Thursday, February 03, 2011

UCLA Graduates Launching Field Experiments

What is the right technique to use for testing social science hypotheses?  In the recent past, we celebrated "natural experiment" or using lags as instrumental variables to be able to make strong causal statements about X causing Y.  But now, we live in the age of "field experiments". I keep asking my wife how economic historians will run their field experiments (especially those working with data from the 19th century)?   The "good news" for UCLA is that our students are running their own field experiments.  Consider the case of Lila Rose who recently graduated from UCLA's History Department.  She has had the novel idea of running small field experiments at Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice places.  Would UCLA's IRB signoff on her experimental design?