Timothy Hatton, 20 June 2017

While immigration preferences have been studied extensively, less attention has been paid to the public’s assessment of the importance of immigration as a policy issue. Using survey data from 17 European countries, this column shows that the drivers of immigration preference and salience are very different. Both immigration preference and salience should be taken into account when assessing the effect of immigration attitudes on policy. 

Christian Schubert, 22 January 2016

Nudges are modifications of people’s choice architecture that impact their behaviour but don’t change their incentives or coerce them. As a policy instrument, nudges have been shown to be effective in changing certain kinds of behaviours. This column explores the ethical issues that arise in employing such potentially manipulative policies. An evaluation programme is outlined that explores a potential policy’s impact on people’s wellbeing, autonomy, and integrity, along with its practical implications.

Simone Moriconi, Giovanni Peri, 19 October 2015

Unemployment rates vary widely across EU countries. While national institutions and policies explain much of the variation, cultural values, attitudes, and beliefs may also play a role. This column uses survey data from 26 EU countries to investigate the existence of culturally transmitted preferences for work. Country-specific preferences for work are found to have a positive effect on emigrants’ labour market outcomes, with those from countries with an above-average preference for work having higher employment rates abroad. Cultural preferences are significant enough that EU countries may never converge to the same employment rate.

Abigail Adams, 03 February 2015

In setting tax levels, governments around the world must predict how consumers will respond. This is a surprisingly difficult problem to solve – consumer preferences vary significantly across individuals and cannot be directly observed. This column suggests that these challenges for accurate demand prediction are best overcome using nonparametric methods, and outlines a flexible approach for recovering the distribution of consumer preferences that can be used to predict individual demand responses as required for policy analysis.

Graham Loomes, Ganna Pogrebna, 02 August 2014

Researchers use various measures of individual risk attitudes to help explain a wide variety of economic behaviours, including investment decisions and firms’ entry and exit decisions. This column presents recent evidence showing that such measures are very context-specific and need to be used with caution, since the very same people can sometimes appear to be risk taking and sometimes appear to be risk averse, depending on the specific measure used. These discrepancies may arise because people have imprecise preferences under risk, and their responses are liable to be influenced by the particular methods used to elicit them.

Ghazala Azmat, Barbara Petrongolo, 07 June 2014

There are considerable gender differences in pay and employment levels, and in the type of labour-market activities. This column reviews experimental studies that address different aspects of these problems. Three channels are explored: gender discrimination on the labour market, differences in individual and group preferences, and productivity. Despite recent experimental advances, gender differences in labour-market success have only been partially explained.

Dana Goldman , John Romley, 21 March 2008

In choosing their hospital, patients are concerned with both quality of care and amenities such as comfortable rooms. This column summarises recent research showing that patients value amenities and more productive hospitals compete for patients by supplying higher quality. We need to assess the value of amenities in relation to other hospital benefits, since improving amenities is more costly than improving care.

Shoshana Neuman, Einat Neuman, 11 January 2008

Evidence from Israeli hospitals shows that medical care-givers aren’t accommodating patients’ preferences. This summary of the findings suggests how hospitals might better serve their patients.

Shoshana Neuman, Einat Neuman, 18 December 2007

The standard assumption in economic theory is that our preferences do not change as a result of experience. The reality, however, may be somewhat different. The authors of CEPR DP6608 examine whether and how preferences for the service they receive differ for women having their first child compared to those with experience of childbirth.