Field Experimentation and the Study of Law and Policy (with Donald Green)
Field experiments are randomized experiments that take place under naturalistic conditions. This research method is experiencing rapid growth throughout the social sciences and especially in legal studies, where it is used to rigorously evaluate policies and programs. We begin by charting the growth of field experimentation in law and legal studies, describing the statistical properties of experiments and discussing the practical threats that may undermine experiments conducted in field settings. Next, we review the experimental research literature in a variety of domains: legal institutions, including the judiciary, legislature, and legal profession; incentives, especially as they apply to tax compliance and business law; and laws and obligations, including legal code, policy, and legal theory. We conclude by highlighting some of the challenges that the experimental literature must confront if it is to speak convincingly to issues of law and policy.
Importing Trust: A Field Experiment on Social Capital Levels in North Korean Refugees (not peer reviewed)
This paper’s theory posits that nations struggling from chronically low levels of social trust can in some cases, import trust through facilitating investment to domestic business from foreign companies. I hypothesize that this foreign investment to private companies legitimizes those private companies in the eyes of potential domestic investors, thereby increasing domestic fiscal relationships and eventually, general social trust. By testing this hypothesis, I hope to shed light on the debate concerning domestic market strategies, particularly concerning developing nations. If nations can if fact ‘import’ trust through opening their domestic financial sectors to the international market, this research should serve as a strong argument in favor of such policies. To test this theory, I conducted a survey experiment using North Korean refugees living in South Korea and citizens of the Republic of India. Subjects were randomly assigned a hypothetical investment opportunity and asked how much money they would be willing to invest in one of three businesses (one that had received no investment, domestic investment, or foreign investment). I find that the effect of foreign investment on North Korean refugees’ and Indians’ fiscal trust is either negligible or inconclusive; the results from the Indian sample indicate that investment treatments have no substantive effect and the North Korean sample was too small to yield any statistically significant results.