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Natural and Quasi- Experiments in Economics

  • Bruce D. Meyer

Using research designs patterned after randomized experiments, many recent economic studies examine outcome measures for treatment groups and comparison groups that are not randomly assigned. By using variation in explanatory variables generated by changes in state laws, government draft mechanisms, or other means, these studies obtain variation that is readily examined and is plausibly exogenous. This paper describes the advantages of these studies and suggests how they can be improved. It also provides aids in judging the validity of inferences they draw. Design complications such as multiple treatment and comparison groups and multiple pre- or post-intervention observations are advocated.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0170.

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Date of creation: Dec 1994
Date of revision:
Publication status: published as "Natural and Quasi-Experiments in Economics," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, vol 13, April 1995, pp 151-162.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0170
Note: LS
Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
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  1. Alan B. Krueger, 1990. "Workers' Compensation Insurance and the Duration of Workplace Injuries," NBER Working Papers 3253, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Aaron Yelowitz, 1995. "The Medicaid Notch, Labor Supply and Welfare Participation: Evidence from Eligibility Expansions," UCLA Economics Working Papers 738, UCLA Department of Economics.
  3. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1989. "Why Do World War II Veterans Earn More Than Nonveterans?," Working Papers 634, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  4. Joshua Angrist & Alan Krueger, 1990. "Does Compulsory School Attendance Affect Schooling and Earnings?," Working Papers 653, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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  8. Gruber, Jonathan, 1994. "The Incidence of Mandated Maternity Benefits," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 84(3), pages 622-41, June.
  9. Gary Solon, 1982. "Work Incentive Effects of Taxing Employment Benefits," Working Papers 529, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  10. Meyer, Bruce D & Viscusi, W Kip & Durbin, David L, 1995. "Workers' Compensation and Injury Duration: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 85(3), pages 322-40, June.
  11. Imbens, Guido & van der Klaauw, Wilbert, 1995. "Evaluating the Cost of Conscription in The Netherlands," Journal of Business & Economic Statistics, American Statistical Association, vol. 13(2), pages 207-15, April.
  12. David Card, 1990. "The impact of the Mariel boatlift on the Miami labor market," Industrial and Labor Relations Review, ILR Review, Cornell University, ILR School, vol. 43(2), pages 245-257, January.
  13. David Card & Alan Krueger, 1993. "Minimum Wages and Employment: A Case Study of the Fast Food Industry in New Jersey and Pennsylvania," Working Papers 694, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  14. Ariel Pakes & Richard Ericson, 1989. "Empirical Implications of Alternative Models of Firm Dynamics," NBER Working Papers 2893, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  15. Jason G. Cummins & Kevin A. Hassett & R. Glenn Hubbard, 1994. "A Reconsideration of Investment Behavior Using Tax Reforms as Natural Experiments," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 25(2), pages 1-74.
  16. Meyer, Bruce D, 1990. "Unemployment Insurance and Unemployment Spells," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 58(4), pages 757-82, July.
  17. Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Book chapters authored by Upjohn Institute researchers, in: Kenneth G. Dau-Schmidt & Seth D. Harris & Orley Lobel (ed.), Labor and Employment Law and Economics, volume 2, pages 480-516 W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research.
    • Stephen A. Woodbury, 2009. "Unemployment," Chapters, in: Labor and Employment Law and Economics, chapter 17 Edward Elgar.
  18. C. F. Manski, . "Learning about social programs from experiments with random assignment of treatments," Institute for Research on Poverty Discussion Papers 1061-95, University of Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty.
  19. Gruber, J. & Currie, J., 1994. "Saving Babies: The Efficacy and Cost of Recent Expansions of Medicaid Eligibility for Pregnant Women," Working papers 94-11, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
  20. Green, David A & Riddell, W Craig, 1993. "The Economic Effects of Unemployment Insurance in Canada: An Empirical Analysis of UI Disentitlement," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 11(1), pages S96-147, January.
  21. Rosenzweig, Mark R & Wolpin, Kenneth I, 1980. "Testing the Quantity-Quality Fertility Model: The Use of Twins as a Natural Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 48(1), pages 227-40, January.
  22. Ashenfelter, Orley C, 1978. "Estimating the Effect of Training Programs on Earnings," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 60(1), pages 47-57, February.
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  24. Manski, C.F., 1990. "The Selection Problem," Working papers 90-12, Wisconsin Madison - Social Systems.
  25. William P. Curington, 1994. "Compensation for Permanent Impairment and the Duration of Work Absence: Evidence from Four Natural Experiments," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 29(3), pages 888-910.
  26. Bruce D. Meyer, 1989. "A Quasi-Experimental Approach to the Effects of Unemployment Insurance," NBER Working Papers 3159, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  27. Besley, Timothy & Case, Anne, 2000. "Unnatural Experiments? Estimating the Incidence of Endogenous Policies," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 110(467), pages F672-94, November.
  28. Patricia M. Anderson & Bruce D. Meyer, 1994. "Unemployment Insurance Benefits and Takeup Rates," NBER Working Papers 4787, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Joshua Angrist, 1989. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," Working Papers 631, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
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