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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 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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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17062.

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Date of creation: May 2011
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Publication status: published as Jens Ludwig & Jeffrey R. Kling & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2011. "Mechanism Experiments and Policy Evaluations," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(3), pages 17-38, Summer.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17062

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  18. Katz, Lawrence & Duncan, Greg J. & Kling, Jeffrey R. & Kessler, Ronald C. & Ludwig, Jens & Sanbonmatsu, Lisa & Liebman, Jeffrey B., 2008. "What Can We Learn about Neighborhood Effects from the Moving to Opportunity Experiment?," Scholarly Articles 2766959, Harvard University Department of Economics.
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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
Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
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Cited by:
  1. Hunt Allcott, 2012. "Site Selection Bias in Program Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 18373, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Dolan, P. & Hallsworth, M. & Halpern, D. & King, D. & Metcalfe, R. & Vlaev, I., 2012. "Influencing behaviour: The mindspace way," Journal of Economic Psychology, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 33(1), pages 264-277.
  3. Delfgaauw, Josse & Dur, Robert & Non, Arjan & Verbeke, Willem, 2014. "Dynamic incentive effects of relative performance pay: A field experiment," Labour Economics, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 28(C), pages 1-13.
  4. Steffen Altmann & Christian Traxler, 2012. "Nudges at the Dentist," Working Paper Series of the Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods 2012_15, Max Planck Institute for Research on Collective Goods.
  5. Scarlato, Margherita, 2012. "Social Enterprise, Capabilities and Development: Lessons from Ecuador," MPRA Paper 37618, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  6. 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, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 356-379.
  7. Woolcock, Michael, 2013. "Using case studies to explore the external validity of .complex. development interventions," Working Paper Series, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER) UNU-WIDER Research Paper , World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
  8. Muller, Sean, 2014. "Randomised trials for policy: a review of the external validity of treatment effects," SALDRU Working Papers, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town 127, Southern Africa Labour and Development Research Unit, University of Cape Town.
  9. Michèle Belot (University of Edinburgh) and Jonathan James (University of Bath), 2013. "Partner Selection into Policy Relevant Field Experiments," ESE Discussion Papers, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh 236, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  10. 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, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 147-160.
  11. G. Zanella & R. Banerjee, 2014. "Experiencing breast cancer at the workplace," Working Papers wp938, Dipartimento Scienze Economiche, Universita' di Bologna.

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