Avner Ben-Ner, John A List, Louis Putterman, Anya Samek
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An active area of research within the social sciences concerns the underlying motivation for sharing resources and engaging in other pro-social actions. In this paper we ask: do parents model social preference behavior to children, and do children emulate this behavior? We develop a theoretical framework to examine this question, and conduct an experiment with 147 3 to 5 year old children and their parents, using dictator games to measure generosity. We find (1) evidence of parental teaching/modeling in the case of fathers and in that of parents of relatively generous children, and (2) an emulation effect such that children who initially share less than half of their endowment subsequently share more the more they see a parent or other adult share. We find little correlation between baseline sharing of children and the parents, with the possible exception of the oldest children.
Eszter Czibor, David Jimenez-Gomez, John A List
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What was once broadly viewed as an impossibility - learning from experimental data in economics - has now become commonplace. Governmental bodies, think tanks, and corporations around the world employ teams of experimental researchers to answer their most pressing questions. For their part, in the past two decades academics have begun to more actively partner with organizations to generate data via field experimentation. While this revolution in evidence-based approaches has served to deepen the economic science, recently a credibility crisis has caused even the most ardent experimental proponents to pause. This study takes a step back from the burgeoning experimental literature and introduces 12 actions that might help to alleviate this credibility crisis and raise experimental economics to an even higher level. In this way, we view our "12 action wish list" as discussion points to enrich the field.
Hansika Kapoor, Savita Kulkarni, Anirudh Tagat
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This study aims to investigate intra-household bargaining outcomes elicited in an artefactual field experiment design where participants completed a purchase task of real commodities. Married couples separately expressed their initial preferences over commodities. The bargaining process in the experiment was exogenously introduced by sharing information about partners' preferences in the treatment group. We hypothesized that the spouse with weaker bargaining position at the household level would consider the information of their partner's preferences while making own consumption decisions more compared to their partner. Therefore, they may deviate from their own preferences when purchasing commodities. More than 230 married couples from two villages in the Tamil Nadu state of India participated in the experiment. It was observed that information about partners' spending preferences resulted in reduced final allocation for female participants. However, the deviation was not significantly different from the original intention to spend. Therefore, information about partners' preferences may not be an effective medium to elicit bargaining power in the context of jointly-consumed household commodities. Subgroup analyses were performed to identify any heterogeneous treatment effects.
Glenn W Harrison, John A List
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Experimental economists are leaving the reservation. They are recruiting subjects in the field rather than in the classroom, using field goods rather than induced valuations, and using field context rather than abstract terminology in instructions. We argue that there is something methodologically fundamental behind this trend. Field experiments differ from laboratory experiments in many ways. Although it is tempting to view field experiments as simply less controlled variants of laboratory experiments, we argue that to do so would be to seriously mischaracterize them. What passes for "control" in laboratory experiments might in fact be precisely the opposite if it is artificial to the subject or context of the task. We propose six factors that can be used to determine the field context of an experiment: the nature of the subject pool, the nature of the information that the subjects bring to the task, the nature of the commodity, the nature of the task or trading rules applied, the nature of the stakes, and the environment that subjects operate in.
Hans P Binswanger
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Attitudes toward risk were measures in 240 households using two methods: an interview method eliciting certainty equivalents and an experimental gambling approach with real payoffs which, at their maximum, exceeded monthly incomes of unskilled laborers. The interview method is subject to interviewer bias and its results were totally inconsistent with the experimental measures of risk aversion. Experimental measures indicate that, at high payoff levels, virtually all individuals are moderately risk-averse with little variation according to personal characteristics. Wealth tends to reduce risk aversion slightly, but its effect is not statistically significant.
Glenn W Harrison, Morten I Lau, Elisabet E Rutstrom
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We estimate individual risk attitudes using controlled experiments in the field in Denmark. The experiments were carried out across Denmark using a representative sample of 253 people between 19 and 75 years of age. Risk attitudes are estimated for various individuals differentiated by socio-demographic characteristics. Our results indicate that the average Dane is risk averse, and that risk neutrality is an inappropriate assumption to apply. We also find that risk attitudes vary significantly with respect to several important socio-demographic variables such as age and education. However, we do not find any effect of sex on risk attitudes. Copyright The editors of the "Scandinavian Journal of Economics" 2007 .
Steven D Levitt, John A List
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A critical question facing experimental economists is whether behavior inside the laboratory is a good indicator of behavior outside the laboratory. To address that question, we build a model in which the choices that individuals make depend not just on financial implications, but also on the nature and extent of scrutiny by others, the particular context in which a decision is embedded, and the manner in which participants and tasks are selected. We present empirical evidence demonstrating the importance of these various factors. To the extent that lab and naturally occurring environments systematically differ on any of these dimensions, the results obtained inside and outside the lab need not correspond. Focusing on experiments designed to measure social preferences, we discuss the extent to which the existing laboratory results generalize to naturally-occurring markets. We summarize cases where the lab may understate the importance of social preferences as well as instances in which the lab might exaggerate their importance. We conclude by emphasizing the importance of interpreting laboratory and field data through the lens of theory.
Uri Gneezy, Kenneth Leonard, John A List
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This study uses a controlled experiment to explore whether there are gender differences in selecting into competitive environments across two distinct societies: the Maasai in Tanzania and the Khasi in India. One unique aspect of these societies is that the Maasai represent a textbook example of a patriarchal society whereas the Khasi are matrilineal. Similar to the extant evidence drawn from experiments executed in Western cultures, Maasai men opt to compete at roughly twice the rate as Maasai women. Interestingly, this result is reversed amongst the Khasi, where women choose the competitive environment more often than Khasi men, and even choose to compete weakly more often than Maasai men. We view these results as potentially providing insights into the underpinnings of the factors hypothesized to be determinants of the observed gender differences in selecting into competitive environments.
Glenn W Harrison, Morten I Lau, Elisabet E Rutstrom, Melonie B Williams
Cited by*: 219 Downloads*: 30

We estimate individual discount rates with respect to time streams of money using controlled laboratory experiments. These discount rates are elicited by means of field experiments involving real monetary rewards. The experiments were carried out across Denmark using a representative sample of 268 people between 19 and 75 years of age. Individual discount rates are estimated for various households differentiated by socio-demographic characteristics such as income and age. Our conclusions are that discount rates are constant over the 12-month to 3-year horizons used in these experiments, and that discount rates vary substantially with respect to several socio-demographic variables. Hence we conclude that it would be reasonable to assume constant discount rates for specific household types, but not the same rates across all households.
Ernst Fehr, John A List
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We examine experimentally how Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) respond to incentives and how they provide incentives in situations requiring trust and trustworthiness. As a control we compare the behavior of CEOs with the behavior of students. We find that CEOs are considerably more trusting and exhibit more trustworthiness than students--thus reaching substantially higher efficiency levels than students. Moreover, we find that, for CEOs as well as for students, incentives based on explicit threats to penalize shirking backfire by inducing less trustworthy behavior--giving rise to hidden costs of incentives. However, the availability of penalizing incentives also creates hidden returns: if a principal expresses trust by voluntarily refraining from implementing the punishment threat, the agent exhibits significantly more trustworthiness than if the punishment threat is not available. Thus trust seems to reinforce trustworthy behavior. Overall, trustworthiness is highest if the threat to punish is available but not used, while it is lowest if the threat to punish is used. Paradoxically, however, most CEOs and students use the punishment threat, although CEOs use it significantly less.