Economics of Social Policy

The research group has two main research areas:

1. Design and impact analysis of social policy programs (mainly in the Global South)

The following questions are the focus of attention:

  • With which socio-political interventions can vulnerable groups be reached, their poverty effectively reduced and their future prospects improved?
  • What role does the social network (social capital) of the needy play in this context?
  • What role do local governments, corruption and lack of state capacity (education and infrastructure) play in the effectiveness of social policy programs?
  • How can local governance be improved in this context?

2. Game theoretical modeling and experimental investigation of strategic decisions (especially group decisions)

The following questions are the focus of attention here:

  • How do people behave in strategic decision-making situations, e.g. when it comes to making an optimal group decision?
  • What role do communication protocols and voting rules play for the aggregation of information and preferences in group-decision processes and in repeated interactions?
  • When is it advisable to delegate decisions to groups?
  • How well can behavior in such situations be predicted by game theory?
  • Which other behavioral factors (bounded rationality, social preferences), which are often left out in the game theory models for the sake of simplicity, play a role?

Research topics

The current research projects of the working group include:

  • Impact analysis of a mentoring program in Colombia.
  • Impact analysis of a program to train local politicians and to improve locally available data on vulnerable groups in Bangladesh.
  • Experiment to investigate the role of communication in the repeated Prisoner’s Dilemma with incomplete monitoring.
  • Online experiment on the influence of manipulated information on individual and collective decisions.