Raisa Sherif

Raisa Sherif

Bio.

I am a Post-doc at the department of Public Economics at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance in Munich. I completed my PhD in 2021 from the University of Munich and the Munich Graduate School of Economics. I received my undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras, India.

The goal of my research is to better understand pro-environmental behaviours and policy interventions targeted at encouraging individuals to engage in them. I study these topics by employing insights from behavioural economics and combining experimental methods like field, lab-in-the-field, and online survey experiments. Please find my research statement here.

Interests
  • Environmental economics
  • Behavioural economics
  • Development
Education
  • PhD in Economics, 2021

    Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Munich Graduate School of Economics

  • Integrated Masters in Economics, 2014

    Indian Institute of Technology, Madras

Email: Raisa.Sherif@tax.mpg.de

Address: Marstallplatz 8, 80539 Munich, Germany

Working Papers

Is there a Trade-off between Efficiency and Visibility in Pro-environmental Behaviours?

(with Sven Simon)

Today’s environmental challenges prompt many individuals to take personal actions to address them. Those intrinsically concerned about the environment should focus on maximizing the impact of their actions. Yet, it is observed that individuals often engage in pro-environment behaviors (PEBs) that are relatively inefficient in terms of their cost-benefit ratio. We examine if this is because individuals trade off efficient PEBs for inefficient, but visible ones. We conduct a representative online experiment in Germany to investigate this trade-off between efficient and visible PEBs, using contributions to carbon-offset initiatives. Our findings reveal three key insights: First, when considered independently, individuals display a preference for efficient PEBs. Second, in scenarios where efficiency and visibility dimensions are in conflict, visible PEBs crowd out efficient alternatives, indicating a willingness among respondents to prioritize being seen as green over environmental impact. Finally, we disentangle two motivations driving this preference for visible actions: social image concerns (a self-oriented motive) and role model aspirations. Notably, the latter motivation exerts a stronger influence, leading individuals more frequently to choose visible PEBs over efficient ones.

Are pro-environment behaviours substitutes or complements? Evidence from the field.

Latest Draft

This paper uses a field experiment among adolescents in India to study how an intervention to increase one pro-environment activity (namely, recycling single-use plastic carry bags), spills over to other pro-environment activities. The paper shows using lab and field experiments combined with survey data that (i) providing information on the need to recycle does not change recycling levels, whereas (ii) providing incentives along with the information, leads to higher recycling. There is a positive spillover from the incentive treatment to other pro-environment activities. This positive spillover is observed among subjects who respond to the incentives and increase recycling. Notably, the positive spillover is also observed among those in this treatment who do not respond to the incentives and do not change recycling behaviour. This suggests complementarities among pro-environment behaviours and that interventions may have unaccounted positive effects on non-target environment behaviours.

Work in progress

Sustainability Starts at Home: The Role of Children in Shaping Environmental Practices

(with Shubhro Bhattacharya, Sara Constantino, Nirajana Mishra, Nishith Prakash, Shwetlena Sabarwal and Dighbijoy Samaddar)

This study examines the effect of educational interventions on improving pro-environmental attitudes and behaviours within family units in Patna, Bihar. We implement a Randomized Controlled Trial across 4,000 households to analyze the ``spillover’’ effects between children and their parents. We employ four treatment arms: Student-Only, Parent-Only, Combined Student and Parent, and a Control Group, to evaluate the impact of a custom-designed pro-environmental curriculum on both direct recipients and their household counterparts.

Grant: The World Bank, 85,000 USD

Wins and losses in collective actions.

(with Biljana Meiske) AEA RCT Registry

Global warming, deforestation, destruction of wildlife, etc., all represent problems which require coordination on a global level to be successfully resolved. At the same time, they also have their representation on a smaller scale (e.g. on a local level). We study, using a field experiment, whether the experience of participation in a small-scale collective action affects the willingness to contribute in a related but larger collective action. Particularly, we are interested in the motivational and demotivational effects of having achieved a “small win” or having failed to do so, on scaling-up the collective effort, and the relative magnitude of these effects. Furthermore, we investigate whether success (failure) in the smaller scale collective action has heterogeneous effects on participants with different initial propensity to contribute.

