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Field Experiments: Here Today Gone Tomorrow?


  • John List


Once believed to be an impossibility, field experiments in economics now occupy a central place in the empiricist's quiver. In the past few decades alone field experiments have taken on much greater import in academe, across organizations, as well as for policymakers. But is this emergence simply a fad that will soon return field experiments to obscurity? I argue in this article that there is something fundamental about the emergence of field experiments, as controlling the assignment mechanism in the field provides unparalleled power to both understand the "effects of causes" and the "causes of effects." This knowledge generation then begins to uncover the generalizability and scalability of knowledge. Quite the opposite of a withering tool that will be gone tomorrow, I urge economists to "double down" on this comparative advantage and in doing so I provide four methodological paths which I hope will cement the promise and growth of field experiments in the social sciences.

Suggested Citation

  • John List, 2024. "Field Experiments: Here Today Gone Tomorrow?," Natural Field Experiments 00788, The Field Experiments Website.
  • Handle: RePEc:feb:natura:00788

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