Randomized Social Experiments eJournal
Editors: David H. Greenberg and Mark D. Shroder
University of Maryland, Baltimore County and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

This eJournal distributes working and accepted paper abstracts focused on the randomized social experiment as a distinctive modern form of social research activity. Randomized Social Experiments makes available papers, articles, and research reports concerned with field tests of human behavior in which random assignment has been used for evaluation purposes. Social experiments began in the United States in the late 1960s, and have since been conducted on all the inhabited continents. Random assignment involves neither choice nor discretion. Whereas human subjects may or may not have the right to choose to participate in the experiment, they do not have the right to decide which group within the experiment they will join. Similarly, persons administering the policy intervention may restrict eligibility for participation in the experiment, but once a person is admitted, program staff cannot determine the group in which that subject is enrolled, except by using randomization. If implemented properly, the results of social experiments generally are internally valid, that is, they provide unbiased impact estimates for targeted people subject to different treatments at the particular time and place they were administered. The question of their external validity to larger populations, other places, or time periods will at all times be controversial.

Randomized Social Experiments succeeds the Digest of Social Experiments 3rd ed. (David Greenberg and Mark Shroder Washington D.C., Urban Institute Press, 2004), which contains brief summaries of 240 social experiments completed by April 2003.

Greenberg and Shroder believe that the methods they used to capture research activity in this growing field are no longer sufficient, and have asked SSRN to provide a new mechanism by which the community of scholars can learn about it. Randomized Social Experiments includes, but is not limited to, field studies of social programs in which the behavior of individuals, households, or (in rare instances) firms or organizations is examined subject to a protocol which includes

Randomized Social Experiments will also contain information on certain studies that would be excluded from the above definition because they do not involve social policy interventions, and therefore expands on the Digest. Specifically, we have added randomized studies of social exclusion (e.g., field tests of prevalence of discrimination in the market place) and methods of political mobilization, any type of personnel policy used by employers, and any type of marketing strategies used by either businesses or charities. In all cases, however, studies included will involve the observation of actual, not theoretical, human behavior in the field, not the laboratory.

Although the primary objective of this eJournal is to produce internally valid impact estimates, Randomized Social Experiments is not limited to only analyses of impacts. Rather, included are any papers, articles, or research reports that utilize data generated by social experiments, including analyses of the implementation and cost-benefits of the tested programs and policies. Also included are more general discussions of and research on social experimentation (e.g., methodological issues, the relative merits of social experiments and non-experimental approaches to estimating impacts, and syntheses of findings from social experiments).

Click here to Browse our Electronic Library to view our archives of abstracts and associated full text papers published in this journal.

Sample Issue

Randomized Social Experiments eJournal Advisory Board
Click on the individual's name below to view the editor or advisory board member's author home page.

Editors: David H. Greenberg and Mark D. Shroder
University of Maryland, Baltimore County and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development


Joshua D. Angrist

Robert F. Boruch

Gary Burtless

Esther Duflo

Donald P. Green

Judith M. Gueron

Robinson Hollister

Robert LaLonde

John A. List

Rebecca Maynard

Robert A. Moffitt

Larry L. Orr

Jeffrey A. Smith

Robert Walker