James Andreoni, Amalia Di Girolamo, John A List, Claire Mackevicius, Anya Samek
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We conduct experiments eliciting risk preferences with over 1,400 children and adolescents aged 3-15 years old. We complement our data with an assessment of cognitive and executive function skills. First, we find that adolescent girls display significantly greater risk aversion than adolescent boys. This pattern is not observed among young children, suggesting that the risk gap in risk preferences emerges in early adolescence. Second, we find that at all ages in our study, cognitive skills (specifically math ability) are positively associated with risk taking. Executive functions among children, and soft skills among adolescents, are negatively associated with risk taking. Third, we find that greater risk-tolerance is associated with higher likelihood of disciplinary referrals, which provides evidence that our task is equipped to measure a relevant behavioral outcome. For academics, our research provides a deeper understanding of the developmental origins of risk preferences and highlights the important role of cognitive and executive function skills to better understand the association between risk preferences and cognitive abilities over the studied age range.
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.
John A List
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No abstract available
Syon Bhanot, Jiyoung Han, Chaning Jang
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Restrictions like work requirements and constraints on voucher transfers are often used in social welfare systems, but little empirical evidence exists on their impact on wellbeing. We conducted a 10-day randomized experiment with 432 individuals living below the poverty line in the Kawangware settlement of Nairobi, kenya, testing two elements of social welfare design: workfare versus welfare and restricted versus unrestricted vouchers. Participants were randomly assigned to a "Work" condition, involving daily work for unrestricted vouchers, or one of two "Wait" conditions, involving daily waiting for vouchers that were either unrestricted or partially restricted to staple foods. We find that working improved psychological wellbeing relative to waiting, suggesting that means of implementing welfare programs may have important effects on individuals beyond the impact of monetary benefit alone. Furthermore, although restrictions were inframarginal, partially restricted vouchers crowded-in spending on staple foods, suggesting the existence of a "flypaper effect" in spending from restricted vouchers.
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.
Omar Al-Ubaydli, John A List
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This is a review of the literature of field experimental studies of markets. The main results covered by the review are as follows: (1) Generally speaking, markets organize the efficient exchange of commodities; (2) There are some behavioral anomalies that impede efficient exchange; (3) Many behavioral anomalies disappear when traders are experienced.
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.
Omar Al-Ubaydli, John A List, Dana L Suskind
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Policymakers are increasingly turning to insights gained from the experimental method as a means of informing public policies. Whether-and to what extent-insights from a research study scale to the level of the broader public is, in many situations, based on blind faith. This scale-up problem can lead to a vast waste of resources, a missed opportunity to improve people's lives, and a diminution in the public's trust in the scientific method's ability to contribute to policymaking. This study provides a theoretical lens to deepen our understanding of the science of how to use science. Through a simple model, we highlight three elements of the scale-up problem: (1) when does evidence become actionable (appropriate statistical inference); (2) properties of the population; and (3) properties of the situation. We argue that until these three areas are fully understood and recognized by researchers and policymakers, the threats to scalability will render any scaling exercise as particularly vulnerable. In this way, our work represents a challenge to empiricists to estimate the nature and extent of how important the various threats to scalability are in practice, and to implement those in their original research.
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.