Carlsson, Fredrik, Haoran He and Peter Martinsson. 2013. “Easy come, easy go.” Experimental Economics 16:2: 190-207.
A growing number of experimental studies focus on the differences between the lab and the field. One important difference between many lab and field experiments is how the endowment is obtained. By conducting a dictator game experiment, we investigate the influences of windfall and earned endowment on behavior in the laboratory and in the field.
We find subjects donate more in both environments if the endowment is a windfall gain. However, although the experimental design was intended to control for all effects other than environment, there are significant differences in behavior between the lab and the field for both windfall and earned endowment. This points to the importance of discussing the context when interpreting both laboratory and field experiment results as well as when conducting replication studies.