Bharat Chandar, Ali Hortacsu, John A List, Ian Muir, Jeffrey M Wooldridge
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Field experiments conducted with the village, city, state, region, or even country as the unit of randomization are becoming commonplace in the social sciences. While convenient, subsequent data analysis may be complicated by the constraint on the number of clusters in treatment and control. Through a battery of Monte Carlo simulations, we examine best practices for estimating unit-level treatment effects in cluster-randomized field experiments, particularly in settings that generate short panel data. In most settings we consider, unit-level estimation with unit fixed effects and cluster-level estimation weighted by the number of units per cluster tend to be robust to potentially problematic features in the data while giving greater statistical power. Using insights from our analysis, we evaluate the effect of a unique field experiment: a nationwide tipping field experiment across markets on the Uber app. Beyond the import of showing how tipping affects aggregate outcomes, we provide several insights on aspects of generating and analyzing cluster-randomized experimental data when there are constraints on the number of experimental units in treatment and control.
Bharat Chandar, Uri Gneezy, John A List, Ian Muir
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Even though social preferences affect nearly every facet of life, there exist many open questions on the economics of social preferences in markets. We leverage a unique opportunity to generate a large data set to inform the who's, what's, where's, and when's of social preferences through the lens of a nationwide tipping field experiment on the Uber platform. Our field experiment generates data from more than 40 million trips, allowing an exploration of social preferences in the ride sharing market using bid data. Combining experimental and natural variation in the data, we are able to establish tipping facts as well as provide insights into the underlying motives for tipping. Interestingly, even though tips are made privately, and without external social benefits or pressure, more than 15% of trips are tipped. Yet, nearly 60% of people never tip, and only 1% of people always tip. Overall, the demand-side explains much more of the observed tipping variation than the supply-side.
Omar Al-Ubaydli, John A List, Claire Mackevicius, Min Sok Lee, Dana L Suskind
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Policymakers are increasingly turning to insights gained from the experimental method as a means to inform large scale public policies. Critics view this increased usage as premature, pointing to the fact that many experimentally-tested programs fail to deliver their promise at scale. Under this view, the experimental approach drives too much public policy. Yet, if policymakers could be more confident that the original research findings would be delivered at scale, even the staunchest critics would carve out a larger role for experiments to inform policy. Leveraging the economic framework of Al-Ubaydli et al. (2019), we put forward 12 simple proposals, spanning researchers, policymakers, funders, and stakeholders, which together tackle the most vexing scalability threats. The framework highlights that only after we deepen our understanding of the scale up problem will we be on solid ground to argue that scientific experiments should hold a more prominent place in the policymaker's quiver.
Shubha Chakravarty, Mattias Lundberg, Plamen Nikolov, Juliane Zenker
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Lack of skills is arguably one of the most important determinants of high levels of unemployment and poverty. In response, policymakers often initiate vocational training programs in effort to enhance skill formation among the youth. Using a regression-discontinuity design, we examine a large youth training intervention in Nepal. We find, twelve months after the start of the training program, that the intervention generated an increase in non-farm employment of 10 percentage points (ITT estimates) and up to 31 percentage points for program compliers (LATE estimates). We also detect sizable gains in monthly earnings. Women who start self-employment activities inside their homes largely drive these impacts. We argue that low baseline educational levels and non-farm employment levels and Nepal's social and cultural norms towards women drive our large program impacts. Our results suggest that the program enables otherwise underemployed women to earn an income while staying at home - close to household errands and in line with the socio-cultural norms that prevent them from taking up employment outside the house.
John A List
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No abstract available
Daniel Hedblom, Brent R Hickman, John A List
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We develop theory and a tightly-linked field experiment to explore the supply side implications of corporate social responsibility (CSR). Our natural field experiment, in which we created our own firm and hired actual workers, generates a rich data set on worker behavior and responses to both pecuniary and CSR incentives. Making use of a novel identification framework, we use these data to estimate a structural principal-agent model. This approach permits us to compare and contrast treatment and selection effects of both CSR and financial incentives. Using data from more than 110 job seekers, we find strong evidence that when a firm advertises work as socially-oriented, it attracts employees who are more productive, produce higher quality work, and have more highly valued leisure time. In terms of enhancing the labor pool, for example, CSR increases the number of applicants by 25 percent, an impact comparable to the effect of a 36 percent increase in wages. We also find an economically important complementarity between CSR and wage offers, highlighting the import of using both to hire and motivate workers. Beyond lending insights into the supply side of CSR, our research design serves as a framework for causal inference on other forms of non-pecuniary incentives and amenities in the workplace, or any other domain more generally.
Erwin Bulte, John A List, Daan van Soest
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Social scientists have recently explored how framing of gains and losses affects productivity. We conducted a field experiment in peri-urban Uganda, and compared output levels across 1000 workers over isomorphic tasks and incentives, framed as either losses or gains. We find that loss aversion can be leveraged to increase the productivity of labor. The estimated welfare costs of using the loss contract are quite modest -- perhaps because the loss contract is viewed as a (soft) commitment device.
Laura Forastiere, Patrizia Lattarulo, Marco Mariani, Fabrizia Mealli, Laura Razzolini
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This paper revisits results from a field experiment conducted in Florence, Italy to study the effects of incentives offered to high school teens to motivate them to visit art museums and to identify best practices to transform this behavior into a long run cultural consumption. Students belonging to a first group of classes receive a flier with basic information and opening hours of a main museum in Florence, Palazzo Vecchio. Students in a second group of classes receive the flyer and a short presentation conducted by an art expert. Students in a third group of classes, in addition to the flyer and the presentation, receive also a nonfinancial reward in the form of extra-credit points towards their school grade. Taking a Principal Stratification approach, we explore the causal pathways that may lead students to increase their future museum attendance. Within the strata defined by compliance to the three forms of encouragement, we estimate associative and dissociative principal causal effects, that is, effects of the encouragement on the primary outcome, long run cultural consumption, that are associative or dissociative with respect to the effects of the encouragements on the Palazzo Vecchio visit. This analysis allows to interpret these effects as ascribable either to the encouragements, or to the museum visits, or to classroom spillovers. To face identification issues, estimation is performed with Bayesian inferential methods using hierarchical models to account for clustering. The main findings of the analysis are as follows: what seems to matter the most is the motivational incentive (i.e., the presentation), rather than the induced experience, i.e., the Palazzo Vecchio visit.
John A List, Annika List, Anya Samek
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Social scientists for years have documented the pervasiveness of discrimination in product and labor markets. While the literature has recently attempted to measure the nature of such discrimination, much less work has been done exploring the origins of discrimination. We make a modest step in this direction by reporting data from a field experiment attempting to measure discrimination amongst 3-5 years olds. Using a design that isolated discriminatory behaviors in economic games, we find that both White and Hispanic children send more resources to Black children than White children, whereas black children send equal amounts. This provides a first glimpse that suggests preferences amongst the young do not show similar patterns as preferences of adults.
John A List
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A summary of artefactual field experiments on fieldexperiments.com.
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