Department of Political Science
Harkness Hall 320
University of Rochester
Rochester, NY 14627
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|September 2017||A Theory of Experimenters|
with Abhijit Banerjee, Sylvain Chassang, Erik Snowberg: w23867
This paper proposes a decision-theoretic framework for experiment design. We model experimenters as ambiguity-averse decision-makers, who make trade-offs between subjective expected performance and robustness. This framework accounts for experimenters' preference for randomization, and clarifies the circumstances in which randomization is optimal: when the available sample size is large enough or robustness is an important concern. We illustrate the practical value of such a framework by studying the issue of rerandomization. Rerandomization creates a trade-off between subjective performance and robustness. However, robustness loss grows very slowly with the number of times one randomizes. This argues for rerandomizing in most environments.