About this eJournal
The randomized social experiment is a distinctive modern form of social research activity. Randomized Social Experiments makes available papers, articles, and research reports concerned with field tests of human behavior in which random assignment has been used for evaluation purposes. Social experiments began in the United States in the late 1960s, and have since been conducted on all the inhabited continents. Random assignment involves neither choice nor discretion. Whereas human subjects may or may not have the right to choose to participate in the experiment, they do not have the right to decide which group within the experiment they will join. Similarly, persons administering the policy intervention may restrict eligibility for participation in the experiment, but once a person is admitted, program staff cannot determine the group in which that subject is enrolled, except by using randomization. If implemented properly, the results of social experiments generally are internally valid, that is, they provide unbiased impact estimates for targeted people subject to different treatments at the particular time and place they were administered. The question of their external validity to larger populations, other places, or time periods will at all times be controversial.
Randomized Social Experiments succeeds the Digest of Social Experiments 3rd ed. (David Greenberg and Mark Shroder Washington D.C., Urban Institute Press, 2004), which contains brief summaries of 240 social experiments completed by April 2003.
Greenberg and Shroder believe that the methods they used to capture research activity in this growing field are no longer sufficient, and have asked SSRN to provide a new mechanism by which the community of scholars can learn about it. Randomized Social Experiments includes, but is not limited to, field studies of social programs in which the behavior of individuals, households, or (in rare instances) firms or organizations is examined subject to a protocol which includes
- Random assignment: Creation of at least two groups of human subjects who differ from one another by chance alone.
- Policy intervention: A set of actions ensuring that different incentives, opportunities, or constraints confront the members of each of the randomly assigned groups in their daily lives.
- Follow-up data collection: Measurement of various outcomes for members of each group.
- Evaluation: Application of statistical inference and informed professional judgment about the degree to which the policy interventions have caused differences in outcomes between the groups.
Randomized Social Experiments will also contain information on certain studies that would be excluded from the above definition because they do not involve social policy interventions, and therefore expands on the Digest. Specifically, we have added randomized studies of social exclusion (e.g., field tests of prevalence of discrimination in the market place) and methods of political mobilization, any type of personnel policy used by employers, and any type of marketing strategies used by either businesses or charities. In all cases, however, studies included will involve the observation of actual, not theoretical, human behavior in the field, not the laboratory.
Although the primary objective of this journal is to produce internally valid impact estimates, Randomized Social Experiments is not limited to only analyses of impacts. Rather, included are any papers, articles, or research reports that utilize data generated by social experiments, including analyses of the implementation and cost-benefits of the tested programs and policies. Also included are more general discussions of and research on social experimentation (e.g., methodological issues, the relative merits of social experiments and non-experimental approaches to estimating impacts, and syntheses of findings from social experiments).
Editors: David H. Greenberg, University of Maryland, Baltimore County, and Mark D. Shroder, Government of the United States of America
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Randomized Social Experiments eJournal
Professor of Economics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics
ROBERT F. BORUCH
University Trustee Chair Professor, Graduate School of Education and Statistics Department, Wharton School - University of Pennsylvania
GARY T BURTLESS
Senior Fellow in Economic Studies, The John C. and Nancy D. Whitehead Chair, Brookings Institution, Affiliated Researcher, Boston College - Retirement Research Center
Abdul Latif Jameel Professor of Poverty Alleviation and Development Economics, Director - Poverty Action Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics, Director, Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), Board member, Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)
DONALD P. GREEN
J.W. Burgess Professor of Political Science, Columbia University
JUDITH M. GUERON
Scholar in Residence and President Emerita, President Emerita, MDRC
Joseph Wharton Professor of Economics, Swarthmore College - Economics Department
ROBERT J. LALONDE
Professor of Public Policy, University of Chicago - Irving B. Harris Graduate School of Public Policy Studies, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics
JOHN A. LIST
Professor, University of Chicago - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), IZA Institute of Labor Economics
University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Social Policy, University of Pennsylvania
Krieger-Eisenhower Professor of Economics and Chief Editor American Economic Review, Johns Hopkins University - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
LARRY L. ORR
Associate, Johns Hopkins University, Consultant, Independent Consultant
JEFFREY ANDREW SMITH
Paul T. Heyne Distinguished Chair in Economics, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Professor, University of Michigan - Department of Economics, National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER), Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA)
Professor of Social Policy, Fellow of Green College, University of Oxford