Pragmatic Field Experiments in Policy Research: The Case of a Pilot Program for Municipal Water Customers

52 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2018

See all articles by Stephanie Moulton

Stephanie Moulton

Ohio State University- John Glenn College of Public Affairs

J. Michael Collins

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Olga Kondratjeva

John Glenn College of Public Affairs

Date Written: June 12, 2018

Abstract

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

Moulton, Stephanie and Collins, J. Michael and Kondratjeva, Olga, Pragmatic Field Experiments in Policy Research: The Case of a Pilot Program for Municipal Water Customers (June 12, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3194814 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3194814

Stephanie Moulton (Contact Author)

Ohio State University- John Glenn College of Public Affairs ( email )

110 Page Hall
1810 College Road
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

J. Michael Collins

University of Wisconsin - Madison ( email )

United States
6086160369 (Phone)

Olga Kondratjeva

John Glenn College of Public Affairs ( email )

110 Page Hall
1810 College Road
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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