ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Experimental Economics: A Survey

Over the past few decades, experimental methods have given economists access to new sources of data and enlarged the set of economic propositions that can be validated. This field has grown exponentially in the past few decades, but is still relatively new to the average Indian academic. The objective of this survey is to familiarise the Indian audience with some aspects of experimental economics. The survey attempts to bring to the interested reader a flavour of this field. The survey is presented in five separate articles after this introduction. The notes and references for all articles are at the end of the survey.

Emergence of Experimental Economics

The survey begins, in Part 1, with a presentation of the historical emergence of the subject and provides the methodological justification for economics experiments. In presenting the history of the field, Part I also discusses the forces that impelled or impeded its evolution.

Experiments in the Indian Context

Over the past few years, experimental economics has become increasingly visible in research activity in India.The concluding part of this survey offers a brief overview of experiments conducted in the Indian context. These have been largely field experiments.

Experiments on Individual Decision-Making

Part 2 of the survey looks at experimental results dealing with individual choice. The discussion compares the two dominant experimental methodologies that govern individual decision-making experiments in social science. It then discusses decision-making experiments under two main heads - the psychology-oriented experiments (or what has now morphed into behavioural economics) and experiments that test observed behaviour against theoretical benchmarks derived from neoclassical microeconomic theory. The last section provides an overview and looks ahead to the future of experiments in decision-making.

The Logic of Community Participation: Experimental Evidence from West Bengal

Social capital has been defined as a set of informal norms that promotes cooperation among the members of the community. Where there is repeated interaction, the members are able to get better information about the activities and intentions of other members in the community than outsiders, thereby promoting collective action or community participation supported by peer monitoring and social sanctions. In order to verify the logic of community participation, three sessions of a public goods classroom experiment were conducted with students and villagers at Kolkata and South 24 Parganas in West Bengal. The results show that even though the group contributions have in all cases been above 50% of the initial endowment, the contributions by the villagers who were members of the same community-based organisation were always higher than those by the students. This may be attributed to the fact that the villagers, being members of the same cbo have a common history of social interaction leading to better group cohesiveness.
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