NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
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Dana Suskind

Department of Surgery
University of Chicago Medicine
5841 South Maryland Avenue
MC 1035
Chicago, IL 60637

E-Mail: EmailAddress: hidden: you can email any NBER-related person as first underscore last at nber dot org
Institutional Affiliation: U Chicago

NBER Working Papers and Publications

May 2019The Science of Using Science: Towards an Understanding of the Threats to Scaling Experiments
with Omar Al-Ubaydli, John A. List: w25848
Policymakers are increasingly turning to insights gained from the experimental method as a means of informing public policies. Whether—and to what extent—insights from a research study scale to the level of the broader public is, in many situations, based on blind faith. This scale-up problem can lead to a vast waste of resources, a missed opportunity to improve people’s lives, and a diminution in the public’s trust in the scientific method’s ability to contribute to policymaking. This study provides a theoretical lens to deepen our understanding of the science of how to use science. Through a simple model, we highlight three elements of the scale-up problem: (1) when does evidence become actionable (appropriate statistical inference); (2) properties of the population; and (3) properties o...
 
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