David Reinstein



+44(0)7510303648  / +44(0)1392432036

Department of Economics University of Exeter 

Streatham Court, Rennes Drive, Exeter, EX4 4PU, UK

Updated 2017

Academic Positions

January 2016 - Present: Senior Lecturer, Department of Economics, University of Exeter

2006-2015: Lecturer (Assistant Professor equivalent), permanency granted 2011,

Department of Economics, University of Essex.   


August 2006  University of California at Berkeley, Ph.D.

May 1998  George Washington University, B.S. Economics

Research Interests

Applied Microeconomics, Public Economics, Other-regarding Behavior and Philanthropy, Psychology and Economics, Experimental Economics (lab and field), Economics of Education, Public Policy

Teaching and Administration

Entrepreneurial and Impact Projects


"The Influence of Expert Reviews on Consumer Demand for Experience Goods: A Case Study of Movie Critics" with Professor C. M. Snyder, Journal of Industrial Economics, Vol. 53, No. 1, pp. 27-51, March 2005

“Does One Contribution Come at the Expense of Another?   Empirical Evidence on Substitution Among Charitable Donations.” The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, Vol. 11:  Iss. 1 (Advances), Article 40, 2011.


“Efficient Consumer Altruism and Fair Trade Products”  (With Joon Song, Sungkyunkwan University).   Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, Volume 21 Number 1, Spring 2012.

“Reputation and Influence in Charitable Giving: An Experiment” (With Gerhard Riener, Mannheim). Theory and Decision, pp. 1-23, 2012.

“Decomposing Desert and Tangibility Effects in a Charitable Giving Experiment” (With Gerhard Riener)., Experimental Economics, 1-12, 2012.

“Anonymous Rituals” (with David Hugh-Jones, UEA) Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 81, 478, 2012.

“The Economics of the Gift” in: Gift giving and the "embedded" economy in the ancient world, edited by Filippo Carlà and Maja Gori, Universitätsverlag Winter Heidelberg, 2014, pp. 83-99. 

Awards and Grants

October 2016  ESRC Active Engagement Award (Impact Acceleration): Innovations in Fundraising

July 2016 Above and Beyond award for service to BID research cluster (Exeter)

June 2016 ESRC Impact Cultivation Award: Innovations in Fundraising

July 2015 British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant: “Experiments on Political Ideology, Empathy, and Charitable Giving” (Co-investigator: Patrick Lown)

February 2014 British Council Researcher Links: “Listen to the market, hear the best policy decision, but don’t always choose it.”

April 2013 Leverhulme Trust Visiting Fellowships Grant Scheme (Co-investigator 1, PI: Nadine Chlass)

February 2013 Data Without Borders Grant (with Mathias Parey). Title: “The Impact of a University: Evidence from Admissions Lotteries, and Implications for Higher Education in Europe”

May 2012 Building partnerships for Knowledge Exchange Grant for work with the UK Cabinet’s Behavioural Insights Team on randomized controlled trials involving Payroll Giving.

December 2011  Conference co-organizer, Academy of Sciences of Heidelberg, Germany, “From Social Altruism to Commercial Exchange: Gift Economy and the Embedded Economy in the Ancient World",  (23 Feb. 2012)

February 2010  British Academy Small Research Grant.  “Reputation and Influence in Charitable Giving”

July 2007  British Academy Small Research Grant. “Experimental Evidence on Charitable Giving”

June 2007  Teaching and Learning Innovation Fund (TALIF) award

2005-2006  X-lab Competitive Grant, X-lab Pilot Grant, University of California, Berkeley

Work In Progress and In Submission

Stochastic income and conditional generosity: Experimental evidence (with Christian Kellner [Bonn], Gerhard Riener [Dusseldorf])

We study how other-regarding behavior extends to environments with income uncertainty and conditional commitments. Should fundraisers ask a banker to donate “if he earns a bonus” or wait and ask after the bonus is known? Standard EU theory predicts these are equivalent; loss-aversion and signaling models predict a larger commitment before the bonus is known; theories of affect predict the reverse. In five experiments incorporating lab and field elements (N=1363), we solicited charitable donations from lottery winnings worth between $10 and $30, varying the conditionality of donations between participants. While the results suggest some heterogeneity across experimental contexts and demographic groups, in each experiment conditional donations (“if you win”) were higher than ex-post donations. Pooling across experiments, this is strongly statistically significant; we find a 56% greater likelihood of donating and a 25% larger average donation commitment in the Before treatment. Our findings add to our understanding of pro-social behavior and have implications for charitable fundraising, for effective altruism giving pledges, and for experimental methodology.

Listen to the market, hear the best policy decision, but don’t always choose it (with Joon Song [SKKU] and Surajeet Chakravarty [Exeter])

Policymakers must often decide whether to pursue a policy that has uncertain benefits. The response of asset markets to proposed policy changes can be a valuable source of information for policy-setting. However, policymakers must take into account that an informed trader may anticipate this and protably manipulate the market. We show that it is optimal for policymakers to listen to asset markets, but they must commit (e.g., through political capital) to sometimes pursuing a policy even when the expected welfare effects are negative. Surprisingly, allowing traders to short-sell can make it easier for policymakers to induce truth-telling actions.

