Randomization in Field Experiments
Peter, N., & Soetevent, A. R. (2019). "Randomization in field experiments". In Handbook of Research Methods and Applications in Experimental Economics. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar Publishing. doi: https://doi.org/10.4337/9781788110563.00015
28 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2018 Last revised: 20 Jul 2020
Date Written: July 19, 2018
This chapter discusses several important topics related to randomization in field experiments. In the field, researchers face constraints in the design they can implement and/or the type of data that can be collected. The chapter looks at such constraints from the point of view of randomization. We discuss challenges posed by these constraints and possible ways to tackle them, illustrated with examples from articles published in top economics journals. We review how randomization can help to estimate treatment effects. We discuss how treatment spillovers that invalidate SUTVA can be addressed by choosing different levels of randomization. We pay attention to implementation and practical issues that matter in selecting the level of randomization, and to the use of covariates in the design and analysis stage. We also discuss how insufficient control of the assignment mechanism or partial treatment compliance may lead to failures, and how such failures can be prevented.
Keywords: field experiments, randomization, causality, treatment spillovers
JEL Classification: C93, J0, C10
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation