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Photo: Professor John A. List

Photo: Professor John A. List

John A. List at helm of the John Mitchell Lab

23 September 2019

3 minutes read

Professor John A. List, world-leading applied economist and former Chief Economist of Uber and current Chief Economist of Lyft, has just joined the Research School of Economics’ John Mitchell Economics of Poverty Lab (the Lab).

In an impressive career spanning decades, John has used field experiments to inform dozens of ground-breaking studies on questions ranging from gender-based wage disparities to employee effort and, in doing so, changed the way we view these society-wide problems.

“Field experiments give you something unique, in that you’re generating the data yourself, you’re not waiting for the world to give you those data. And you can go beyond measurement and figure out the whys behind the data patterns,” says John.

John’s appointment is a coup for the Lab, where field experiments underpin significant research agendas around poverty and income inequality including Dr Sutanuka Roy’s current work on improving educational outcomes for socially disadvantaged students in India.

The University’s excitement at welcoming John is matched only by his enthusiasm at the opportunity.

We can really revolutionise how policy makers think about evidence-based policy.

“This opportunity was too good to pass up. The Lab has all the necessary ingredients to change the world, in really interesting and important ways,” John said.

Indeed, John sees the Lab as for a source of evidence for policymakers both here and abroad.

“We can really revolutionise how policy makers think about evidence-based policy and we can leverage the data and opportunities here to make scientific advances,” he said.

To this end, John has already started conversations with key federal government bodies including the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s Behavioural Economics Team of Australia, who run field experiments to inform federal policy. These conversations will be continued by Professor Michael Price, himself an internationally recognised field experiment economist, recruited by ANU to be John’s boots on the ground when John is fulfilling responsibilities at the University of Chicago.

The Lab’s next goal is to hire in more of the best human capital in the world, noting “If you don’t want to change the world, we don’t have a spot for you.”


The College is always keen to explore research collaborations with the public and private sector and to reconnect with Alumni. Please get in touch if you would like to know more.


The picture in the story was provided by John A. List.

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Updated:   30 September 2019 / Responsible Officer:  CBE Communications and Outreach / Page Contact:  College Web Team