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.


Behavioral Economics Applications and Foundations

Projects in this sub-program study households and individuals, specifically the role of “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; behavioral foundations and heterogeneous agents in macroeconomics; 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: the productivity of the scientific enterprise; labor markets for scientists and engineers; patterns of scientific publication, collaboration, and intellectual property protection; markets for scientific equipment and instrumentation; the economics of digitization; new developments in U.S. productivity dynamics and measurement; the economics of artificial intelligence, robotization, and other autonomous technology; 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:  causal inference; persistent identifiers; data citation standards; identification and tracking systems for scholars; federal statistics; smart disclosure platforms for obfuscated markets; data and metadata management protocols; the mathematics of privacy; access to social science datasets containing sensitive information; the replicability of empirical research; and the economics of knowledge contribution and distribution.

Administrative Data Research Facilities

Sloan, with help from a few other foundations, has begun funding “Administrative Data Research Facilities” (ADRF’s) to serve as intermediaries between data producers, like government or companies, and data users, like researchers or statistical agencies. Sloan is also funding projects that provide services to these ADRF’s, ranging from conference convening to technology planning, and from privacy solutions to training and credentialing for researchers seeking access to ADRF data.


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.

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