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Selective Trials: A Principal-Agent Approach to Randomized Controlled Experiments

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  • Chassang, Sylvain
  • Padró i Miquel, Gerard
  • Snowberg, Erik

Abstract

We study the design of randomized controlled experiments in environments where outcomes are significantly affected by unobserved effort decisions taken by the subjects (agents). While standard randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are internally consistent, the unobservability of effort provision compromises external validity. We approach trial design as a principal-agent problem and show that natural extensions of RCTs--which we call selective trials--can help improve the external validity of experiments. In particular, selective trials can disentangle the effects of treatment, effort, and the interaction of treatment and effort. Moreover, they can help experimenters identify when measured treatment effects are affected by erroneous beliefs and inappropriate effort provision.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers in its series CEPR Discussion Papers with number 8003.

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Date of creation: Sep 2010
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Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:8003

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Related research

Keywords: blind trials; compliance; heterogeneous beliefs; incentivized trials; marginal treatment e ects; mechanism design; randomized controlled trials; selection; selective trials;

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References

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  1. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel, 2004. "The Illusion of Sustainability," Working Papers 35, Center for Global Development.
  2. Tomas Philipson & Larry V. Hedges, 1998. "Subject Evaluation in Social Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 381-408, March.
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  4. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing unobservables: identifying information asymmetries with a consumer-credit field experiment," Proceedings 961, Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago.
  5. Jessica Cohen & Pascaline Dupas, 2010. "Free Distribution or Cost-Sharing? Evidence from a Randomized Malaria Prevention Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 125(1), pages 1-45, February.
  6. Sendhil Mullainathan & Joshua Schwartzstein & Andrei Shleifer, 2008. "Coarse Thinking and Persuasion," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(2), pages 577-619, 05.
  7. Emir Kamenica & Matthew Gentzkow, 2009. "Bayesian Persuasion," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 814577000000000369, www.najecon.org.
  8. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2009. "Incentives to Learn," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 437-456, August.
  9. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
  10. Pascaline Dupas, 2011. "Do Teenagers Respond to HIV Risk Information? Evidence from a Field Experiment in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 1-34, January.
  11. Esther Duflo & Rema Hanna, 2005. "Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School," Working Papers id:301, eSocialSciences.
  12. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Jonathan Robinson, 2008. "How High Are Rates of Return to Fertilizer? Evidence from Field Experiments in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(2), pages 482-88, May.
  13. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Elizabeth King & Michael Kremer, 2001. "Vouchers for Private Schooling in Colombia: Evidence from a Randomized Natural Experiment," NBER Working Papers 8343, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  14. Malani, Anup, 2008. "Patient enrollment in medical trials: Selection bias in a randomized experiment," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 144(2), pages 341-351, June.
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  17. 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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  19. Rebecca L. Thornton, 2008. "The Demand for, and Impact of, Learning HIV Status," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 98(5), pages 1829-63, December.
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Cited by:
  1. Anup Malani & Tomas J. Philipson, 2011. "Can Medical Progress be Sustained? Implications of the Link Between Development and Output Markets," NBER Working Papers 17011, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bryan, Gharad & Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2012. "You Can Pick Your Friends, But You Need to Watch Them: Loan Screening and Enforcement in a Referrals Field Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 8857, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  3. Rema Hanna & Esther Duflo & Michael Greenstone, 2012. "Up in Smoke: The Influence of Household Behavior on the Long-Run Impact of Improved Cooking Stoves," Working Papers id:4962, eSocialSciences.
  4. Raymond P. Guiteras & B. Kelsey Jack, 2014. "Incentives, Selection and Productivity in Labor Markets: Evidence from Rural Malawi," NBER Working Papers 19825, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Hunt Allcott, 2012. "Site Selection Bias in Program Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 18373, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Gani Aldashev & Georg Kirchsteiger & Alexander Sebald, 2012. "Assignment procedure biases in randomized policy experiments," Carlo Alberto Notebooks 292, Collegio Carlo Alberto.
  7. B. Kelsey Jack, 2013. "Private Information and the Allocation of Land Use Subsidies in Malawi," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 5(3), pages 113-35, July.
  8. Gregory Fischer & James Berry & Raymond Guiteras, 2012. "Eliciting and utilizing willingness to pay: evidence from field trials in Northern Ghana," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 47913, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.

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