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Field Experiments: A Bridge between Lab and Naturally Occurring Data

  • List John A.

    ()

    (University of Chicago and NBER)

Laboratory experiments have been used extensively in economics in the past several decades to lend both positive and normative insights into a myriad of important economic issues. This study discusses a related approach that has increasingly grown in prominence of late—field experiments. I argue that field experiments serve as a useful bridge between data generated in the lab and empirical studies using naturally-occurring data. In discussing this relationship, I highlight that field experiments can yield important insights into economic theory and provide useful guidance to policymakers. I also draw attention to an important methodological contribution of field experiments: they provide an empirical account of behavioral principles that are shared across different domains. In this regard, at odds with conventional wisdom, I argue that representativeness of the environment, rather than representative of the sampled population, is the most crucial variable in determining generalizability of results for a large class of experimental laboratory games.

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Article provided by De Gruyter in its journal The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy.

Volume (Year): 5 (2007)
Issue (Month): 2 (April)
Pages: 1-47

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Handle: RePEc:bpj:bejeap:v:advances.6:y:2007:i:2:n:8
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