Courtesy of University Communications
In times of need, college students often find creative ways to make extra money. However, many are missing out on a lesser-known opportunity of earning money by participating in economics studies on campus.
While students participate in experiments on campus almost daily, not all of them are paid. With economics, nearly all experiments conducted by the department rewards participants with cash.
“Economists think that in order for the data to reflect real decision making, participants need to be paid,” said Caleb Cox, a graduate research associate in the Ohio State economics department. “The decisions that people make actually have an effect on how much money they earn, which is an incentive to perform.”
Cox said each experiment session has roughly 20 participants, but sometimes less depending on the particular experiment. For every experiment there are on average three or four sessions.
The money awarded to participants comes from a few different sources.
“The National Science Foundation is a big supporter of the research we do here, there are also some university funds,” said economics professor John Kagel, who works with experiment economics at OSU.
Kagel said he has received “a little over $100,000 from NSF grants” this year to carry out experiments and cover overhead cost.
“I won a research award, so they gave me $10,000 for that, what I have been using to pay subjects,” Kagel said.
The economics department applies to receive money from the university, but Kagel said there is not a specific fund for experiments.
Aside from a “show up” fee awarded to all paid participants who volunteer for an experiment, the dollar amount rewarded varies between students and between experiments, but on average, students walk away with an extra $20 in their wallets, Kagel said.
Some students, however, earn less.
“This time I only made $9. I made around $15 before and I even got as low as $6,” Breana Higgins, a first-year in international studies, said in an e-mail.
Others, like Dakota Probst, a fourth-year in economics, have found more success.
Probst has participated in three studies, and said they are “easy money.”
“I have made different amounts each time, usually around $20,” Probst said.
Higgins and Probst participated in a study on Jan. 20.
While earnings can be inconsistent, Kagel said there are very few complaints about the payment system, and most students who sign up for one experiment are likely to return.
“Most of our subjects who have been in our experiments, 95 percent come back for another one,” Kagel said.
Any student is welcome to sign up for experiments, regardless of major or area of study.
Students can sign up for experiments on OSU’s economics website.