This page lists original peer-reviewed journal arcticles (including abstracts and publisher links), other original research reports, and presentations at international peer-reviewed conferences, workshops, and seminar invitations. For management & public policy transfer and public outreach texts go here. For work in progress go here.

Original research journal articles

Energy efficiency promotion backfires under cap-and-trade

Major climate-cum-energy policies and respective impact projections rest on the widespread belief that increased energy efficiency can be equated with savings in energy use and emissions. This belief is flawed. Due to the rebound effect emissions savings from energy efficiency improvements will be generally less than what is technically feasible, or even be reversed. By means of an analytical general equilibrium model we demonstrate the latter to be true in a case that is both stark and relevant: if electricity generation is subject to a cap-and-trade scheme with partial coverage, increased efficiency of electric devices leads unambiguously to increased carbon emissions. The result implies that a proper distinction between the energy rebound and the carbon rebound is warranted, and that public policy must carefully consider the interactions between energy efficiency promotion and carbon pricing.

Trust, but verify? Monitoring, inspection costs, and opportunism under limited observability

Is feedback on trustworthiness necessary for the functioning of economic relationships? In many real-world economic environments, such feedback can at best be acquired through costly monitoring, raising questions of how trust and efficiency can be maintained. In the lab, we conduct a modified finite-horizon binary trust game in which we vary the observability of the trustee's actions. In the baseline condition, trustors can perfectly observe their trustee's actions. We compare this to a condition in which that actions are unobservable and three conditions in which they must be actively monitored, at zero, low or high cost, respectively. Counter-intuitively, differences in observability do not lead to significant differences in trust and efficiency, but the levels are supported by very different information structures: while trustors monitored every action under zero observation costs, most of trusting actions were "blind" – trustors did not learn whether their trust was honored or not – under costly monitoring. Even under complete unobservability almost half of the available surplus was realized. There are distributive impacts, however: the gains from trust favor trustees under the more adverse informational conditions. The behavioral patterns are consistent with the fact that trustors' beliefs about their trustee's conduct are almost invariant across conditions.

Do renewable energy policies reduce carbon emissions? On caps and inter-industry leakage

In a parsimonious two-sector general equilibrium model, we challenge the widely-held tenet that within a cap-and-trade system renewable energy policies have no effect on carbon emissions. If the cap does not capture all sectors, we demonstrate that variations of a renewable energy subsidy change aggregate carbon emissions through an inter-industry leakage effect. We decompose this effect into intuitively intelligible components that depend in natural ways on measurable elasticity parameters. Raising the subsidy always reduces emissions if funded by a lump-sum tax, reinforcing recent findings that tightening environmental regulation can cause negative leakage. However, if the subsidy is funded by a levy on electricity, it can increase emissions. These results provide a valuable basis for an informed design of renewable energy policies and an accurate assessment of their effectiveness. We highlight how a state-of-the-art statistic used by governments to gauge such effectiveness, "virtual emission reductions", is biased, because inter-industrial leakage effects are not captured.

Second and third party punishment under costly monitoring

In a laboratory experiment we study how costly punishment behavior of second and third parties in a social dilemma situation is affected by monitoring costs. Subjects have to pay a fee over and above punishment costs if they wish to condition punishments on previous play, which is equivalent to a binary choice between the acquisition of perfect information on the target subject's behavior and no information at all. When monitoring is costly both second and third party punishment is weaker and less discriminate and hence generates weaker incentives for cooperation than when monitoring is free. There are subtle differences between second and third parties: The presence of monitoring costs leads subjects to withhold sanctioning more often as second parties than as third parties, and to punish indiscriminately more often as third parties than as second parties. The results contribute to the understanding of peer-enforcement of cooperation in social dilemmas and whether there is a common motivational structure underpinning second and third party punishment.

The warnings puzzle: an upstream explanation

Enforcement agencies issuing warnings are an empirical regularity in the enforcement of laws and regulations, but a challenge to the standard economic theory of public enforcement. A number of recent contributions explain the popularity of warnings as a response to information asymmetries between regulator and regulatee. We offer a distinct, but complementary explanation: Warnings can serve as a signaling device in the interaction between the enforcement agency and its budget-setting authority. By using costly warnings for minor offenses that would otherwise not be pursued, the agency can generate observable activity to escape budget cuts in subsequent periods. We show in a stylized model that warnings may indeed occur in an equilibrium of a game in which warnings are entirely unproductive in the agency-regulatee interaction, and thereby derive a testable hypothesis on regulatory agency behavior.

Other research reports

On the Economics of Transparency and Cooperation

This thesis is about the relationship between transparency and cooperation. Fixing a particular group of individuals, the basic question can be posed as follows: What does the propensity of those individuals to cooperate with one another has to do with the availability of information they have about each others’ actions? I draw on a body of research on cooperation in game theory and experimental economics, that I review in the first two chapters around the specific focus posed. I contribute to the literature with five novel empirical studies, reported upon in the remaining chapters. The common point of depature is an endogenous conception of information structures. It is shown that this conception has significant empirical implications.

Academic conference presentations

25th Annual Conference of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE), Berlin, Germany, June 23-July 3rd, 2020 (online). In contributed session "The Political Economy of Climate Policy". 

24th Annual Conference of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE), Manchester, United Kingdom, June 26-29, 2019. In contributed sessions "Electricity Market and Renewables: Theoretical Modelling" and "Environment and Behavioural Economics II". 

