Field Experiments
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Field Experiments

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.
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Recommended Readings

John A. List and Anya Samek

Preface to recommended readings

The recommended readings listed below represent the editors’ judicious selection of the most seminal and transformative journal articles and book chapters within this particular field of study.

To facilitate further research each is fully referenced and includes a hyperlink to the full text (where the user’s institution holds it) in the library catalogue.

A print edition of this resource, which includes the full text of the review article and of the recommended readings, is available as a 2-volume print work. To see if the print edition is available in your library, use the ’Find This Book In Your Library’ button at the top of this page. Note that the button only appears if your library has provided details of their link resolver.

PART I THE EXPERIMENTALIST MEETS THE MARKET

  • 1.

    John A. List and David Lucking-Reiley (2000), ‘Demand Reduction in Multiunit Auctions: Evidence from a Sportscard Field Experiment’, American Economic Review, 90 (4), September, 96172

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  • 2.

    John A. List (2004), ‘Testing Neoclassical Competitive Theory in Multilateral Decentralized Markets’, Journal of Political Economy, 112 (5), 113156

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  • 3.

    Paul Resnick, Richard Zeckhauser, John Swanson and Kate Lockwood (2006), ‘The Value of Reputation on eBay: A Controlled Experiment’, Experimental Economics, 9 (2), June, 79101

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  • 4.

    Suresh de Mel, David McKenzie and Christopher Woodruff (2008), ‘Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence From a Field Experiment’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, CXXIII (4), November, 132972

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  • 5.

    Dean Karlan and Jonathan Zinman (2009), ‘Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment’, Econometrica, 77 (6), November, 19932008

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  • 6.

    Yan Chen, Teck-Hua Ho and Yong-Mi Kim (2010), ‘Knowledge Market Design: A Field Experiment at Google Answers’, Journal of Public Economic Theory, 12 (4), August, 64164

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PART II THE EXPERIMENTALIST GOES TO THE FIRM

  • 7.

    Ernst Fehr and John A. List (2004), ‘The Hidden Costs and Returns of Incentives – Trust and Trustworthiness among CEOs’, Journal of the European Economic Association, 2 (5), September, 74371

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  • 8.

    Uri Gneezy and John A. List (2006), ‘Putting Behavioral Economics to Work: Testing for Gift Exchange in Labor Markets Using Field Experiments’, Econometrica, 74 (5), September, 136584

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  • 9.

    Oriana Bandiera, Iwan Barankay and Imran Rasul (2007), ‘Incentives for Managers and Inequality Among Workers: Evidence From a Firm-Level Experiment’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122 (2), May, 72973

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  • 10.

    Ernst Fehr and Lorenz Goette (2007), ‘Do Workers Work More if Wages Are High? Evidence From a Randomized Field Experiment’, American Economic Review, 97 (1), March, 298317

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  • 11.

    Tanjim Hossain and John A. List (2012), ‘The Behavioralist Visits the Factory: Increasing Productivity Using Simple Framing Manipulations’, Management Science, 58 (12), December, 215167

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PART III THE EXPERIMENTALIST WORKS FOR CHARITY

  • 12.

    John A. List and David Lucking-Reiley (2002), ‘The Effects of Seed Money and Refunds on Charitable Giving: Experimental Evidence from a University Capital Campaign’, Journal of Political Economy, 110 (1), February, 21533

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  • 13.

    Adriaan R. Soetevent (2005), ‘Anonymity in Giving in a Natural Context – A Field Experiment in 30 Churches’, Journal of Public Economics, 89 (11–12), December, 230123

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  • 14.

    Craig E. Landry, Andreas Lange, John A. List, Michael K. Price and Nicholas G. Rupp (2006), ‘Toward an Understanding of the Economics of Charity: Evidence From a Field Experiment’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121 (2), May, 74782

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  • 15.

    Armin Falk (2007), ‘Gift Exchange in the Field’, Econometrica, 75 (5), September, 150111

  • 16.

    Jen Shang and Rachel Croson (2009), ‘A Field Experiment in Charitable Contribution: The Impact of Social Information on the Voluntary Provision of Public Goods’, Economic Journal, 119 (540), October, 142239

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  • 17.

    Yan Chen, F. Maxwell Harper, Joseph Konstan and Sherry Xin Li (2010), ‘Social Comparisons and Contributions to Online Communities: A Field Experiment on MovieLens’, American Economic Review, 100 (4), September, 135898

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  • 18.

    Ayelet Gneezy, Uri Gneezy, Leif D. Nelson and Amber Brown (2010), ‘Shared Social Responsibility: A Field Experiment in Pay-What-You-Want Pricing and Charitable Giving’, Science, 329 (5989), July, 3257

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  • 19.

