Koichiro Ito, an associate professor at the Harris School of Public Policy, is the 2020 recipient of the Japanese Economic Association’s prestigious Ishikawa Prize. The Prize, awarded to researchers under the age of 50, recognizes those who have made significant contributions in empirical and policy studies to help solve economic and social problems in Japan.

“We are thrilled that Koichiro’s meaningful work has been recognized with this prestigious award,” says Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Distinguished Service Professor in Economics, the College and the Harris School and director of the Energy Policy Institute at the University of Chicago (EPIC). “At the same time, the award comes as no surprise to me. Koichiro dives into some of the biggest energy and environmental questions there are with artful precision and consistently provides decisive answers. This recognition is well deserved.”

Ito was awarded the prize for his important contributions to “the development of new frameworks for the evaluation of environmental and resource policies,” according to the Association. The Association pointed to his 2014 finding that nonlinear electricity pricing is unsuccessful in conserving energy once we incorporate consumers’ sub-optimal responses, as well as his 2015 finding that electricity subsidy programs should better target incentives to customers who are more likely to respond to the economic incentive. These two papers are highly recognized and have been widely cited in the academic community.

Ito has also conducted significant research in Japan, the results of which have far-reaching impacts. In a 2018 study, Ito and his coauthors compared the effectiveness of financial incentives and moral suasion for energy conservation. Another study from 2018 looked at size-based fuel standards and found that the standards incentivize automakers to increase the size of their vehicles.

“I was surprised and deeply honored to receive this award,” Ito says. “Professor Ishikawa was a supremely influential economist in Japan. To be awarded a prize named after him is truly inspiring and motivating as I move forward in my career and seek to continue to live up to this honor.”

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