Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Experimental Economics
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Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Experimental Economics

Edited by Arthur Schram and Aljaž Ule

This volume offers a comprehensive review of experimental methods in economics. Its 21 chapters cover theoretical and practical issues such as incentives, theory and policy development, data analysis, recruitment, software and laboratory organization. The Handbook includes separate parts on procedures, field experiments and neuroeconomics, and provides the first methodological overview of replication studies and a novel set-valued equilibrium concept. As a whole, the combination of basic methods and current developments will aid both beginners and advanced experimental economists.
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Chapter 6: Advantages and disadvantages of field experiments

Anya Samek

Abstract

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.

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