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Economic Experiments for Policy Analysis and Program Design: A Guide for Agricultural Decisionmakers

Author

Listed:
  • Higgins, Nathaniel
  • Hellerstein, Daniel
  • Wallander, Steven
  • Lynch, Lori

Abstract

Economic experiments can help inform the design and implementation of government policies, especially newly conceived or novel policies. This report reviews experimental methods, with a focus on when and how they can be effectively used to inform agricultural program decisions. To illustrate the capabilities of experimental methods, five case studies are presented. First, a laboratory study examines whether it is possible to improve the cost-effectiveness of auctions similar to those used in voluntary land retirement programs. A second laboratory study, with both students and farmers, illustrates how a combination of targeting and bonuses may be able to improve environmental outcomes by encouraging coordination among conservation program enrollees. The third study, conducted in the field to more closely mimic real-world conditions, measures how farmers trade off current income against future income and finds farmers will accept less money if paid today rather than in the future. The fourth and fifth studies are randomized controlled trials testing the marketing of USDA programs; these show how outreach letters can increase participation in the Conservation Reserve Program and in county committee elections.

Suggested Citation

  • Higgins, Nathaniel & Hellerstein, Daniel & Wallander, Steven & Lynch, Lori, 2017. "Economic Experiments for Policy Analysis and Program Design: A Guide for Agricultural Decisionmakers," Economic Research Report 262456, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
  • Handle: RePEc:ags:uersrr:262456
    DOI: 10.22004/ag.econ.262456
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
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    Cited by:

    1. Timothy N. Cason & Steven Y. Wu, 2019. "Subject Pools and Deception in Agricultural and Resource Economics Experiments," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 73(3), pages 743-758, July.
    2. Leah H. Palm-Forster & Paul J. Ferraro & Nicholas Janusch & Christian A. Vossler & Kent D. Messer, 2019. "Behavioral and Experimental Agri-Environmental Research: Methodological Challenges, Literature Gaps, and Recommendations," Environmental & Resource Economics, Springer;European Association of Environmental and Resource Economists, vol. 73(3), pages 719-742, July.
    3. Janusch, Nicholas & Palm-Forster, Leah H. & Messer, Kent D. & Ferraro, Paul J., 2017. "Behavioral Insights for Agri-Environmental Program and Policy Design," 2018 Allied Social Sciences Association (ASSA) Annual Meeting, January 5-7, 2018, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 266299, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association.

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    Keywords

    Environmental Economics and Policy; Institutional and Behavioral Economics; Research Methods/ Statistical Methods;

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