ERAE special issue

This special issue coordinated by REECAP has been published by the European Review of Agricultural Economics

Enriching the CAP evaluation toolbox with experimental approaches

Vol 46 Number 3 July 2019


European Review of Agricultural Economics 

special issue

“Enriching the CAP evaluation toolbox with experimental approaches”

Guest editors: Sophie Thoyer and Raphaële Préget

Despite the success of experimental approaches for policy advice in public economics, their mobilization in agricultural policy design and evaluation has remained surprisingly limited. Ex-ante and ex-post evaluations of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are a telling example: they are mostly based on economic modelling, statistical analysis, and case studies. Yet, the CAP has changed considerably, requiring adaptations of its evaluation toolbox (Colen et al, 2015, 20161). Policy-makers are increasingly accountable for CAP spending. Governments and taxpayers want to be reassured that the CAP yields effective results. More attention is granted to cause-and-effect relationships of policies and to the additionality of their effects. Building an experimental situation or identifying a quasi-experimental situation for which outcomes can be compared to a proper counterfactual is a way to demonstrate and measure impact. Moreover, behavioural analysis often making use of economic experiments has highlighted the need to better understand the decision context beyond the simple profit-maximization assumption, in order to predict economic agents' responses to different policy instruments and to design more efficient and cost-effective policies. Debates on the future of the CAP for the 2021-2028 period have already started. The emphasis is on more evidence-based policy recommendations.

Economic experiments (discrete choice experiments, laboratory experiments, field experiments and randomized controlled trials) are at the forefront of these recent methodological developments. Their main common feature is to rely on data that is generated in a controlled setting, with a randomized assignment of participants to treatment and control groups. In contrast to “naturally-occurring” observational data, experimental data is obtained through a rigorous experimental protocol. This allows for a clearer identification of impact and causality, and for results that are potentially replicable in different contexts or with different types of participants.

The aim of this special issue is to present the work of a community of researchers willing to find path-breaking ways of improving the evaluation of CAP proposals thanks to experimental approaches, so as to strengthen a fruitful ongoing debate with European policy-makers on the interest and validity of experimental approaches to policy evaluation.

We therefore wish to gather convincing research work illustrating how experimental approaches can inform the policy-maker on the feasibility and efficiency of agricultural policy measures, focusing mostly on CAP-related issues. Such contributions can be focused on a specific dimension of policy but must demonstrate that their results have both internal and external validity and can provide useful guidance for the design of CAP policy instruments. We would like to receive contributions showcasing the value of experimental approaches and the complementarity between them and other evaluation tools, in one or several of the following areas:

We also welcome contributions addressing the methodological challenges related to the use of experimental approaches in the context of the agri-food sector in Europe: for example the ethical concerns relating to the set-up of randomized control trials (RCTs) in Europe, the control of sampling and assignment biases when organizing field experiments with farmers, how to decide on the right balance between internal and external validity of chosen experimental protocols in the context of European agriculture, etc.

All papers must be original and not simultaneously submitted to another journal. We welcome standard research papers as well as meta-analyses, and review papers. Research papers with null results are also welcome. All submissions will be examined by a review committee led by the ERAE editorial board. They will be evaluated both by an academic reviewer specialist in the methodology used, and by a policy-maker or policy-design specialist. To improve the impact of the articles on the policy agenda and to contribute to the build-up of a community of research, a one-day workshop will be organized in June 2018 during which the authors of accepted or “revise-and- resubmit” papers will gather for collective and mutual coaching and support.

Important dates

Submit here:

Indicate the title of the special issue where requested “Enriching the CAP evaluation toolbox with experimental approaches”

Do not hesitate to forward the call for papers on to former doctoral students and to co-authors. You may want to submit an abstract of a potential paper so that an initial assessment of fit or appropriateness can be made.