Cameron will be speaking on ‘Field Experiences for Developed Country Policy’ at the HM Treasury.
Field experiments in economics are relatively new, yet they have become one of the fastest growing and ‘fashionable’ methodologies in economics and the social sciences in recent years. There are several reasons for this. One is the increasing emphasis amongst policy makers on ‘evidence-based policy’: field experiments offer the prospect of determining what ‘works’, and what does not work. More generally, field experiments are useful in assessing causality, which is a requirement if hypotheses are to be properly tested.
This seminar provides an overview of papers in the current issue of the Oxford Review of Economic Policy, focused on the use of field experiments in economics, and with papers by the world leaders in the field. An overview paper (List & Metcalfe) describes and classifies field experiments; describes how they are being developed in a number of different areas; and sets out their advantages and limitations as a research method for economic and social sciences. Papers then examine the application of field experiments to topics that are important to policymakers, including human capital (Sadoff), environmental externalities (Price), tax evasion (Hallsworth), public goods provision (Jasper & Samek), consumer finance (Lusardi et al.), and labor supply (Levitt & Neckerman). A further paper focuses on how best to give the right sets of tools to policymakers and organizations in order to increase the use of field experiments (Dolan & Galizzi). The final paper takes a critical perspective, focusing on the limitations of field experimentation (Harrison).