Dr. David Reinstein

Economics, social science, statistics, data science and field experiments, charitable giving and effective altruism, research and writing,

PhD (University of California, Berkeley, Economics)

Senior Economist, Rethink Priorities, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Maastricht. Previous positions: Lecturer (University of Essex), Senior Lecturer (Exeter University)

My research and impact work focuses on

(i) effective charitable giving and other-regarding behavior,

  • what motivates it (see this synthesis),
  • particularly considering the impact of effectiveness information,
  • and its impact.

(ii) applied microeconomics and social science: measuring social, psychological, and institutional influences on life choices and consumer behavior, and

(iii) building and measuring tools and policies aiming to improve social outcomes.

I combine microeconomic modeling, robust statistical analysis of observational data, and field experiments and trials to bring evidence to a variety of interconnected questions, and provide tools for philanthropists, nonprofit organisations, governments, and managers. I am interested in a range of tools and methods, including causal inference, meta-analysis, predictive machine learning, Bayesian approaches, and Monte-carlo policy simulations.

I am involved with several projects aiming to produce and encourage open and collaborative research, learning, and positive impact outside of traditional academic settings.

I published papers…

… in traditional academic journals such as the Journal of Public Economics, Journal of Economics and Management Strategy, and Social Psychological and Personality Science. See my CV for a full list. These include:

Observational/causal econometrics: “The Influence of Expert Reviews … A Case Study of Movie Critics” (2005), “Does One Contribution Come at the Expense of Another?…” (2011)

Field and lab experiments: “Decomposing Desert and Tangibility Effects in a Charitable Giving Experiment” (2012), “Ex-ante Commitments to `Give if you Win’ Exceed Donations After a Win” (2018)

Applied microeconomic/behavioral theory: “Losing Face” (2018), “Anonymous Rituals” (2012), “Efficient Consumer Altruism and Fair Trade Products” (2012)

The new way

Peer review is great (and peer evaluation is better), but in the 2020’s we can do better than paying Elsevier&co to “publish” static pdfs for us. I’m working to research/write/gain-critical-feedback in dynamic, collaborative, open/transparent, and continuously-updated formats.

Further discussion: See the ‘unjournal’ discussion and project board

Some of my work-in-progress in this mode:

A broad project of synthesis and meta-analysis: Increasing effective charitable giving: The puzzle, what we know, what we need to know next

Reporting on an experimental research project project: Impact of impact treatments on giving: field experiments and synthesis

Teaching/learning and research resource ‘web books’, and building and sharing knowledge and notes

Researching and writing for Economics students,

Microeconomics (MSc teaching)

Statistics, econometrics, experiment and survey methods, data science: Notes (in progress)

Other projects and affiliations

*Ironically, I’m “humbled” by the honor of “winning” grants (so humbled that I feel compelled to announce it on my CV here

Outreach/impact projects:

Effective Altruism Market Testing team (EAMT)* Public ‘gitbook’ action and reporting space

Earlier impact project: Innovations in Fundraising

Project link


This website is created using the cool blogdown package in RStudio. The website is adapted from a custom theme created by my colleague Willem Sleegers, but heavily inspired by other work.