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.
John A List, Jeffrey A Livingston, Susanne Neckermann
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In the face of worryingly low performance on standardized test, offering students financial incentives linked to academic performance has been proposed as a potentially cost-effective way to support improvement. However, a large literature across disciplines finds that extrinsic incentives, once removed, may crowd out intrinsic motivation on subsequent, similar tasks. We conduct a field experiment where students, parents, and tutors are offered incentives designed to encourage student preparation for a high-stakes state test. The incentives reward performance on a separate low-stakes assessment designed to measure the same skills as the high-stakes test. Performance on the high-stakes test, however, is not incentivized. We find substantial treatment effects on the incented tests but no effect on the non-incented test; if anything, the incentives result in worse performance on the non-incented test. We also find evidence supporting the conclusion that the incentives crowd out intrinsic motivation to perform well on the non-incented test, but this effect is only temporary. One year later, students who had been in the incentives treatments perform better than those in the control on the same non-incented test.
John A List, Zacharias Maniadis, Fabio Tufano
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The sciences are in an era o fan alleged "credibility crisis'. In this study, we discuss the reproducibility of empirical results, focusing on economics research. By combining theory and empirical evidence, we discuss the import of replication studies, and whether they improve our confidence in novel findings. The theory sheds light on the importance of replications, even when replications are subject to bias. We then present a pilot meta-study of replication in experimental economics, a subfield serving as a positive benchmark for investigating the credibility of economics. Our meta-study highlights certain difficulties when applying meta-research (Ioannidis et al., 2015) and systematizing the economics literature.
Daniel J Benjamin, James O Berger, Magnus Johannesson, Brian A Nosek, E. J Wagenmakers, Richard Berk, Kenneth A Bollen, Bjorn Brembs, Lawrence Brown, Colin F Camerer, David Cesarini, Christopher D. Chambers, Merlise Clyde, Thomas D Cook, Paul De Boeck, Zoltan Dienes, Anna Dreber, Kenny Easwaran, Charles Efferson, Ernst Fehr, Fiona Fidler, Andy P. Field, Malcom Forster, Edward I. George, Tarun Ramadorai, Richard Gonzalez, Steven Goodman, Edwin Green, Donald P Green, Anthony Greenwald, Jarrod D. Hadfield, Larry V. Hedges, Leonhard Held, Teck Hau Ho, Herbert Hoijtink, James Holland Jones, Daniel J Hruschka, Kosuke Imai, Guido Imbens, John P.A. Ioannidis, Minjeong Jeon, Michael Kirchler, David Laibson , John A List, Roderick Little, Arthur Lupia, Edouard Machery, Scott E. Maxwell, Michael McCarthy, Don Moore, Stephen L. Morgan, Marcus Munafo, Shinichi Nakagawa, Brendan Nyhan, Timothy H Parker, Luis Pericchi, Marco Perugini, Jeff Rouder, Judith Rousseau, Victoria Savalei, Felix D. Schonbrodt, Thomas Sellke, Betsy Sinclair, Dustin Tingley, Trisha Van Zandt, Simine Vazire, Duncan J. Watts, Christopher Winship, Robert L. Wolpert, Yu Xie, Cristobal Young, Jonathan Zinman, Valen E. Johnson
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We propose to change the default P-value threshold for statistical significance for claims of new discoveries from 0.05 to 0.005.
Abhijit Banerjee, Angus Deaton, Esther Duflo
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What are the determinants of the health and of well-being? Income and wealth are clearly part of the story, but does access to health-care have a large independent effect, as the advocates of more investment in health-care, such as the World Health Organization's Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (2001)), have argued? This paper reports on a recent survey in a poor rural area of the state of Rajasthan in India intended to shed some light on this issue, where there was an attempt to use a set of interlocking surveys to collect data on health and economic status, as well as the public and private provision of health care.
