Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Experimental Economics and Surveys for Economists

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course



DESCRIPTION Experimental economics is the application of experimental methods to study economic questions. A fundamental aspect of this unit, is the design of experiments. This unit therefore provides students with an overview of the evolution, theory, methods, applications, findings and hands on experience of experimental methods in economics. Students will learn about the emergence of the subject through a survey of experimental analysis since the early innovators (30s to 60s), the next wave of experiments (60s to 90s) and the surge in interest since behavioural economics.

The study-unit shall cover: Experiment design, analysis and write up, including Causal Inference, Threats to Validity (Internal Threats, Sample Size, Power Calculations, Dealing with Human Subject (ethics, validity) Threats to Validity (External Threats), Clustering and Standard Errors, Randomization as an Instrumental Variable, Statistical Inference with Multiple Outcomes; Reporting data including descriptive, inferential, paramatric and non-Parametric statistics, tests; Writing up research: Why, How, What, So What?; Thematic areas include: Auctions, market behaviour, discrimination, incentives, intrinsic motivation, political economy, free riding and public goods; information cascades and herding behavior; group behaviour in market and non-market situations. The course includes 8 sessions of 3 hours each, of which 4 sessions will cover historical, theoretical and methodological insights, 2 sessions will be dedicated to reviewing peer-reviewed publications on economic experiments and 2 sessions will take the form of discussion of a practical intervention, by students, one dedicated to design, and the other to presentation.

Study-Unit Aims:

This study-unit aims to provide students with an overview of the evolution, theory, methods, applications, findings and hands on experience of experimental methods in Economics.

This will give students access to new sources of data and help them access and contribute to an enlarged set of economic propositions that can be validated, and new theoretical directions. The study-unit also seeks to introduce students to access experiments from industrial organisation to macroeconomics, from public goods, to finance and marketing.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- appraise the historical evolution of experimental methods to study economic questions;
- appreciate diverse conventions in experiment design;
- cite a range of studies that have assessed economic assumptions and theories;
- test the validity or otherwise of such economic theories and critical assumptions;
- access a body of experiments in the field, in laboratory settings, of individual or group behavior.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- design, conduct and critique experiments;
- intuit and critique key assumptions of economic theory;
- conduct research in the field in a range of major substantive topics;
- search for regularities and unanticipated irregularities and find theoretical meaning to contribute to the formulation of new theories;
- assist in the design of policy.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- Plott, CE,Smit HVL, eds. `Handbook of experimental economics results. Vol. 1. Elsevier, 2008.
- Cassar A and Friedman D, `Economics Lab: and intensive course in experimental economics`. Routledge, 2004.
- Kagel, JH, Roth AE, and Hey JD, `The handbook of experimental economics`. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Universtiy press, 1995.

Sample of Class Readings:

- Smith VL, `An Experimental Study of Competitive Market Behaviour`; Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 70, No. 2 (Apr., 1962), pp. 111-137.
- Sunder S. `Market for Information: Experimental Evidence`; Econometrica 60, no. 3 (May 1992): 667-695. Instructor CSSSI Statlab
- Gode, K and Sunder S, `Allocative Efficency of Markets, with Zero Intelligence Traders: Market as a Partial Substitute for Individual Rationality`. The Journal of Political Economy, Vol 101, No. 1 (February 1993), 119-137.
- Hamada K and Sunder S. ` Why Do Economists Favor Free Trade but Politicians Don’t`?
- Hayek FA, `The Use of Knowledge in Society`. The American Economic Review, Vol. 35, No. 4. (Sep., 1945),pp. 519-530.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite qualifications: B.Com (Hons) Economics

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture, Fieldwork and Seminar

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Oral and Written Exercises SEM2 Yes 50%
Fieldwork SEM2 Yes 50%
Important - Due to the COVID19 Pandemic the information regarding the method of assessment indicated above may have been changed. Further details have been provided by your F/I/C/S.

LECTURER/S Marie Briguglio (Co-ord.)
Jonathan Spiteri

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2019/0, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.