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On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With a Response to Commentors

Author

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  • Omar Al-Ubaydli
  • John A. List

Abstract

Economists are increasingly turning to the experimental method as a means to estimate causal effects. By using randomization to identify key treatment effects, theories previously viewed as untestable are now scrutinized, efficacy of public policies are now more easily verified, and stakeholders can swiftly add empirical evidence to aid their decision-making. This study provides an overview of experimental methods in economics, with a special focus on developing an economic theory of generalizability. Given that field experiments are in their infancy, our secondary focus pertains to a discussion of the various parameters that they identify, and how they add to scientific knowledge. We conclude that until we conduct more field experiments that build a bridge between the lab and the naturally-occurring settings of interest we cannot begin to make strong conclusions empirically on the crucial question of generalizability from the lab to the field.

Suggested Citation

  • Omar Al-Ubaydli & John A. List, 2013. "On the Generalizability of Experimental Results in Economics: With a Response to Commentors," CESifo Working Paper Series 4543, CESifo.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ceswps:_4543
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    File URL: https://www.cesifo.org/DocDL/cesifo1_wp4543.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Potters, Jan & Stoop, Jan, 2016. "Do cheaters in the lab also cheat in the field?," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 87(C), pages 26-33.
    2. Christiane Bradler & Robert Dur & Susanne Neckermann & Arjan Non, 2016. "Employee Recognition and Performance: A Field Experiment," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 62(11), pages 3085-3099, November.
    3. Beck, Adrian & Kerschbamer, Rudolf & Qiu, Jianying & Sutter, Matthias, 2014. "Car mechanics in the lab––Investigating the behavior of real experts on experimental markets for credence goods," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 108(C), pages 166-173.
    4. Eszter Czibor & David Jimenez‐Gomez & John A. List, 2019. "The Dozen Things Experimental Economists Should Do (More of)," Southern Economic Journal, John Wiley & Sons, vol. 86(2), pages 371-432, October.
    5. John A. List & Robert Metcalfe, 2014. "Field experiments in the developed world: an introduction," Oxford Review of Economic Policy, Oxford University Press, vol. 30(4), pages 585-596.
    6. Difang Huang & Zhengyang Bao, 2020. "Gender Differences in Reaction to Enforcement Mechanisms: A Large-Scale Natural Field Experiment," Monash Economics Working Papers 08-20, Monash University, Department of Economics.
    7. Ferré, Marie & Engel, Stefanie & Gsottbauer, Elisabeth, 2018. "Which Agglomeration Payment for a Sustainable Management of Organic Soils in Switzerland? – An Experiment Accounting for Farmers' Cost Heterogeneity," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 150(C), pages 24-33.
    8. Fo Kodjo Dzinyefa Aflagah & Tanguy Bernard & Angelino Viceisza, 2019. "Cheap Talk and Coordination in the Lab and in the Field: Collective Commercialization in Senegal," NBER Working Papers 26045, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    lab and field experiments; generalizability;

    JEL classification:

    • C90 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - General
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments

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