The IFPRI Mobile Experimental Economics Laboratory (IMEEL) was established in 2007 by the Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division (MTID) of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI). Its primary objective is to implement economics experiments in the field to better understand the behavior of smallholders and the poor in rural areas, especially in Africa, Central America and the Caribbean, Latin America, and Southeast Asia. Because IMEEL is portable, researchers can conduct behavioral studies of individuals and groups in remote areas.
The Benefits of an Experimental Approach
Experimental economics methods are becoming commonplace in the design of economic policy. Experiments complement traditional field studies such as surveys. First, the experimental approach allows researchers to have a relatively high degree of control over the manner in which data are generated. This enables them to study the economic question of interest more precisely by isolating the effects of alternative institutions and incentives on individual behavior. Second, since experiments usually test behavior in controlled environments, they can easily be adapted across a broad range of conditions. Third, experiments allow the researcher to observe how people actually make choices. IMEEL primarily focuses on field experiments, as opposed to the laboratory experiments that are often used in universities in developed countries.