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Experimental Methods and the Welfare Evaluation of Policy Lotteries

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  • Glenn W. Harrison

Abstract

Policies impose lotteries of outcomes on individuals, since we never know exactly what the effects of the policy will be. In order to evaluate alternative policies, we therefore need to make some assumptions about individual preferences, even before social welfare functions are applied. Instead of making a priori assumptions about those preferences that are likely to be wrong, there are two broad ways in which experimental methods are used to evaluate policy. One is to use experiments to estimate individual preferences, valuations and beliefs, and use those estimates as priors in the evaluation of policy. The other approach is to undertake deliberate randomization, or exploit accidental or natural randomization, to infer the effects of policy. The strengths and weaknesses of these approaches are reviewed, and their complementarities identified.

Suggested Citation

  • Glenn W. Harrison, 2011. "Experimental Methods and the Welfare Evaluation of Policy Lotteries," Experimental Economics Center Working Paper Series 2011-08, Experimental Economics Center, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.
  • Handle: RePEc:exc:wpaper:2011-08
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    File URL: http://excen.gsu.edu/workingpapers/GSU_EXCEN_WP_2011-08.pdf
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    Cited by:

    1. Ihli, Hanna Julia & Chiputwa, Brian & Musshoff, Oliver, 2013. "Do Changing Probabilities or Payoffs in Lottery-Choice Experiments Matter? Evidence from Rural Uganda," GlobalFood Discussion Papers 158146, Georg-August-Universitaet Goettingen, GlobalFood, Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development.
    2. Subha Mani & Saurabh Singhal & Smriti Sharma & Utteeyo Dasgupta, 2016. "Eliciting risk preferences: Firefighting in the field," WIDER Working Paper Series 047, World Institute for Development Economic Research (UNU-WIDER).
    3. Johannes G. Jaspersen, 2016. "Hypothetical Surveys And Experimental Studies Of Insurance Demand: A Review," Journal of Risk & Insurance, The American Risk and Insurance Association, vol. 83(1), pages 217-255, January.
    4. repec:kap:geneva:v:43:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1057_s10713-018-0024-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Charness, Gary & Viceisza, Angelino, 2011. "Comprehension and risk elicitation in the field: Evidence from rural Senegal," IFPRI discussion papers 1135, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
    6. Liesbeth Colen & Sergio Gomez Y Paloma & Uwe Latacz-Lohmann & Marianne Lefebvre & Sophie Thoyer & Raphaële Préget, 2015. "(How) can economic experiments inform EU agricultural policy?," JRC Working Papers JRC97340, Joint Research Centre (Seville site).
    7. Giuseppe Attanasi & Christian Gollier & Aldo Montesano & Noemi Pace, 2014. "Eliciting ambiguity aversion in unknown and in compound lotteries: a smooth ambiguity model experimental study," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 77(4), pages 485-530, December.

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