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Mechanism Experiments and Policy Evaluations

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  • Jens Ludwig
  • Jeffrey R. Kling
  • Sendhil Mullainathan

Abstract

Randomized controlled trials are increasingly used to evaluate policies. How can we make these experiments as useful as possible for policy purposes? We argue greater use should be made of experiments that identify the behavioral mechanisms that are central to clearly specified policy questions, what we call "mechanism experiments." These types of experiments can be of great policy value even if the intervention that is tested (or its setting) does not correspond exactly to any realistic policy option.

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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/jep.25.3.17
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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal Journal of Economic Perspectives.

Volume (Year): 25 (2011)
Issue (Month): 3 (Summer)
Pages: 17-38

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Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:25:y:2011:i:3:p:17-38

Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.25.3.17
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  1. Jane G. Fortson & Lisa Sanbonmatsu, 2010. "Child Health and Neighborhood Conditions: Results from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 45(4), pages 840-864.
  2. Jeffrey R. Kling & Jens Ludwig & Lawrence F. Katz, 2004. "Neighborhood Effects on Crime for Female and Male Youth: Evidence from a Randomized Housing Voucher Experiment," NBER Working Papers 10777, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  3. Joshua D. Angrist & J�rn-Steffen Pischke, 2010. "The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics: How Better Research Design Is Taking the Con out of Econometrics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 3-30, Spring.
  4. John List & David Reiley, 2008. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00091, The Field Experiments Website.
  5. Lisa Sanbonmatsu & Jeffrey R. Kling & Greg J. Duncan & Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, 2006. "Neighborhoods and Academic Achievement: Results from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
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  7. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2008. "The Experimental Approach to Development Economics," NBER Working Papers 14467, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  8. Christopher Jepsen & Steven Rivkin, 2009. "Class Size Reduction and Student Achievement: The Potential Tradeoff between Teacher Quality and Class Size," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 44(1).
  9. James J. Heckman, 2010. "Building Bridges Between Structural and Program Evaluation Approaches to Evaluating Policy," NBER Working Papers 16110, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  11. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
  12. Kling, Jeffrey R. & Kessler, Ronald C. & Ludwig, Jens & Sanbonmatsu, Lisa & Liebman, Jeffrey B. & Katz, Lawrence & Duncan, Greg J., 2008. "What Can We Learn about Neighborhood Effects from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment?," Scholarly Articles 2766959, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  13. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records: Errata," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(5), pages 1284-86, December.
  14. Meyer, Bruce D, 1995. "Natural and Quasi-experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 151-61, April.
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  16. Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2007. "Ex Ante Policy Evaluation, Structural Estimation and Model Selection," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 97(2), pages 48-52, May.
  17. Elizabeth A. Stuart & Stephen R. Cole & Catherine P. Bradshaw & Philip J. Leaf, 2011. "The use of propensity scores to assess the generalizability of results from randomized trials," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 174(2), pages 369-386, 04.
  18. Bisakha Sen & Stephen Mennemeyer & Lisa C. Gary, 2009. "The Relationship Between Neighborhood Quality and Obesity Among Children," NBER Working Papers 14985, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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  20. Anup Malani, 2006. "Identifying Placebo Effects with Data from Clinical Trials," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 114(2), pages 236-256, April.
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Citations

Blog mentions

As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
  1. An incrementalist view of Impact Evaluation and knowledge
    by Jed Friedman in Development Impact on 2012-05-02 13:27:23
  2. Not all cooking stoves are created equal: Contrasting results on improved cook stove programs in recent evaluations
    by Jed Friedman in Development Impact on 2012-06-13 12:59:07
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Cited by:
  1. Wanjala, Bernadette M. & Muradian, Roldan, 2013. "Can Big Push Interventions Take Small-Scale Farmers out of Poverty? Insights from the Sauri Millennium Village in Kenya," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 147-160.
  2. Ferraro, Paul J. & Miranda, Juan José, 2013. "Heterogeneous treatment effects and mechanisms in information-based environmental policies: Evidence from a large-scale field experiment," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 356-379.
  3. Dolan, P. & Hallsworth, M. & Halpern, D. & King, D. & Metcalfe, R. & Vlaev, I., 2012. "Influencing behaviour: The mindspace way," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 264-277.
  4. Michèle Belot (University of Edinburgh) and Jonathan James (University of Bath), 2013. "Partner Selection into Policy Relevant Field Experiments," ESE Discussion Papers 236, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  5. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Non, Arjan & Verbeke, Willem, 2013. "Dynamic Incentive Effects of Relative Performance Pay: A Field Experiment," IZA Discussion Papers 7652, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
  6. Woolcock, Michael, 2013. "Using case studies to explore the external validity of .complex. development interventions," Working Paper Series UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  7. Scarlato, Margherita, 2012. "Social Enterprise, Capabilities and Development: Lessons from Ecuador," MPRA Paper 37618, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  8. Steffen Altmann & Christian Traxler, 2012. "Nudges at the Dentist," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_15, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.

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