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Field Experiments in Labor Economics

  • John A. List
  • Imran Rasul

We overview the use of field experiments in labor economics. We showcase studies that highlight the central advantages of this methodology, which include: (i) using economic theory to design the null and alternative hypotheses; (ii) engineering exogenous variation in real world economic environments to establish causal relations and learning about the underlying mechanisms; and (iii) engaging in primary data collection and often working closely with practitioners. To highlight the potential for field experiments to inform issues in labor economics, we organize our discussion around the individual life cycle. We therefore consider field experiments related to the accumulation of human capital, the demand and supply of labor, behavior within firms, and close with a brief discussion of the nascent literature of field experiments related to household decision-making.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 16062.

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Date of creation: Jun 2010
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Publication status: published as Field Experiments in Labor Economics , joint with John A.List, Chapter 2 in Handbook of Labor Economics Volume 4a, O. Ashenfelter and D. Card (editors), Elsevier, 2011, pp104-228.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:16062
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