John List, Omar Al-Ubaydli, 17 January 2014

Lab and field experiments help us understand human behaviour as they increase our confidence in causal effects in regard to different economic problems. This column highlights the relevance of experimental data and discusses the value of lab in comparison to field experiments. While lab experiments are the only applicable way-to-go in a number of situations, they tend to inflate scrutiny. This could artificially modify behaviour, and would potentially threaten the causal interpretation of the estimates. The debate about lab versus field experiments is far from settled. However, what economists do agree about is that to obtain convincing causal effects relating to human behaviour, a joint consideration of a number of methods would be superior to using any single one in isolation.

Karin Monstad, Carol Propper, Kjell G. Salvanes, 06 May 2008

Low fertility has become an issue of public concern as low population growth and higher dependency ratios due to aging populations threaten to strangle economic growth. The authors of CEPR DP6816 use an educational reform in Norway as an instrument to establish whether the relationship between female education and fertility decisions is causal.

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