Master of Data Science for Public Policy   Master of International Affairs   Master of Public Policy  

Experiments for economics and policy design

Experiments have become a very popular method to address questions that are difficult to answer with observational data. They can be used in abstract settings to further our basic understanding of individual choice behavior (e.g. choice under risk, charitable giving, inter- temporal preferences), or behavior in strategic settings (e.g. market games, cooperation games, coordination games). At the same time, researchers increasingly work with governments, firms and NGOs to conduct experiments in the wild. The capacity to ask important causal questions in settings that are immediately relevant to the issue at hand has already made experiments popular also outside of academia, especially for policy design and day-to-day decision making in big firms.


In this course, we will study experiments from the perspective of academic economists conducting research with firms and organizations. We will critically evaluate the promises and challenges of the experimental method, for generating knowledge about human behavior and supporting policy decisions. We will discuss research as well as opinion articles on: the role of experiments in causal inference, the ethics of experimentation, how experiments address the empirical problems of internal and external validity, the methodology of designing and conducting experiments, the challenges of going from proof-of-concept studies to policies (th)at scale.


This course is for 2nd year MIA, MPP and MDS students only.