List, et al: New Study Reveals Nearly Two-thirds of Uber Riders Never Tip

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Even though ride-share company Uber launched the option to tip drivers over two years ago, recent research shows riders choose to tip less than one-fifth of the time. According to a new working paper co-authored by John List of the Kenneth C. Griffin Department of Economics, Uber customers tip on roughly 16% of rides. Those who do tip add an average of $3.11, about 26% of their fare. The paper also found that nearly 60% of ride-share customers never tip, while only about 1% always tip.

Field experiments provide an empirical look at consumer behavior that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. In this case, we found clear differences in tipping behavior informed by environmental and demographic factors, such as gender, age and race.     -- John List

The paper, available here, examined UberX trips from Aug. 18, 2017 to Sept. 14, 2017. A pioneer in the use of field experiments, List and his fellow researchers helped design and implement in-app tipping for Uber. That gave them a chance to generate data during the rollout of the feature in 2017, collecting information from more than 40 million trips. Previously the chief economist at Uber, List now serves in the same role at Lyft. (Credit: UChicago News/Jack Wang)

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Heckman Receives Prestigious Friendship Award from China

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Nobel Laureate James J. Heckman, the Henry Schultz Distinguished Service Professor in Economics at the University of Chicago, has received the Friendship Award from the Chinese government.

Established in 1991, the Friendship Award is the highest honor issued by the Chinese government to foreign experts. Awardees are chosen for their outstanding contributions to China’s economic and social progress. The award is not only presented in recognition of the foreign expert’s contribution to the Chinese but also a symbol of friendship. Approximately 50 awards are granted each year; this year 42 were awarded.

Heckman is director of the Center for the Economics of Human Development at the University of Chicago, which uses rigorous empirical research to determine effective human capital policies and program design. One of the center’s capstone projects is the ChinaReach Project, a groundbreaking early childhood randomized control trial designed to evaluate the joint impact of China’s Children Nutrition Improvement Project in Poverty-stricken Areas (CNNIP) and the Jamaica Parenting and Psychosocial Stimulation Curriculum.

In 2018, CEHD launched a collaborative research initiative with the Institute for Economic and Social Research (IESR) at Jinan University with the aim of investigating human flourishing. The study of human flourishing examines the circumstances under which people are able to develop the skills needed to thrive in our current economy. The UChicago-Jinan Initiative focuses on the context of China and facilitates academic exchange between The University of Chicago and Jinan University.

“Our joint research with Professor Heckman will not only contribute to general knowledge, but will also help China to better cope with its pressing practical challenges,” said Shuaizhang Feng, Dean of IESR.

Professor Heckman was also invited to give the acceptance speech on behalf of all the recipients at this year’s award convocation, held September 30, as part of China's 70th National Day Ceremony.

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