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Designing Experiments to Measure Spillover Effects


  • Sarah Baird

    () (George Washington University and University of Otago)

  • J. Aislinn Bohren

    () (Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania)

  • Craig McIntosh

    () (University of California, San Diego)

  • Berk Ozler

    () (World Bank and University of Otago)


This paper formalizes the design of experiments intended specifically to study spillover effects. By first randomizing the intensity of treatment within clusters and then randomly assigning individual treatment conditional on this cluster-level intensity, a novel set of treatment effects can be identified. We develop a formal framework for consistent estimation of these effects, and provide explicit expressions for power calculations. We show that the power to detect average treatment effects declines precisely with the quantity that identifies the novel treatment effects. A demonstration of the technique is provided using a cash transfer program in Malawi.

Suggested Citation

  • Sarah Baird & J. Aislinn Bohren & Craig McIntosh & Berk Ozler, 2014. "Designing Experiments to Measure Spillover Effects," PIER Working Paper Archive 14-006, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  • Handle: RePEc:pen:papers:14-006

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Huber, Martin & Steinmayr, Andreas, 2017. "A Framework for Separating Individual Treatment Effects From Spillover, Interaction, and General Equilibrium Effects," Rationality and Competition Discussion Paper Series 21, CRC TRR 190 Rationality and Competition.
    2. Angelucci, Manuela & Prina, Silvia & Royer, Heather & Samek, Anya, 2015. "When Incentives Backfire: Spillover Effects in Food Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 9288, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    3. Gordon B. Dahl & Katrine V. L?ken & Magne Mogstad, 2014. "Peer Effects in Program Participation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 104(7), pages 2049-2074, July.
    4. Ainhoa Aparicio-Fenoll & Veruska Oppedisano, 2016. "Should I stay or should I go? Sibling effects in household formation," Review of Economics of the Household, Springer, vol. 14(4), pages 1007-1027, December.
    5. Todd D. Gerarden & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins, 2017. "Assessing the Energy-Efficiency Gap," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 55(4), pages 1486-1525, December.
    6. Carranza,Eliana & Meeks,Robyn, 2016. "Shedding light : understanding energy efficiency and electricity reliability," Policy Research Working Paper Series 7891, The World Bank.
    7. Manuela Angelucci & Vincenzo Di Maro, 2010. "Program Evaluation and Spillover Effects," SPD Working Papers 1003, Inter-American Development Bank, Office of Strategic Planning and Development Effectiveness (SPD).
    8. Jacopo Bonan & Pietro Battiston & Jaimie Bleck & Philippe LeMay-Boucher & Stefano Pareglio & Bassirou Sarr & Massimo Tavoni, 2017. "Social Interaction and Technology Adoption: Experimental Evidence from Improved Cookstoves in Mali," Working Papers 2017.47, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    9. Abhijit Banerjee & Sylvain Chassang & Erik Snowberg, 2016. "Decision Theoretic Approaches to Experiment Design and External Validity," NBER Working Papers 22167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Fadi Hassan & Paolo Lucchino, 2016. "Powering Education," Natural Field Experiments 00566, The Field Experiments Website.
    11. Athey, Susan & Eckles, Dean & Imbens, Guido W., 2015. "Exact P-Values for Network Interference," Research Papers 3351, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
    12. Todd D. Gerarden & Richard G. Newell & Robert N. Stavins & Robert C. Stowe, 2015. "An Assessment of the Energy-Efficiency Gap and Its Implications for Climate Change Policy," Working Papers 2015.28, Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei.
    13. RyokoSato & Yoshito Takasaki, 2016. "Peer Effects on Vaccination: Experimental Evidence from Rural Nigeria," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-1002, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
    14. Chong, Alberto & Cohen, Isabelle & Field, Erica & Nakasone, Eduardo & Torero, Maximo, 2014. "Are There Nutrient-based Poverty Traps? Evidence on Iron Deficiency and Schooling Attainment in Peru," MPRA Paper 61301, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    15. Baylis, Kathy & Ham, Andres, 2015. "How important is spatial correlation in randomized controlled trials?," 2015 AAEA & WAEA Joint Annual Meeting, July 26-28, San Francisco, California 205586, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association;Western Agricultural Economics Association.
    16. Julie Le Gallo & Yannick L'Horty & Pascale Petit, 2014. "Does subsidising young people to learn to drive promote social inclusion? Evidence from a large controlled experiment in France," TEPP Working Paper 2014-15, TEPP.
    17. Mueller, Valerie & Billings, Lucy & Mogues, Tewodaj & Peterman, Amber & Wineman, Ayala, 2015. "Filling the legal void? Experimental evidence from a community-based legal aid program for gender-equal land rights in Tanzania:," IFPRI discussion papers 1434, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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    19. Casaburi, Lorenzo & Reed, Tristan, 2017. "Competition in Agricultural Markets: An Experimental Approach," CEPR Discussion Papers 11985, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    20. Bobba, Matteo & Gignoux, Jérémie, 2016. "Neighborhood Effects in Integrated Social Policies," TSE Working Papers 16-662, Toulouse School of Economics (TSE), revised Aug 2016.
    21. Arthur Alik-Lagrange & Martin Ravallion, 2016. "Social Frictions to Knowledge Diffusion: Evidence from an Information Intervention," NBER Working Papers 21877, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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    More about this item


    Experimental Design; Networks; Cash Transfers;

    JEL classification:

    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • O22 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Development Planning and Policy - - - Project Analysis
    • I25 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Education and Economic Development

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