Pragmatic Field Experiments in Policy Research: The Case of a Pilot Program for Municipal Water Customers
52 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2018
Date Written: June 12, 2018
The pragmatic field experiment is a flexible methodology for assessing public policies and programs. This study illustrates the use of the pragmatic approach with a novel program, LIFT-UP, where municipalities offered financial counseling to public water utility customers who were behind on payments. Unlike a traditional randomized control study, the four municipalities in this study were encouraged to adapt treatment protocols, sample designs and outcome measures to reflect the local implementation context. This approach is internally valid within each site, and also offers externally valid implications for other municipalities that replicate the same broad principle-based mechanisms. While inconsistent with the traditional approach of randomized experiments, the pragmatic approach is practical and offers insights for policy analysis and program implementation.
Keywords: Randomized Control Trial, Field Experiment, Financial Capability
JEL Classification: D14, D78
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation