Sarah Zaccagni

I am post-doctoral fellow at the Department of Economics of the University of Copenhagen, affiliated with the Center for Economic Behavior and Inequality (CEBI) and the  Center for Healthy  Aging (CEHA) of the University of Copenhagen.

My research interests lie in Behavioral Economics, Health Economics, and Economics of Education. I work on applied questions using observational and experimental data.

I am also a leading member of the Team of Researchers In Behavioral Economics (TRIBE), a member of the Network for Young Scholars (NYS) in the Center for Healthy Aging, and of the European Expert Network on Economics of Education (EENEE).

In an effort to promote evidence-based policymaking in Italy I am a member of the Promotion Committee of Studi Randomizzati, and I collaborate with the Department of Behavioural Policy of R² - Ufficio di scopo Innovazione per le Politiche Comportamentali of the Metropolitan City of Rome Capital. 

Here is my CV

Selected works

Gender Mix and Team Performance: Differences between Exogenously and Endogenously Formed Teams (with Ainoa Aparicio Fenoll

Labour Economics, 102269, 2022.

We conduct a randomized controlled trial to study how the self-selection of individuals into teams changes the impact of a team’s gender composition on gender preferences, team performance, and individual performance. We randomly divide a sample of high-performing high school students into two groups: we assign students in one group to teams of varying gender composition, and we allow the students in the other group to form teams freely. We find that the latter choose more male-predominant teams than the former, and if self-selected into gender- biased teams, students prefer even more gender-biased teams ex-post. We also find that female-predominant teams underperform other types of teams when we form teams exogenously, but these differences disappear when students form teams endogenously.

Mathematics Camps: A Gift for Gifted Students? (with Ainoa Aparicio Fenoll and Flavia Coda Moscarola)

Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 191:738–751, 2021.

We evaluate a mathematics camp for gifted high-school students. During the camp, students work in teams, trying to solve advanced mathematics problems with the help of manipulatives. We randomize participation in the camp and test the effects of such participation on problem-solving skills, self-concept, and career intentions. Results show that participants improve their problem-solving skills, especially in questions that require the use of logic. We also find positive effects on students' self-concept. Students with a lower school math score benefit more from the program. Finally, participating in the mathematics camp makes students in first high school grade more willing to go to university.

Promoting Social Distancing in a Pandemic: Beyond the Good Intention  (with Paolo Falco)

PLoS ONE 16(12): e0260457,1 2021.

Do reminders to promote social distancing achieve the desired effects on behavior? Much of the existing literature analyses impacts on people’s intentions to comply. We run a randomised controlled trial in Denmark to test different versions of a reminder to stay home at the beginning of the crisis. Using a two-stage design, we follow up with recipients and analyse their subsequent self-reported behaviour. We find that the reminder increases ex-ante intentions to comply when it emphasises the consequences of non-compliance for the subjects themselves and their families, while it has no effect when the emphasis is on other people or the country as a whole. We also find, however, that impacts on intentions do not translate into equivalent impacts on actions. Only people in poor health react to the reminder by staying home significantly more. Our results shed light on important gaps between people’s intentions and their actions in responding to the recommendations of health authorities.