Economic Institutions, Behavior, & Performance

Program Goal

To support rigorous and objective research projects on U.S. economic structure, behavior, and performance whose findings inform and strengthen decision-making by regulators, policymakers, and the public.


Financial and Institutional Modeling in Macroeconomics

​Projects in this sub-program study interactions between the financial sector and the real economy, specifically the role of banks, regulators, and other institutions.  Research topics include financial frictions; heterogenous agents; intermediation; transaction costs; asymmetric information; regulatory coordination; risk measurement, capital requirements; credit ratings; interbank markets;; microeconomic foundations; liquidity and default; maturity transformation; asset valuation; etc.

Behavioral and Regulatory Effects on Decision-making

​Projects in this sub-program study households and individuals, specifically the of role “choice architecture” on their economic decision-making.  Research topics include risk-taking and insurance markets; time inconsistencies and the annuity paradox; cognitive biases; behavioral applications to policy; experimental testing of nudges or other regulatory interventions; behavioral welfare economics; obfuscated markets; consumer finance; probabilities and perceptions of extreme events; etc.  

Economic Analysis of Science and Technology

​Projects in this sub-program study universities and groundbreaking industries, specifically regarding human capital development and applications of information technology.  Research topics include labor markets for scientists and engineers; high-skilled immigration; patterns of scientific publication, collaboration, and intellectual property protection; the economics of digitization; and the social returns on investments in research and development.

Empirical Economic Research Enablers

​Projects in this sub-program study economic researchers, specifically with regard to their needs, opportunities, incentives, and professional practices.  Research topics include legal entity identifiers; data citation standards; identification and tracking systems for scholars; federal statistics; smart disclosure platforms for obfuscated markets; data and metadata management protocols; privacy and access to social science datasets; the replicability of empirical research; and the economics of knowledge contribution and distribution.


Interested researchers with a relevant project idea should email a letter of inquiry of no more than two pages to Daniel Goroff. When submitting a letter of inquiry to the program, please indicate which sub-program best fits your research project. Before submitting a letter of inquiry, please review the Foundation's guidelines on what we do not fund. Grants made in this program are typically:

  • Empirical and hypothesis-driven;
  • Policy-relevant, but neither “policy research” nor advocacy;
  • Motivated by nonideological questions rather than preconceived answers;
  • Engaged with fundamental puzzles, but using fresh approaches;
  • Unbiased, statistically significant, and replicable;
  • Careful about baselines, controls, confounding variables, and econometrics;
  • Savvy about markets, institutions, regulation, transaction costs, behavioral biases, etc.;
  • Contributors to research infrastructure, datasets, or resources for general use;
  • Generators of highly cited and catalytic results in high-quality journals;
  • Ultimately concerned with the quality of life in the United States.