Exclude the bad actors, or learn about the group  (with David Hugh-Jones [UEA])

Previous work finds that the threat of punishment or exclusion can increase contributions to public goods. However, not all behavior can be monitored and punished, and contributions induced under threat are less informative about true preferences. The resulting loss of information can lead conditionally-cooperative players to cooperate less when the threat is absent than they would have had there never been a threat. Our laboratory evidence -- from a two-stage public goods game with exclusion -- supports this account. Contributions under the threat of targeted exclusion were less informative of later choices than contributions made anonymously, and subjects realized this. We find evidence of conditional cooperation driven by beliefs over others' contributions. Our Anonymous treatment led to lower first-stage contributions but significantly higher second-stage contributions than our Revealed treatment. This may help explain why real world institutions often encourage anonymous contributions and loosely monitor teamwork.

Losing Face (With Thomas Gall [Southampton])  

When Al makes an offer to Betty that Betty observes and rejects, Al may “lose face”. This loss of face (LoF) may cost Al utility, either directly or through reputation effects. This can lead to fewer offers and inefficiency in the context of bilateral matching problems, e.g., the marriage market, research partnering, and international negotiations. We offer a simple model with asymmetric information, a continuous signal of an individual's binary type, and a linear marriage production function. We add a primal LoF term which is distinct from standard search frictions. We characterize the stable equilibria, comparing the benchmark without LoF to a case where only one side is vulnerable to LoF, and present comparative statics. A small amount of LoF has no effect on low types' behavior, but, considering stable interior equilibria only, it will make high types on both sides more selective. A stronger LoF term drives high types out of the market, and makes low types reverse snobs, further reducing welfare. LoF also makes rejecting strictly preferred to being rejected, making the “high types reject” equilibrium stable. We can eliminate the effects of LoF by letting the vulnerable side move second, or setting up a “Conditionally Anonymous Environment” that only reveals when both parties say “yes”. We motivate our model with a variety of empirical examples, and we suggest policy and managerial implications.

'Worth 1000 Words: The effect of social cues on a fundraising campaign in a government agency. A field experiment' (with Michael Sanders and and Alex Tupper)

Other ongoing research projects

Popular essays and outreach

Invited Seminar and Conference Presentations

EA Global London, Loughborough University London, Science of Philanthropy Initiative, Advances in Field Experiments, London Experimental Workshop, First Conference on Psychological Game Theory, GW4 Game Theory Workshop, University of Exeter, M-Bees, Journées d'Economie Publique Louis-André Gérard-Varet, University of Southern California, Sheffield, TWI/Konstanz, EC-JRC Vaccination Workshop (Ispra), SKKU Seoul, FUR conference, APET conference, SUNY Albany, UC Santa Barbara, Cal State SLO, University of Queensland, University of New South Wales, Royal Economics Society 2013, ESRC “Generosity and Well-Being” Workshop 2013, British Academy “Nudge and Beyond” Conference, University of Oxford, Workshop on the Determinants and Implications of Prosocial Behavior (Southampton); University of St. Andrews, ALISS-INRA (Paris), IAREP workshop (Kent), University of Amsterdam, University of Nottingham, Erasmus University, European Meeting of the Econometric Society, ESI Workshop (Max Planck), Warwick University, University of Bristol (CMPO), University of Guanajuato, University of San Francisco, UC Berkeley, EARIE 2008 – Toulouse, University of East Anglia, Bocconi University, University of Essex,  IMT Lucca, Italy, Catholic University of Portugal,  Cornerstone Research, ARNOVA (nonprofit research) conference 2006, Economic Science Association (ESA) world meeting 2007, 2008, 2012, 2016.

Other Professional Experience

2005  LECG Consulting, Emeryville, CA, USA. Senior Consulting Intern.

1998-1999  The CNA (Center for Naval Analyses) Corporation, Resource Analysis Division, Alexandria, VA, USA.  Research Specialist.

1998  Congressional Budget Office, Special Studies Division, Washington, DC.

Referee and Editorial Activities        

Rand Journal of Economics, Journal of the Economic Science Association, European Economic Review (2X), Journal of International Economics, Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (2X), Journal of Economic Behavior and Organizations (2X), Economic Journal (4X), Review of Economics Studies (2X), Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, International Game Theory Review, BE Press, Journal of Economics and Management Strategy (2X), Review of Economics and Statistics (2x), Theory and Decision, Journal of Public Economics (5X), Journal of Industrial Organization, Journal of Economic Psychology (2x), International Journal of Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Marketing, UK ESRC grant, NSF grant, Thomson-Reuters.

Editorial Board: Scientific Data (Nature)

Personal Information

Citizenship: USA, UK

Languages: English (native), Spanish, Portuguese