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Experiments and Economic Development: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World

  • Juan Camilo Cardenas
  • Jeffrey P. Carpenter


Along with the traditional primitives of economic development (material preferences, technology, and endowments), there is a growing interest in exploring how psychological and sociological factores (e.g., bounded rationality, norms, or social preferences) also influence economic decisions, the evolution of institutions, and outcomes. Simultaneously, a vast literature has arisen arguing that economic experiments are important tools in identifying and quantifying the role of institutions, socialnorms and preferences on behavior and outcomes. Reflecting on our experience conducting experiments in the field over more than five years, we survey the growing literature at the intersection of these two research areas. Our review has four components. In the introduction we set the stage identifying a set of behavioral factors that seem to be central for understanding growth and economic development./ We then divide the existing literature in two piles: standard experiments conducted in the field and on how to econometrically identify sociological factors in experimental data. We conclude by suggesting topics for future research.

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Paper provided by Middlebury College, Department of Economics in its series Middlebury College Working Paper Series with number 0505.

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Length: 50 pages
Date of creation: May 2005
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0505
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