Dr. David B. Huffman

Professor of Economics

New Dataset Available: The Global Preference Survey

The GPS is a new data set produced in some recent research by myself and collaborators, see the paper "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences." Now that the paper is published the data are publicly available. The GPS provides measures of fundamental economic preferences -- time discounting, risk preference, altruism, positive reciprocity, negative reciprocity, and trust  -- from around the world. The data include representative samples from 76 countries, with roughly 80,000 total respondents. The documentation, provided online, includes surveys in the relevant local languages.


My research lies at the intersections of behavioral economics, labor economics, and personnel economics. One strand of my research has been basic research on the determinants of human decision making, especially preferences regarding risk, time, and social interactions, as well as trust and motivated beliefs. My research has shown how such preferences vary around the world as well as within diverse sets of cultures, and has explored determinants of preference differences, including the role of parental transmission. Another strand has been more applied, bringing insights from behavioral economics to central questions in labor, personnel economics, and industrial organization. Topics include how workers respond to incentives, how relational contracting operates in different institutional environments, determinants of involuntary unemployment, and mechanisms underlying gender differences in labor market outcomes. Much of my recent research has been focused on studying behavioral economics within firms, combining the internal data of firms with measures of traits and biases of employees and managers. I am particularly interested in how behavioral biases and bounded rationality may influence the strategic behaviors of firms. I use a wide variety of methodologies, including field experiments, laboratory experiments, surveys, and analysis of large, observational datasets with econometric techniques including machine learning and natural language processing.


Curriculum Vitae

Google Scholar Statistics

(Updated  June, 2024)

Citations: 19,146; Citations since 2019: 10,119; h-index: 33; i-10 index: 43

​​Recent Working Papers​

Current Work in Progress

  • "Delegation and Performance: Evidence from Gas Station Managers (with Yi Han and Yiming Liu).
  • “Investigating Gender Effects Under Competitive Workplace Incentives” (with Collin Raymond and Julia Shvets).
  • “Self-reliance norms as a constraint on prosocial behavior” (with David Danz and Tymofiy Mylovanov).
  • “Gendered wording in job advertisements” (with Ilya Goldin, Dor Morag and Alistair Wilson).
  • “Mental Accounting and Healthy Food Purchases: A Field Experiment” (with Erin Bronchetti and Ellen Magenheim).​​

