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Englberger, Leon Johannes, 2022. Swedish Farmers’ Acceptance of RCTs and Economic Experiments. Second cycle, A2E. Uppsala: SLU, Dept. of Economics



A shift in the Common European Agriculture (CAP) towards agri-environmental payment schemes meant to incentivise the provision of environmental public goods calls for a diverse set of policy evaluation methods. Economic experiments such as RCTs can be efficient and cost-effective tools for improving and evaluating the effectiveness of these novel policies. However, the randomisation of benefits required in RCTs is controversial and might be ill-regarded among farmers. Despite their potential usefulness, the application of economic experiments remains limited in this context due to potentially low acceptability by farmers for being the subject of such studies. In an online survey with Swedish farmers, we explore the acceptability of two different hypothetical RCT scenarios and the general willingness to participate in an economic experiment using thought experiments. Our results suggest low acceptability of RCTs in which a group of farmers is excluded from receiving a payment. Moreover, we do not find support for an alternative RCT based on randomly varying the amount of payments in a scheme. Additionally, we find that farmers state a higher willingness to participate in economic experiments if aspects of fairness and transparency are highlighted while randomised or unequal payouts are rather ill-regarded. We also find some ambiguity between stated preferences and actual behaviour in regards to the willingness to participate in experimental studies after testing two modes of monetary incentivisation for participation in our study. We conclude that in the context of agricultural policy evaluation, RCTs should only be applied with great care and that future research should focus on finding ways to adapt RCTs in a way that would increase acceptability and that aspects of fairness, transparency, and a desire for equal payments should be considered in the recruitment for economic experiments.


Uppsatsen undersöker svenska lantbrukares åsikter om användningen av så kallade randomised controlled trials (RCTs) och andra ekonomiska experiment för utvärdering av nya politiska styrmedel inom lantbruket. RCT och andra ekonomiska experiment kan effektivt bidra till att förbättra miljöprogram som förser lantbrukare med betalningar för att engagera dem i miljövänliga jordbruksmetoder. Potentiella användningen av RCT inom lantbruket skulle innebära att slumpmässigt inkludera eller exkludera lantbrukare från betalningen av sådana program. För att kunna använda RCT inom lantbruket behövs det svar på frågan om acceptansen av såna forskningsmetoder. Ytterligare undersöker vi hur man kan uppmuntra fler lantbrukare att delta i ekonomiska experiment. Vi använder oss av två tankeexperiment som presenterades i sammanhang med en enkät som skickades ut via mejl till lantbrukare i Sverige. Uppsatsens resultat visar att acceptansen för RCT är låg. Bara 24% av lantbrukarna som deltog tycker det är ett acceptabelt sett att bedöma effektiviteten av miljöprogram inom lantbruket. Studien visar också att lantbrukare med större sannolikhet deltar i ekonomiska experiment om forskarna framhåller aspekter såsom rättvisa och transparens.

Main title:Swedish Farmers’ Acceptance of RCTs and Economic Experiments
Authors:Englberger, Leon Johannes
Supervisor:Rommel, Jens
Examiner:Hart, Robert
Series:Examensarbete / SLU, Institutionen för ekonomi
Volume/Sequential designation:1474
Year of Publication:2022
Level and depth descriptor:Second cycle, A2E
Student's programme affiliation:NM005 Environmental Economics and Management - Master's Programme 120 HEC
Supervising department:(NL, NJ) > Dept. of Economics
Keywords:Economics, agriculture, farmers’ opinion, agricultural policy, experimental economics, economic experiments, environmental policy, RCTs
Permanent URL:
Subject. Use of subject categories until 2023-04-30.:Agricultural economics and policies
Deposited On:24 Oct 2022 07:47
Metadata Last Modified:25 Oct 2022 01:00

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