Is Experimental Economics Living Up to Its Promise?

Alvin E. Roth (2010) “Is Experimental Economics Living Up to Its Promise?" Forthcoming in Fréchette, Guillaume and Andrew Schotter (editors) The Methods of Modern Experimental Economics, Oxford University Press. 提供的 [PDF]



The question that is the title of this essay already suggests that experimental economics has at least reached a sufficient state of maturity that we can try to take stock of its progress, and consider how that progress matches the anticipations we may have had for the field several decades ago, when it and we were younger. So it will help to begin by reconstructing what some of those anticipations were.

When I surveyed parts of experimental economics in Roth (1986-7,1988), I hoped that experimentation would facilitate and improve three kinds of work in economics, which I called Speaking to Theorists, Searching for Facts, and Whispering in the Ears of Princes. By speaking to theorists I meant testing the empirical scope and content of theories (including especially formal theories that might depend on factors hard to observe or control outside the lab), and in particular testing how well and on what domains their quantitative and qualitative predictions might serve as (at least) useful approximations. By searching for facts I meant exploring empirical regularities that may not have been predicted by existing theories, and might even contradict them, but whose contours, once they had begun to be mapped by experiments, could form the basis for new knowledge and new theories. And by whispering in the ears of princes I meant formulating reliable advice, as well as communicating, justifying, and defending it.

Of course, whether experimental economics is living up to its promise could also be a question about how experimental economists are doing at developing a body of experimental methods … (see 提供的 [PDF])


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