John A List, Azeem M Shaikh, Yang Xu
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Empiricism in the sciences allows us to test theories, formulate optimal policies, and learn how the world works. In this manner, it is critical that our empirical work provides accurate conclusions about underlying data patterns. False positives represent an especially important problem, as vast public and private resources can be misguided if we base decisions on false discovery. This study explores one especially pernicious influence on false positives-multiple hypothesis testing (MHT). While MHT potentially affects all types of empirical work, we consider three common scenarios where MHT influences inference within experimental economics: jointly identifying treatment effects for a set of outcomes, estimating heterogenous treatment effects through subgroup analysis, and conducting hypothesis testing for multiple treatment conditions. Building upon the work of Romano and Wolf (2010), we present a correction procedure that incorporates the three scenarios, and illustrate the improvement in power by comparing our results with those obtained by the classic studies due to Bonferroni (1935) and Holm (1979). Importantly, under weak assumptions, our testing procedure asymptotically controls the familywise error rate - the probability of one false rejection - and is asymptotically balanced. We showcase our approach by revisiting the data reported in Karlan and List (2007), to deepen our understanding of why people give to charitable causes.
John A List, Anya Samek, Dana L Suskind
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Behavioral economics and field experiments within the social sciences have advanced well beyond academic curiosum. Governments around the globe as well as the most powerful firms in modern economies employ staffs of behavioralists and experimentalists to advance and test best practices. In this study, we combine behavioral economics with field experiments to reimagine a new model of early childhood education. Our approach has three distinct features. First, by focusing public policy dollars on prevention rather than remediation, we call for much earlier educational programs than currently conceived. Second, our approach has parents at the center of the education production function rather than at its periphery. Third, we advocate attacking the macro education problem using a public health methodology, rather than focusing on piecemeal advances.
Steven D Levitt, John A List, Susanne Neckermann, Sally Sadoff
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Research on behavioral economics has established the importance of factors such as reference dependent preferences, hyperbolic preferences, and the value placed on non-financial rewards. To date, these insights have had little impact on the way the educational system operates. Through a series of field experiments involving thousands of primary and secondary school students, we demonstrate the power of behavioral economics to influence educational performance. Several insights emerge. First, we find that incentives framed as losses have more robust effects than comparable incentives framed as gains. Second, we find that non-financial incentives are considerably more cost-effective than financial incentives for younger students, but were not effective with older students. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, consistent with hyperbolic discounting, all motivating power of the incentives vanishes when rewards are handed out with a delay. Since the rewards to educational investment virtually always come with a delay, our results suggest that the current set of incentives may lead to under-investment. For policymakers, our findings imply that in the absence of immediate incentives, many students put forth low effort on standardized tests, which may create biases in measures of student ability, teacher value added, school quality, and achievement gaps.
Uri Gneezy, John A List, Jeffrey A Livingston, Xiangdong Qin, Sally Sadoff, Yang Xu
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Tests measuring and comparing educational achievement are an important policy tool. We experimentally show that offering students extrinsic incentives to put forth effort on such achievement tests has differential effects across cultures. Offering incentives to U.S. students, who generally perform poorly on assessments, improved performance substantially. In contrast, Shanghai students, who are top performers on assessments, were not affected by incentives. Our findings suggest that in the absence of extrinsic incentives, ranking countries based on low-stakes assessments is problematic because test scores reflect differences in intrinsic motivation to perform well on the test itself, and not just differences in ability.
Pasquale Marcello Falcone, Enrica Imbert, Andrea Morone, Marcello Morone, Piergiuseppe Morone
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Food security, along with growing population and the associated environmental concerns, make food waste and loss a central topic in economic analysis. While food losses occur mostly at the production, postharvest and processing phases of the supply chain, food waste takes place mainly at the end of the chain and therefore concerns primarily the habits and behaviour patterns of retailers and consumers. Many solutions and practices have been proposed and oftentimes implemented in order to "keep food out of landfills", thus reducing food waste at the source. However, little attention has been paid to the possible sharing of consumer-side food surplus. In this context, food sharing could represent an effective way to tackle food waste at the consumers' level, with both environmental and economic potential positive effects. Currently, several initiatives and start-ups are being developed in the US and Europe, involving the collection and use of the excess of food from consumers and retailers and the promotion of collaborative consumption models (e.g. Foodsharing, Growington, Feastly, etc.). Nevertheless, there is still little empirical evidence testing the effectiveness of introducing sharing economy approaches to reduce food waste. This study seeks to fill this gap through a framed field experiment. We run two experimental treatments; in the control treatment students were asked to behave according to their regular food consumption habits, and in the food sharing treatment the same students were instructed to purchase food, cook and consume it collectively. Preliminary results showed that the adoption by households of food sharing practices do not automatically translate into food waste reduction. A number of factors (environmental and economic awareness, domestic skills and collaborative behaviors) might act as 'enablers' to make sharing practices effective.