Mechanism Experiments and Policy Evaluations

40 Pages Posted: 23 May 2011  

Jens Ludwig

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Jeffrey R. Kling

Government of the United States of America - Congressional Budget Office (CBO); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Sendhil Mullainathan

Harvard University - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: May 2011

Abstract

Randomized controlled trials are increasingly used to evaluate policies. How can we make these experiments as useful as possible for policy purposes? We argue greater use should be made of experiments that identify behavioral mechanisms that are central to clearly specified policy questions, what we call "mechanism experiments." These types of experiments can be of great policy value even if the intervention that is tested (or its setting) does not correspond exactly to any realistic policy option.

Suggested Citation

Ludwig, Jens and Kling, Jeffrey R. and Mullainathan, Sendhil, Mechanism Experiments and Policy Evaluations (May 2011). NBER Working Paper No. w17062. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1848578

Jens Ludwig (Contact Author)

Georgetown University - Public Policy Institute (GPPI) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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Jeffrey Kling

Government of the United States of America - Congressional Budget Office (CBO) ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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Sendhil Mullainathan

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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