May 2010

IZA DP No. 4941: Lab Labor: What Can Labor Economists Learn from the Lab?

published in: O. Ashenfelter and D. Card (eds.), Handbook of Labor Economics, Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2011

This paper surveys the contributions of laboratory experiments to labor economics. We begin with a discussion of methodological issues: why (and when) is a lab experiment the best approach; how do laboratory experiments compare to field experiments; and what are the main design issues? We then summarize the substantive contributions of laboratory experiments to our understanding of principal-agent interactions, social preferences, union-firm bargaining, arbitration, gender differentials, discrimination, job search, and labor markets more generally.