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

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  • Juan Camilo Cardenas
  • Jeffrey P. Carpenter

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Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Juan Camilo Cardenas & Jeffrey P. Carpenter, 2005. "Experiments and Economic Development: Lessons from Field Labs in the Developing World," Middlebury College Working Paper Series 0505, Middlebury College, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:mdl:mdlpap:0505
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    2. Vivi Alatas & Lisa Cameron & Ananish Chaudhuri & Nisvan Erkal & Lata Gangadharan, 2006. "Gender and Corruption: Insights from an Experimental Analysis," Department of Economics - Working Papers Series 974, The University of Melbourne.
    3. René Fahr & Bernd Irlenbusch, 2008. "Identifying personality traits to enhance trust between organisations: an experimental approach," Managerial and Decision Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 29(6), pages 469-487.
    4. Gurven, Michael & Zanolini, Arianna & Schniter, Eric, 2008. "Culture sometimes matters: Intra-cultural variation in pro-social behavior among Tsimane Amerindians," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 67(3-4), pages 587-607, September.
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    8. Galarza, Francisco, 2009. "Risk, Credit, and Insurance in Peru: Field Experimental Evidence," MPRA Paper 17833, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    9. Gatiso, Tsegaye T. & Vollan, Björn & Nuppenau, Ernst-August, 2015. "Resource scarcity and democratic elections in commons dilemmas: An experiment on forest use in Ethiopia," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 114(C), pages 199-207.
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    experimental economics; behavioral economics; institutions; social preferences; poverty; development;

    JEL classification:

    • C9 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments
    • O1 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development

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