    Steffen Huck and Imran Rasul (2011), ‘Matched Fundraising: Evidence From a Natural Field Experiment’, Journal of Public Economics, 95 (5–6), June, 35162

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  • 20.

    Stefano DellaVigna, John A. List and Ulrike Malmendier (2012), ‘Testing for Altruism and Social Pressure in Charitable Giving’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 127 (1), February, 156

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PART IV THE EXPERIMENTALIST BALANCES A BUDGET

  • 21.

    Esther Duflo, William Gale, Jeffrey Liebman, Peter Orszag and Emmanuel Saez (2006), ‘Saving Incentives for Low- and Middle-Income Families: Evidence From a Field Experiment with H&R Block’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 121 (4), November, 131146

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  • 22.

    Marianne Bertrand, Dean Karlan, Sendhil Mullainathan, Eldar Shafir and Jonathan Zinman (2010), ‘What’s Advertising Content Worth? Evidence from a Consumer Credit Marketing Field Experiment’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 125 (1), February, 263306

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  • 23.

    Tomomi Tanaka, Colin F. Camerer and Quang Nguyen (2010), ‘Risk and Time Preferences: Linking Experimental and Household Survey Data from Vietnam’, American Economic Review, 100 (1), March, 55771

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  • 24.

    Stephan Meier and Charles Sprenger (2010), ‘Present-Biased Preferences and Credit Card Borrowing’, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2 (1), January, 193210

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  • 25.

    Michael Hallsworth, John A. List, Robert D. Metcalfe and Ivo Vlaev (2017), ‘The Behavioralist as Tax Collector: Using Natural Field Experiments to Enhance Tax Compliance’, Journal of Public Economics, 148, April, 1431

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PART V THE EXPERIMENTALIST AS ENVIRONMENTALIST

  • 26.

    John A. List and Jason F. Shogren (1998), ‘Calibration of the Difference Between Actual and Hypothetical Valuations in a Field Experiment’, Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, 37 (2), October, 193205

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  • 27.

    Jan Stoop, Charles N. Noussair and Daan van Soest (2012), ‘From the Lab to the Field: Cooperation Among Fishermen’, Journal of Political Economy, 120 (6), December, 102756

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PART VI THE EXPERIMENTALIST GOES TO SCHOOL

  • 28.

    Abhijit V. Banerjee, Shawn Cole, Esther Duflo and Leigh Linden (2007), ‘Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 122 (3), August, 123564

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  • 29.

    Thomas S. Dee (2004), ‘Teachers, Race, and Student Achievement in a Randomized Experiment’, Review of Economics and Statistics, 86 (1), February, 195210

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  • 30.

    Joshua Angrist and Victor Lavy (2009), ‘The Effects of High Stakes High School Achievement Awards: Evidence from a Randomized Trial’, American Economic Review, 99 (4), September, 1384414

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  • 31.

    Roland G. Fryer Jr. (2011), ‘Financial Incentives and Student Achievement: Evidence from Randomized Trials’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 126 (4), November, 175598

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  • 32.

    Marco Castillo, Paul J. Ferraro, Jeffrey L. Jordan and Ragan Petrie (2011), ‘The Today and Tomorrow of Kids: Time Preferences and Educational Outcomes of Children’, Journal of Public Economics, 95 (11–12), December, 137785

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  • 33.

    Lori Beaman, Esther Duflo, Rohini Pande and Petia Topalova (2012), ‘Female Leadership Raises Aspirations and Educational Attainment for Girls: A Policy Experiment in India’, Science, 335 (6068), February, 5826

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  • 34.

    Steven D. Levitt, John A. List, Susanne Neckermann and Sally Sadoff (2016), ‘The Behavioralist Goes to School: Leveraging Behavioural Economics to Improve Educational Performance’, American Economic Journal, 8 (4), November, 183219

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PART VII THE EXPERIMENTALIST AS HEALTH COACH

  • 35.

    Gary Charness and Uri Gneezy (2009), ‘Incentives to Exercise’, Econometrica, 77 (3), May, 90931

  • 36.

    Martina Björkman and Jakob Svensson (2009), ‘Power to the People: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment on Community-Based Monitoring in Uganda’, Quarterly Journal of Economics, 124 (2), May, 73569

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  • 37.

    Jessica Wisdom, Julie S. Downs and George Loewenstein (2010), ‘Promoting Healthy Choices: Information versus Convenience’, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 2 (2), April, 16478

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  • 38.

    Glenn W. Harrison, Morten I. Lau and E. Elisabet Rutström (2010), ‘Individual Discount Rates and Smoking: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Denmark’, Journal of Health Economics, 29 (5), September, 70817

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  • 39.

    John A. List and Anya Savikhin Samek (2015), ‘The Behavioralist as Nutritionist: Leveraging Behavioral Economics to Improve Child Food Choice and Consumption’, Journal of Health Economics, 39, January, 13546

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