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Do get-out-the-vote calls reduce turnout? The importance of statistical methods for field experiments

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  • Kosuke Imai
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    Abstract

    In their landmark study of a field experiment, Gerber and Green (2000) found that get-out-the-vote calls reduce turnout by five percentage points. In this article, I introduce statistical methods that can uncover discrepancies between experimental design and actual implementation. The application of this methodology shows that Gerber and Green's negative finding is caused by inadvertent deviations from their stated experimental protocol. The initial discovery led to revisions of the original data by the authors and retraction of the numerical results in their article. Analysis of their revised data, however, reveals new systematic patterns of implementation errors. Indeed, treatment assignments of the revised data appear to be even less randomized than before their corrections. To adjust for these problems, I employ a more appropriate statistical method and demonstrate that telephone canvassing increases turnout by five percentage points. This article demonstrates how statistical methods can find and correct complications of field experiments.

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    File URL: http://karlan.yale.edu/fieldexperiments/papers/00272.pdf
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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by The Field Experiments Website in its series Natural Field Experiments with number 00272.

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    Date of creation: 2005
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    Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00272

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    Web page: http://www.fieldexperiments.com

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    Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:
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    1. Kosuke Imai & David A. van Dyk, 2004. "Causal Inference With General Treatment Regimes: Generalizing the Propensity Score," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 99, pages 854-866, January.
    2. Donald Green & Alan Gerber, 2001. "Getting out the youth vote: Results from randomized field experiments," Natural Field Experiments 00260, The Field Experiments Website.
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    Cited by:
    1. Imai, Kosuke, 2008. "Sharp bounds on the causal effects in randomized experiments with "truncation-by-death"," Statistics & Probability Letters, Elsevier, vol. 78(2), pages 144-149, February.
    2. Laura Langbein, 2009. "Beyond random assignment for internal validity and beyond social research for random assignment," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 28(1), pages 173-174.
    3. Gine, Xavier & Mansuri, Ghazala, 2011. "Together we will : experimental evidence on female voting behavior in Pakistan," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5692, The World Bank.

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