Publications in Journals

  1. "Relational contracting: Complementarities with behavioral and experimental economics," Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (special issue), 179(3-4), 701-716.
  2. "Persistent Overconfidence and Biased Memory: Evidence from Managers," 2022, The American Economic Review (lead article), 112(10), 3141-75  (with Collin Raymond and Julia Shvets). Web Appendix here. Media Coverage: Freakonomics Blog.
  3. "The Preference Survey Module: A Validated Instrument for Measuring Risk, Time, and Social Preferences,"Management Science, 69(4) 1935-2545 (with Anke Becker, Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, and Uwe Sunde).
  4. "Patience and Comparative Development," 2022, Review of Economic Studies, 89(5), 2806-2840 (with Thomas Dohmen, Benjamin Enke, Armin Falk, and Uwe Sunde).
  5. "Global Evidence on Economic Preferences," 2018, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 133(4), 1645-1692 (with Anke Becker, Thomas Dohmen, Benjamin Enke, Armin Falk, and Uwe Sunde).
  6. "On the Relationship Between Cognitive Ability and Risk Preference," Journal of Economic Perspectives​,  2018, 32(2), 115-134 (with Thomas Dolmen, Armin Falk, and Uwe Sunde). Media Coverage: Interview for AEA research highlights.
  7. Financial Incentive Strategies for Maintenance and Weight Loss: Results from an Internet-Based Randomized Control Trial,” Nutrition and Diabetes, 2018, 8(33), 1-11 (with William Yancy, Pamela Shaw, Lisa Wesby, Victoria Hilbert, Lin Yang, Jingsan Zhu, Andrea Troxel, Gary Foster, Alexis Wojtanowski, and Kevin Volpp).
  8. "Time Discounting and Economic Decision Making in the Older Population," forthcoming in the Journal of the Economics of Ageing (with Olivia Mitchell and Raimond Maurer). Press coverage in Wall Street Journal.
  9. "High-Powered Performance Pay and the Crowding out of Worker Non-Monetary Motivations," 2018, Management Science​, 64(10), 4669-4680 (with Michael Bognanno).
  10. "Risk Attitudes Across the Life Course," Economic Journal ​, 2017, 127(605), F95-F116 (with Thomas Dolmen, Armin Falk, Bart Golsteyn, and Uwe Sunde).
  11. "Attention, Intentions, and Follow-Through in Preventive Health Behavior: Experimental Evidence on Flu Vaccination," Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2015, 116, 270-291 (with Erin Bronchetti and Ellen Magenheim).
  12. “Institutions and Contract Enforcement,” Journal of Labor Economics, 2015, 33(3), 571-590  (with Armin Falk and Bentley MacLeod).
  13. "Contractual Incompleteness, Unemployment, and Labor Market Segmentation", Review of Economic Studies, 2014, 81(1), 30-56 (with Steffen Altmann, Armin Falk, and Andreas Grunewald).
  14. “When a Nudge isn’t Enough: A Field Test of the Power of Defaults to Influence Savings of Low- Income Tax Filers”, National Tax Journal, 2013, 66(3), 609-634 (with Erin Bronchetti, Tom Dee, and Ellen Magenheim).
  15. “Validating an Ultra-Short Survey Measure of Impatience”, Economics Letters, 2013, 120, 142-145 (with Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, Jürgen Schupp, Uwe Sunde, Thomas Vischer, and Gert Wagner).
  16. “Competition Between Organizational Groups: Its Impact on Altruistic and Antisocial Motivations”, Management Science, 2012, 58(5), 948–960 (with Lorenz Goette, Stephan Meier, and Matthias Sutter).
  17. “The Impact of Social Ties on Group Interactions: Evidence from Minimal Groups and Randomly Assigned Real Groups”, American Economic Journal: Microeconomics, 2012, 4(1), 101–115 (with Lorenz Goette and Stephan Meier).
  18. “The Intergenerational Transmission of Risk and Trust Attitudes,” Review of Economic Studies, 2012,79(2), 645–677 (with Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, Uwe Sunde).
  19. “Reference Points and Effort Provision,” The American Economic Review, 2011, 101(2), 470–492 (with Johannes Abeler, Armin Falk, and Lorenz Goette).
  20. “Individual Risk Attitudes: Measurement, Determinants and Behavioral Consequences,” The Journal of the European Economic Association, 2011,9(3) 522–550, appears under different title as IZA Discussion Paper, No. 1730 (with Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, Uwe Sunde, Jürgen Schupp, Gert Wagner).
  21. “Are Risk Aversion and Impatience Related to Cognitive Ability?”, The American Economic Review, 2010, 100(3), 1238 – 1260 (with Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, and Uwe Sunde).
  22. “Direct Evidence on Risk Attitudes and Migration,” The Review of Economics and Statistics, 2010, 92(3), 684 – 689 (with Holger Bonin, Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, David Jaeger, and Uwe Sunde).
  23. “Biased Probability Judgment: Evidence on Incidence and Relation to Economic Outcomes, from a Representative Sample,” Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 2009, 72(3), 903 – 915 (with Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, Uwe Sunde, and Felix Marklein).
  24. “Homo Reciprocans: Survey Evidence on Prevalence, Behavior and Success,” The Economic Journal, 2009, 119(536), 592 – 612 (with Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, and Uwe Sunde).
  25. “Representative Trust and Reciprocity: Prevalence and Determinants,” Economic Inquiry, 2008, 46(1), 84 - 90 (with Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, and Uwe Sunde).
  26. “Cross-Sectional Earnings Risk and Occupational Sorting: The Role of Risk Attitudes,” Labour Economics, 2007, 14(6), 926 - 937 (with Holger Bonin, Thomas Dohmen, Armin Falk, and Uwe Sunde).
  27. “Affect and the Motivational Foundations of Social Capital,” Review of General Psychology, 2007, 11(1), 0-00 (with Lorenz Goette).
  28. “Studying Labor Market Institutions in the Lab,” Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics, 2007, 163(1), 30-45 (with Armin Falk).
  29. “The Impact of Group Membership on Cooperation and Norm Enforcement: Evidence Using Random Assignment to Real Social Groups,” American Economic Review  (Papers and Proceedings), 2006, 96(2), 212-216 (with Lorenz Goette and Stephan Meier).
  30. “Loss Aversion and Labor Supply,” The Journal of the European Economic Association, 2004, 2 (2-3), 216-228 (with Lorenz Goette and Ernst Fehr).

Book Chapters

  1. "Aging and Economic Preferences," forthcoming in Handbook on the Economics of Ageing (with Thomas Dohmen and Uwe Sunde).
  2. "Do Financial Incentives Reduce Intrinsic Motivation for Weight Loss? Evidence from Two Tests of Crowding Out",  in Nudging Health: Health Law and Behavioral Economics, 2016, Johns Hopkins University Press (with David Asch, Jeffry Kullgren, George Loewenstein, Aditi Sen, and Kevin Volpp).
  3. “Do Emotions Improve Labor Market Outcomes?” in Emotion and Decision-Making, eds. Roy Baumeister and George Loewenstein, 2007, Russell Sage: New York (with Lorenz Goette)​.
  4. Affect as a Source of Motivation in the Workplace,” in Emotion and Decision-Making, eds. Roy Baumeister and George Loewenstein, 2007, Russell Sage: New York (with Lorenz Goette).

Older Working Papers