IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this book chapter

Technical Problems in Social Experimentation: Cost versus Ease of Analysis

In: Social Experimentation


  • Jerry A. Hausman
  • David A. Wise


The goal of the paper is to set forth general guidelines that we believe would enhance the usefulness of future social experiments and to suggest ways of correcting for inherent limitations of them. Although the major motivation for an experiment is to overcome the inherent limitations of structural econometric models, in many instances the experimental designs have subverted this motivation. The primary advantages of randomized controlled experiments were often lost. The major complication for the analysis of the experiments was induced by an endogenous sample selection and treatment assignment procedure that selected the experimental participants and assigned them to controlversus treatment groups partly on the basis of the variable whose response the experiments were intended to measure. We propose that to overcome these difficulties, the goal of an experimental design should be as nearly as possible to allow analysis based on a simple analysis of variance model. Although complexities attendant to endogenous stratification can be avoided, there are inherent limitations of the experiments that cannot. Two major ones are self-determination of participation and self-selection out, through attrition.But these problems, we believe, can be corrected for with relative ease if endogenous stratification is eliminated. Finally, we propose that as a guiding principle, the experiments should have as a first priority the precise estimation of a single or a small number of treatment effects.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Jerry A. Hausman & David A. Wise, 1985. "Technical Problems in Social Experimentation: Cost versus Ease of Analysis," NBER Chapters,in: Social Experimentation, pages 187-220 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8376

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Conlisk, John, 1973. "Choice of Response Functional Form in Designing Subsidy Experiments," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 41(4), pages 643-656, July.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Cecilia Elena Rouse, 1997. "Private School Vouchers and Student Achievement: An Evaluation of the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program," NBER Working Papers 5964, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Orley Ashenfelter & David Ashmore & Olivier Deschenes, 1998. "Do Unemployment Insurance Recipients Actively Seek Work? Randomized Trials in Four U.S. States," Working Papers 791, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
    3. V. Kerry Smith & William H. Desvousges & F. Reed Johnson & Ann Fisher, 1990. "Can public information programs affect risk perceptions?," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 9(1), pages 41-59.
    4. Imbens, G.W. & Rubin, D. & Sacerdote, B., 1999. "Estimating the effect of unearned income on labor supply, earnings, savings and consumption : Evidence from a survey of lottery players," Discussion Paper 99.34, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
    5. Ashenfelter, Orley & Ashmore, David & Deschenes, Olivier, 2005. "Do unemployment insurance recipients actively seek work? Evidence from randomized trials in four U.S. States," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 53-75.
    6. Guido W. Imbens & Donald B. Rubin & Bruce I. Sacerdote, 2001. "Estimating the Effect of Unearned Income on Labor Earnings, Savings, and Consumption: Evidence from a Survey of Lottery Players," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(4), pages 778-794, September.
    7. Mullahy, John & Sindelar, Jody, 1996. "Employment, unemployment, and problem drinking," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 15(4), pages 409-434, August.

    More about this item


    Access and download statistics


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:8376. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.