Associate Professor
 Economics
UCLA Anderson School of Management


Contact Information:
UCLA Anderson School of Management
110 Westwood Plaza
Cornell Hall, Suite D515
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1481
(310) 825-7348 (office)
(310) 825-1581 (fax)

keith.chen@anderson.ucla.edu
Office hours:
Thursdays, 3:00 to 4:30.

Assistant:
Eric Cardenas
(310) 825-2509 (office)
eric.cardenas@anderson.ucla.edu

 

Keith Chen is an Associate Professor of Economics with tenure at the UCLA Anderson School of Management. His research blurs traditional disciplinary boundaries in both subject and methodology, bringing unorthodox tools to bear on problems at the intersection of Economics, Psychology, and Biology.

In early work, Professor Chen measured what ex-prisoners lives would have looked like had prison conditions been more or less harsh. In work examining the evolutionary origins of economic behavior, he has shown that when monkeys are taught to use money, they display many of the hallmark biases of human economic behavior, suggesting that some of our most fundamental biases are evolutionarily ancient.

Professor Chen's most recent work focuses on how people's economic choices are influenced by the structure of their language. His work has shown that how a person's language encodes future events influences future-oriented behaviors as diverse as saving, smoking, and safe sex.

Research Interests: Behavioral Economics and Microeconomic Theory

See a research statement about my work.

Some Recent Papers:

The Effect of Language on Economic Behavior: Evidence from Savings Rates, Health Behaviors, and Retirement Assets
American Economic Review, April 2013
Additional analyses and tables in an online appendix; data and programs are in a zip file here.

You can read about this paper in these recent articles:

 

Economics: Marshmallows and Rösti(graben)
Science, January 4th, 2013

Obese? Smoker? No Retirement Savings? Perhaps It's Because of the Language You Speak
Big Think, February 5th, 2012

Tomorrow, We Save
Foreign Policy, Sept/Oct 2012

 

Could Your Language Affect Your Ability to Save Money?
TED, Feb 2013

 

How Your Language Affects Your Wealth and Health
Scientific American, March 19th, 2013

 

Can Your Language Influence Your Spending, Eating, and Smoking Habits?
The Atlantic, September 10th, 2013

Are Women Overinvesting in Education? Evidence from the Medical Profession
Joint with Judith Chevalier
Journal of Human Capital,
Summer 2012

You can read about this paper in these recent articles:

  Is Medical School a Worthwhile Investment for Women?
The Atlantic, July 23rd, 2012
Synopsis:
The average female primary-care physician would have been financially better off becoming a physician assistant...

 
Economists Show Primary Care Especially Unrewarding for Women Doctors
Forbes, July 16th, 2012
Synopsis:
According to a new study... most women primary-care doctors would almost certainly have been better off financially had they become physician assistants...

How Choice Affects and Reflects Preferences: Revisiting the Free-Choice Paradigm
Joint with Jane Risen
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, October 2010

You can read about this paper in a recent article:

  And Behind Door No. 1, a Fatal Flaw
The New York Times, April 8th, 2008
Synopsis:
The Monty Hall Problem has struck again, and this time it's not merely embarrassing mathematicians. If the calculations of a Yale economist are correct, there’s a sneaky logical fallacy in some of the most famous experiments in psychology...