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Field experiments in labor economics

Economics, evidence, methods, RCT

Abstract

We overview the use of field experiments in labor economics. We showcase studies that highlight the central advantages of this methodology, which include: (i) using economic theory to design the null and alternative hypotheses; (ii) engineering exogenous variation in real world economic environments to establish causal relations and learn about the underlying mechanisms; and (iii) engaging in primary data collection and often working closely with practitioners. To highlight the potential for field experiments to inform issues in labor economics, we organize our discussion around the individual life cycle. We therefore consider field experiments related to the accumulation of human capital, the demand and supply of labor, and behavior within firms, and close with a brief discussion of the nascent literature of field experiments related to household decision making.

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