Kathrin Loer is an NRW Fellow at AICGS from October until December 2019. Prior to her research stay at AICGS, she was a visiting professor for International Political Economy at the University of Osnabrück. Dr. Loer is an assistant professor (Habilitandin) at the FernUniversität in Hagen. As a principle investigator she has been responsible for a research project on “Policy Instruments in Consumer Policy” (IniVpol) since 2017. Dr. Loer researched and taught as a research assistant and later as a post-doc at the University of Osnabrück from 2007 to 2012 where she received her PhD in 2010. Between 2012 and 2013 she held a position as Senior Consultant in the field of public health and worked for a public policy consultancy in Berlin. Dr. Loer is an alumnus of the Japanese-American-German Frontiers of Science Symposium (JAGFOS) and part of the Humboldt Network (Alexander von Humboldt Foundation).
Dr. Loer’s present research is focused on studying political strategies that try to influence individual behavior (e.g., in health, environmental policy, and consumer policy). She is particularly interested in the role that behavioral sciences play in public policy. She wrote extensively about policy instruments and developed a concept on how to understand behavioral public policies. Dr. Loer not only investigates a broad spectrum of policies that address individual behavior, but also researches the influences on policymaking in a broader sense, especially with regard to stakeholder interests and external effects on policymaking.
During her time at AICGS, Dr. Loer will analyze how policies in the U.S. address and affect consumers with regard a) to healthy behavior (nutrition and physical activity) and with regard b) to energy use in private households. Governments in many countries try to find effective policy instruments in order to reduce obesity rates (NCD-prevention) and to reduce emissions (climate policy). However, finding such policies is closely linked to fundamental political questions on how intrusive public policy can or should be and how the relationship between the state and its citizens is shaped. Thus, policymakers are aware that designing effective policies can severely conflict with citizens’ or stakeholders’ interests since they would be more or less regulated and their freedom of choice be limited in one way or the other. More and more, behavioral insights seem to help reduce this conflict and play an important role for policymakers. But it is still unclear why specific policy instruments are chosen, how facets of the policy process affect the choice of instruments, and under which circumstances behavioral insights come into play. By analyzing the policies and the policymaking processes in the U.S. on the state (New York and Florida) and national level that preceded such policies, the project aims to shed light on these questions in order to contribute to the debate on policy instruments. The analysis will furthermore contribute to the debate by giving in-depth insights into empirical cases that are relevant for public health and climate policy.