Information campaigns, environment norms, and behaviour: Evidence from the field.

AEA RCT Registry

Information campaigns that aim to encourage pro-environment activities are a widely popular policy instrument. In addition to closing the information gap related to target behaviours, such interventions can potentially change the beliefs that individuals hold about the appropriateness of these behaviours. This is particularly likely in the context of environment behaviours because of the normative nature of interventions, where a ‘correct’ behaviour is often encouraged. We look at whether individuals respond to information campaigns in the environmental domain because of their informational value or because they expect the campaign to change the social norm around these behaviours, and want to adhere to these new norms. We aim to separately identify these two channels through a field experiment.

Shaping Minds: The Transformative Effects of Theatre-Based Learning,

(with Ritam Chaurey, Sara Constantino, Shantanu Khanna, Abhiroop Mukhopadhyay and Nishith Prakash)

Despite progress in addressing barriers to human capital in the last two decades, significant learning gaps persist. A new line of research suggests that holistic skills have been associated with positive impacts on later life outcomes. However, there is little evidence supporting the effectiveness of existing traditional classroom-based instructional strategies in improving non-cognitive and socio-emotional skills. In this study, we conduct a randomized control trial in 100schools in Uttarakhand, India to estimate the causal impacts of an experiential learning pedagogy in secondary schools. The curriculum consists of a total of 36 hours of arts and theater-based instruction spread over 24 weekly sessions. We will measure the impacts on cognitive skills (critical thinking and learning), social skills (class participation, network formation, communication skills, pro-sociality), and emotional skills (stress, anxiety, self-care, self-esteem).

Grant: J-PAL, 98,000 USD

Sorting it out: Waste Management in Urban India

(with Ahana Basistha,, Nishith Prakash)

Poor urban waste management has severe negative effects on health and economic outcomes. We conduct a randomized control trial among households in the Patna Municipal Corporation in Bihar, India to measure the effect of messaging interventions on waste segregation behaviour. Our findings indicate that interventions increased the experimentally elicited willingness to pay for waste segregation by 6-8 percentage points. However, they did not significantly alter the day-to-day waste segregation habits of the respondents.

Publications

Sanctioning, selection, and pivotality in voting: theory and experimental results

(with Kai Konrad) Ungated version

Teaching

Behavioural Environmental Economics

Bachelor Seminar, Summer Semester 2024 University of Munich, Germany

Bachelor Seminar, Winter Semester 2023 University of Munich, Germany

International Public Economics

Masters and PhD level, Winter Semester 2017 University of Munich, Germany

Student evaluation score 4.8/5. Detailed evaluation can be found here

Mentoring

Please check out the Lindau Mentoring Hub, a digital platform that connects mentors and mentees in science and academia, from across the world. You can sign up here.

The platform is developed in collaboration with the Lindau Nobel Laureate Meetings and is generously funded by the Dieter Schwarz Foundation.

Equality of opportunities

As the elected equal opportunities officer for the MPI for Tax Law and Public Finance, I spend some of my time advocating for and handling issues of inclusivity in science and academia. You can find out more about the initiatives of the Max Planck Society here. If you would like to get in touch, please write to raisa.sherif@tax.mpg.de.

Podcast

I co-host the Max Planck Economics Podcast with Lisa Windsteiger and Jonas Send. Please find some of the episodes here:

  1. Social Media and the Survival of Autocracies with Galina Zudenkova

  2. How to Motivate Teams for Cognitively Challenging Tasks with Florian Englmaier

  3. Gender Equality, Parental Leave and the Gender Pay Gap with Andreas Peichl

  4. Does Participatory Theatre Empower Women? with Jyotsna Jalan

Press

My friend Arun Sudarsan and I wrote a three part series for the newspaper Malayala Manorama. If you read Malayalam you can find them here, here, and here.