Partner selection into policy relevant field experiments

Michele Belot, Jonathan James

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper


This study investigates the issue of self-selection of stakeholders into participation and collaboration in policy-relevant experiments. We document and test the implications of self-selection in the context of randomised policy experiment we conducted in primary schools in the UK. The main questions we ask are (1) is there evidence of selection on key observable characteristics likely to matter for the outcome of interest and (2) does selection matter for the estimates of treatment effects. The experimental work consists in testing the effects of an intervention aimed at encouraging children to make more healthy choices at lunch. We recruited schools through local authorities and randomised schools across two incentive treatments and a control group. We document the selection taking place both at the level of local authorities and at the school level. Overall we find mild evidence of selection on key observables such as obesity levels and socio-economic characteristics. We find evidence of selection along indicators of involvement in healthy lifestyle programmes at the school level, but the magnitude is small. Moreover, We do not find significant differences in the treatment effects of the experiment between variables
which, albeit to a mild degree, are correlated with selection into the experiment. To our knowledge, this is the first study providing direct evidence on the magnitude of self-selection in field experiments.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series
Number of pages32
Publication statusPublished - 17 Dec 2013

Publication series

NameESE Discussion Papers


  • C93
  • I18
  • J13
  • selection
  • field experiments
  • randomised controlled trials
  • external validity


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