Over the past two decades, experimental economics has seen a large increase in the use of field experiments. Field experiments provide a useful bridge between the stylized environment of the laboratory and the context-rich environment of the outside world. Field experiments have now been used in a range of applications, including in development economics, charitable giving, labor economics, discrimination in markets, financial decision-making, education and health. When comparing the laboratory and field experiments, two themes emerge. The first is whether results from the experiment can be generalized, and the second is the level of control that the experimenter has. These themes represent a trade-off, since generalizability can sometimes be higher in the field, but this comes with some loss of control. This chapter provides an overview of field experiments, explores the advantages and disadvantages of the method, and provides a how-to guide for new researchers to the method.
John A. List and Anya Samek
This research review discusses the most critical and influential articles that utilise field experimentation to answer questions of economic importance. Field experiments have gained popularity in recent years, allowing researchers to infer causal effects of different market environments, policies and interventions. The articles analysed here provide insights into market functioning and individual and group decision-making across a wide range of domains, including marketplace transactions, labor decisions, charitable giving, financial planning, and education and health-related decision-making. This research review will be an important resource for students new to the methodology and applications of field experiments and academics alike.