MZES Open Social Science Conference 2019, Mannheim, Germany, January 25-27, 2019. In special session "MZES-GESIS Pre-Registration Challenge Final". 

19th ISA World Congress of Sociology, Toronto, Canada, July 15-21, 2018. In contributed sessions "Rationality and Collective Action" (RC45 Rational Choice) and "Family Issues in Social Psychology" (RC42 Social Psychology).

6th World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists (WCERE), Gothenburg, Sweden, June 25-29, 2018. In contributed session.

23rd Annual Conference of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE), Athens, Greece, June 28-July 1, 2017. In contributed session "Environmental Policy: Market-based Instruments 2". 

2017 Economic Science Association (ESA) World Meeting, San Diego, California, USA, June 20-June 23, 2017. In contributed session "Choice Process" (Topic Psychology and Biology: Cognition, Social Behavior, Other-Regarding Preferences). 

4th International Meeting on Experimental and Behavioral Social Sciences (IMEBESS), Barcelona, Spain, April 27-29, 2017. In contributed session "Cooperation". 

22nd Spring Meeting of Young Economists (SMYE), Halle, Germany, March 23-25, 2017. In contributed session "Macro 4". 

22nd Annual Conference of the European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists (EAERE), Zurich, Switzerland, June 22-25, 2016. In contributed session. 

11th Tinbergen Institute Conference "Combating Climate Change", Amsterdam, The Netherlands, April 21-22, 2016. In contributed session. 

3rd International Meeting on Experimental and Behavioral Social Sciences (IMEBESS), Rome, Italy, April 14-16, 2016. In contributed session "Cognition". 

VfS-Jahrestagung (Annual Conference of the German Economic Association) 2015, Münster, Germany, September 6-9, 2015. In contributed session "Environmental Economics II". 

30th Annual Congress of the European Economic Association (EEA), Mannheim, Germany, August 24-27, 2015. In contributed session. 

6th Conference of the European Survey Research Association (ESRA), Reykjavik, Iceland, July 13-17, 2015. In poster session. 

4th Mannheim Energy Conference, Mannheim, Germany, May 7-8, 2015. In contributed session.

3rd International Meeting on Experimental and Behavioral Social Sciences (IMEBESS), Toulouse, France, April 15-17, 2015. In contributed session "Trust and Reciprocity". 

2014 Monte Verità Conference on Sustainable Resource Use and Economic Dynamics (SURED), Zurich/Ascona, Switzerland, June 9-12, 2014. In contributed session "Managing Emissions". 

3rd Mannheim Energy Conference, Mannheim, Germany, May 5-6, 2014. In contributed session.

2012 Economic Science Association (ESA) European Conference, Cologne, Germany, September 12-15, 2012. In contributed session "Trust". 

22nd Annual Meeting of the American Law and Economics Association (ALEA), Stanford, California, USA, May 18-19, 2012. In contributed session. 

2011 European Meeting of the Econometric Society (ESEM), Oslo, Norway, August 25-29, 2011. In contributed session. 

2011 International Economic Science Association (ESA) Conference, Chicago, Illinois, USA, July 7-10, 2011. In contributed session.

15th Annual Meeting of the International Society for New Institutional Economics (ISNIE), Stanford, California, USA, June 16-18, 2011. In contributed session "Norms, Customs, Culture I". 

2011 Thurgau Experimental Economics Meeting (THEEM) "Social Norms", Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, May 2-4, 2011. In contributed session. 

27th Annual Conference of the European Law and Economics Association (EALE), Paris, France, September 23-25, 2010. In contributed session "Political Economy of Liberalization". 

4th World Congress of Environmental and Resource Economists (WCERE), Montréal, Canada, June 28-July 2, 2010. In contributed session.

15th Spring Meeting of Young Economists (SMYE), Luxembourg, Luxembourg, April 15-17, 2010. In contributed session. 

Workhop and invited seminar presentations

Annual Workshop of Experimental Economics for the Environment, Ruprecht-Karls University in Heidelberg (Germany), 2020

Environmental Policy Department, University College Dublin (Ireland), 2018

Department of Environmental and Behavioral Sciences, University of Kassel (Germany), 2018

Department of Economics, University of Birmingham (UK), 2018

VfS-Workshop of Young Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Osnabrück (Germany), 2018 

Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge (UK), 2017

Centre D'Économie Industrielle (CERNA), MINES ParisTech University (France), 2017

Annual Workshop of Experimental Economics for the Environment, Jacobs University and Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Research in Bremen (Germany), 2017

Workshop on Global Environmental Challenges – From International Negotiations to Local Implications, Leibniz Centre for European Economic Research (ZEW) in Mannheim (Germany), 2016

VfS-Workshop of Young Environmental and Resource Economists, University of Hamburg (Germany), 2015

WINS Seminar series (Seminar of the Berlin Workshop in Institutional Analysis of Social-Ecological Systems), Humboldt University in Berlin, 2014

10th FONA Forum, Leipzig University of Applied Sciences (Germany), 2013

VfS-Workshop of Young Environmental and Resource Economists, Ruprecht-Karls University in Hamburg (Germany), 2011

VfS-Workshop of Young Environmental and Resource Economists, Karl-Franzens University in Graz (Austria), 2010