33 - Th ( StefanoDellaVigna UCBerkeleyandNBER...

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Th R l f Th i Fi ld E i The Role of Theory in Field Experiments (Lecture for Economics 196) Stefano DellaVigna UC Berkeley and NBER January 26, 2011 Question y Empirical economists live between two worlds y We learn and teach economics as grounded in theory y utility maximization, y profit maximization, l d d d y supply and demand y We aim to provide empirical facts and policy guidance y How compatible are the two aspects? y What role does theory play in empirical research? y We focus on a fast growing area – field experiments. y We compare to laboratory experiments.
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Overview 1. We document the use of theory in laboratory and field experiments published in the top five journals (AER QJE JPE EMA RESt d) f 8 t (AER, QJE, JPE, EMA, REStud) from 1985 to 2010 2. We categorize experiments y Previous taxonomy (Harrison and List 2004) silent Previous taxonomy (Harrison and List, 2004) silent about use of theory. y We propose a categorization into four groups. 3. We illustrate the role of theory with three examples y Gift exchange y Altruism and social pressure in charitable giving y NIT labor experiments Documenting the Use of Theory in E i Experiments y Teaser Question : How many field experiments have been published since 1985?
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Documenting the Use of Theory in E i Experiments y Teaser Question : How many field experiments have been published since 1985? C t l “f d” d “ t l” fi ld i t y Count only framed and natural field experiments (Harrison and List, 2004) y Include social experiments (e.g., MTO) y Include re analysis of existing experimental data if using micro data (not reproducing a Table) y Exclude cases where randomization not designed to compare treatment and control group (e.g., peer effect studies, lottery winners) Documenting the Use of Theory in E i Experiments y Teaser Question : How many field experiments have been published since 1985? [88]
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Documenting the Use of Theory in E i Experiments y Teaser Question : How many field experiments have been published since 1985? [88] H l b i ? y How many lab experiments? y Count conventional lax experiments and “artefactual” field experiments (‘lab experiments in the field’) Documenting the Use of Theory in E i Experiments y Teaser Question : How many field experiments have been published since 1985? [88] H l b i ? [ ] y How many lab experiments? [277] y Significantly more labexperiments than field experiments y Before 1995: y Almost no field experiments y About 10 lab experiments in top journals per year y After 1995: y Strong increase for both y Recently about 10 field experiments and 20 lab experiments Recently, about 10 field experiments , and 20 lab experiments, published per year
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Count of top 5 Field and Lab Experiments 25 Total (count) 20 ear 10 15 umber per ye 5 Nu 0 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 Year Number of lab experiments Number of field experiments Count of top 5 Field and Lab Experiments 15 AER (count) 4 5 QJE (count) 5 10 Number per yea 1 2 3 Number per yea 0 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 Year Number of lab experiments Number of field experiments 0 1985 1990 1995 2000 2005 2010 Year Number of lab experiments Number of field experiments y
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