Field Experiments Simple Rules

Field Experiments Simple Rules - NBER WORKING PAPER SERIES...

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Unformatted text preview: NBER WORKING PAPER SERIES SO YOU WANT TO RUN AN EXPERIMENT, NOW WHAT? SOME SIMPLE RULES OF THUMB FOR OPTIMAL EXPERIMENTAL DESIGN John A. List Sally Sadoff Mathis Wagner Working Paper 15701 http://www.nber.org/papers/w15701 NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138 January 2010 We thank the Editor, two anonymous referees, Glenn Harrison, Emily Oster, Stephen Raudenbush, Azeem Shaikh, and seminar participants at the University of Chicago for useful comments. Clifford Clive provided research assistance. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research. 2010 by John A. List, Sally Sadoff, and Mathis Wagner. All rights reserved. Short sections of text, not to exceed two paragraphs, may be quoted without explicit permission provided that full credit, including notice, is given to the source. So you want to run an experiment, now what? Some Simple Rules of Thumb for Optimal Experimental Design John A. List, Sally Sadoff, and Mathis Wagner NBER Working Paper No. 15701 January 2010 JEL No. C9,C91,C92,C93 ABSTRACT Experimental economics represents a strong growth industry. In the past several decades the method has expanded beyond intellectual curiosity, now meriting consideration alongside the other more traditional empirical approaches used in economics. Accompanying this growth is an influx of new experimenters who are in need of straightforward direction to make their designs more powerful. This study provides several simple rules of thumb that researchers can apply to improve the efficiency of their experimental designs. We buttress these points by including empirical examples from the literature. John A. List Department of Economics University of Chicago 1126 East 59th Chicago, IL 60637 and NBER jlist@uchicago.edu Sally Sadoff D ep artmen t of E conomics U niversity of Chicago sadoff@uchicago.edu Mathis Wagner Collegio Carlo Alberto Via Real Collegio 30 10024 Moncalieri (TO) Italy mathis.wagner@carloalberto.org 1 Introduction Ever since economists became engaged in the data business, they have grappled with how to construct the proper counterfactual. The concept of identifying a treatment ef- fect is simple enough conceptually, but in practice a major problem is one of a missing counterfactual - person i is not observed in more than one state simultaneously. Within economics, measurement approaches can be divided into two main categories: estimation of models that make use of naturally-occurring data and approaches wherein the analyst herself governs the data generation process. A handful of popular empirical approaches are typically used when the analyst is dealing with naturally-occurring data, but the lit- erature is replete with criticisms of their identifying assumptions, many times based on restrictiveness or implausibility (see Blundell and Costas-Dias, 2002, for a useful review)....
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Field Experiments Simple Rules - NBER WORKING PAPER SERIES...

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