bias against low-performing males, particularly among female participants. A large set of additional treatments establishes that the gender bias among female participants reflects statistical fairness discrimination. The study provides novel evidence on the nature of discrimination and on how males falling behind are perceived by society.
How Do Adults Handle Distributive Conflicts Among Children? Experimental Evidence from China and Norway, with Alexander W. Cappelen, Zhonjing Huang and Bertil Tungodden.
Abstract: How does the way in which adults handle distributive conflicts between children differ across societies? Using a novel experimental design with nearly 10,000 adults and children, we compare how adults in two societies characterized by very different levels of income inequality, China (Shanghai) and Norway, make real distributive choices in situations involving two children of the same age. We document a large difference in adults' acceptance of inequality among children in the two societies: the adults in China implement more than twice as much income inequality among children compared to the adults in Norway. This finding is robust to varying the age of the children and key dimensions of the distributive situation. Even for children as young as five years old, the adults in China are willing to accept large income inequality, while the adults in Norway largely choose to equalize incomes. We provide survey evidence indicating that the underlying mechanism is that the adults in China, to a much greater degree than the adults in Norway, consider such inequality to be fair. Our findings suggest that social learning may be a powerful mechanism behind international differences in inequality acceptance.
Experienced Welfare under the COVID-19 Pandemic, with Alexander W. Cappelen, Erik Ø. Sørensen and Bertil Tungodden.
Media coverage: Video, NHH.
- The Development of Social Preferences: Experimental Evidence from China and Norway, with Alexander W. Cappelen, Zhonjing Huang and Bertil Tungodden.
- Peer Perceptions and Students’ Investments in Schoolwork, with Fanny Landaud.