Raisa Sherif

Raisa Sherif


I am a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Department of Public Economics at the Max Planck Institute for Tax Law and Public Finance in Munich. I completed my PhD from the University of Munich and an undergraduate degree from the Indian Institute of Technology - Madras. I am also an invited researcher at J-PAL.

My research focuses on understanding pro-environmental behaviours and the effectiveness of policy interventions targeted at them. I study these topics using insights from behavioural economics and combining experimental methods like field, lab-in-the-field, and online survey experiments.

Please find my CV here

  • Environmental Economics
  • Behavioural Economics
  • Development
  • 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

Impact, Inspiration, or Image: On the Trade-Offs Between Efficient and Visible Pro-Environmental Behaviors

Working Paper (with Sven Simon)

Today’s environmental challenges prompt individuals to take personal actions, though motivations vary. This paper presents causal evidence of a trade-off between two motivations behind pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs): maximizing environmental impact or being seen as green. In an experiment on voluntary carbon offsetting, we first isolate each motivation and quantify their impact. We then investigate whether individuals deliberately trade-off impact for the visibility of their actions, and why they do so. Our results show that while individuals respond to salient differences in efficiency and visibility, visible PEBs crowd out efficient alternatives, indicating a preference for being seen as green over actual environmental impact. We disentangle two motivations driving this preference for visible actions: social image concerns and role model aspirations. Role model aspirations exert a stronger influence, leading individuals to choose visible PEBs over efficient ones more frequently.

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

Working Paper

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

Intergenerational Transmission of Pro-Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors

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

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.

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).

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.


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

(with Kai Konrad) Ungated version


Behavioural Environmental Economics

Bachelor Seminar, Summer Semester 2024, Winter Semester 2023-24, 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


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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. If you would like to get in touch, please write to raisa.sherif@tax.mpg.de.