AØKK08410U Field Experiments
Recent years have seen an enormous increase and interest in research using experimental methods in the field to address questions across a broad range of topics in economics and management:
- Does Uber surge pricing work to steer demand?
- What is the impact of microloans on alleviating poverty?
- Do people eat more vegetarian food when it is on top of the menu?
- Do people work harder when you pay them more?
Rather than trying to find already available data (which is often not possible) and inferring causality with advanced econometric methods, field experiments randomly assign units of observations to treatment and control conditions to identify causal effects. While the idea is simple, the implementation brings other challenges.
The course will teach the students how to design, implement, and analyse field experiments – also known as randomized controlled trials (RCT). It will show the potential gains from using field experiments to test economic theory, make causal inference, and inform optimal policies, both in the public and private sector.
Students will acquire the tools to successfully conduct their own field experiments and learn to critically evaluate experimental findings from the academic literature. Students will also explore the many challenges to implementing RCTs in the field and the tools to address these issues in study design and analysis.
After completing the course the student is expected to be able to:
- Discuss state-of-the-art empirical research in experimental economics conducted in the field.
- Identify research or policy questions that can be answered using field experiments.
- Conduct power calculations for determening the correct sample size of an experiment.
- Analyze experimental data using econometric tools.
- Argue for optimal choice of outcome variables, sample size, clustering and randomization balancing.
- Plan and develop a field experiment design, both conceptually for testing economic theory and practically.
- Independently identify challenges that could arise when conducting an experiment and argue how to overcome them.
- Initiate and participate in discussions of the implications of experimental results for policy makers or managements in the public and private sector.
The course will be based on a book, lecture slides, research papers, policy documents and survey articles. A detailed syllabus with required readings will be provided in Absalon the beginning of the course.
The following books and articles give an overview of the type of literature that will be used in class:
- Main Book: Field Experiments Design, Analysis, and Interpretation by Alan Gerber and Don Green, ISBN: 978-0-393-97995-4
- Harrison, Glenn and John A. List. 2004. "Field Experiments." Journal of Economic Literature, XLII: 1013-1059.
- Athey, Susan, and Guido W. Imbens. "The econometrics of randomized experiments." Handbook of economic field experiments. Vol. 1. North-Holland, 2017. 73-140.
- Banerjee, Abhijit, Rukmini Banerji, James Berry, Esther Duflo, Harini Kannan, Shobhini Mukerji, Marc Shotland, and Michael Walton. 2017. "From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 31 (4): 73-102.
- Card, David, Stefano Della Vigna & Ulrike Malmendier. 2011. The Role of Theory in Experiments. Journal of Economic Perspectives 25(3): 39–62.
- List, John A., Sally Sadoff & Mathis Wagner (2011). So You Want to Run an Experiment, Now What? Some Simple Rules of Thumb for Optimal Experimental Design. Experimental Economics 14: 439–457.
- Pomeranz, D. (2011). Impact Evaluation Methods: A Brief Introduction to Randomized Evaluations in Comparison with Other Methods.
- Hauser, Oliver P., Elizabeth Linos, and Todd Rogers. "Innovation with field experiments: Studying organizational behaviors in actual organizations." Research in Organizational Behavior 37 (2017): 185-198.
The student will benefit from having attended a course on behavioral economics such as "Science of Behavior Change", the summer school "Behavioral Experimental Economics" or "The Psychology of Choice" at the study of Economics, University of Copenhagen, or equivalent before taking Field Experiments.
Student participation in all lectures will be expected and encouraged. An active discussion in class is essential for effective learning.
In case of a pandemic like Corona the teaching in this course may be changed to be taught either fully or partly online. For further information, see the course room on Absalon.
3 hours lectures ones a week from week 6 to 20 (except holidays).
The overall schema can be seen at KUnet:
MSc in Economics => "courses and teaching" => "Planning and overview" => "Your timetable"
KA i Økonomi => "Kurser og undervisning" => "Planlægning og overblik" => "Dit skema"
Timetable and venue:
To see the time and location of lectures and exercise classes please press the link under "Timetable"/"Se skema" at the right side of this page (F means Spring).
You can find the similar information in English at
-Select Department: “2200-Økonomisk Institut” (and wait for respond)
-Select Module:: “2200-F21; [Name of course]”
-Select Report Type: “List – Weekdays”
-Select Period: “Forår/Spring – Week 5-30”
Press: “ View Timetable”
Please be aware:
- That it is the students´s own responsibility to continuously update themselves about their studies, their teaching, their schedule, their exams etc. through the study pages, the course description, the Digital Exam portal, Absalon, KUnet, myUCPH app, the curriculum etc.
The students receive oral collective feedback during the lectures.
Each student receives individual oral feedback on the mandatory presentations.
For gæste- og enkelfagsstuderende: Tilmelding via Uddannelse i Økonomi.
- 7,5 ECTS
- Type of assessment
- Written assignment, 12 hoursindividual take-home exam. It is not allowed to collaborate on the assignment with anyone.
The exam assignment is in English and must be answered in English.
- Exam registration requirements
To qualify for the exam the student must no later than the given deadlines during the course:
- Have approved one mandatory presentation in which they describe and critically analyse field experiments conducted in the public and private sector, both in developed and developing countries.
- The presentations can be performed individual or in a group of maximal 2 students.
- All aids allowed
for the written assignment.
In case of an oral reexam, please go to the section "Reexam" for further information about allowed aids.
- Marking scale
- 7-point grading scale
- Censorship form
- No external censorship
for the written exam.
- Exam period
The regular exam takes place:
From 18 June 2021 at 10 AM to 10 PM.
In special cases, the exam can change to another day.
Further information about the exam will be available in Digital Exam from the middle of the semester.
The written reexam takes place:
From 27 August 2021 at 10 AM to 10 PM.
NOTE: If only few students register for the written re-exam, the exam might change to a 20 min. oral examination with 20 min. preparation time.
All written aids allowed during the preparation time.
Notes written during the preparation time are allowed at the oral examination.
If changed to oral exam, the date, time and place might change as well, which will be informed by KU e-mail.
In case of a pandemic situation the form of the exam and allowed aids may change as well.
More info in Digital Exam early August.
Criteria for exam assesment
Students are assessed on the extent to which they master the learning outcome for the course.
To receive the top grade, the student must with no or only a few minor weaknesses be able to demonstrate an excellent performance displaying a high level of command of all aspects of the relevant material and can make use of the knowledge, skills and competencies listed in the learning outcomes.