Do We Need Another Expert? The Willingness to Pay for Economic Narratives

Last registered on April 26, 2024


Trial Information

General Information

Do We Need Another Expert? The Willingness to Pay for Economic Narratives
Initial registration date
April 21, 2024

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
April 26, 2024, 11:45 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.


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Primary Investigator

ifo Institute

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute
PI Affiliation
ifo Institute, University of Kassel

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Economic Narratives are a way of explaining current economic phenomena. Typically provided by so-called "experts", these narratives can impact individuals’ expectations about the economy. What is unknown so far, however, is whether those narratives about the economy are also finding relevant demand in the population. In this paper, we provide novel evidence on the population’s willingness-to-pay for expert narratives about the macroeconomy. In a first step, we asked renowned economic experts from the United States about their narratives about a current economic phenomenon, the recent surge in the risk of a recession forecasted by the Federal Reserve. In a second step, we offer participants in a large-scale survey representative of the adult population in the United States the opportunity to obtain information from these experts. First, we measure an incentivized Willingness-to-Pay (WTP) for this information. Next, we study the determinants of this WTP for narratives, using both demographic heterogeneity as well as additional treatments shedding light on the motives for information acquisition.
Finally, we also show how acquired narratives shape the beliefs of respondents about future economic developments, their understanding of major drivers of recessions, and their individual spending intentions. Our study highlights the importance of narratives for individual economic decision-making and, based on their influence on the belief formation process, on the macroeconomic development more generally.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Blesse, Sebastian et al. 2024. "Do We Need Another Expert? The Willingness to Pay for Economic Narratives." AEA RCT Registry. April 26.
Experimental Details


We measure people's demand for economic narratives. We also shed light on the determinants of this demand for narratives by varying the provision of additional information in the form of macroeconomic forecasts. After the elicitation of people's demand for economic narratives, we ask respondents about several outcomes and measure the causal effect of narrative provision.
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcomes in our analysis are the willingness-to-pay measures for expert narratives. Other primary outcomes are the growth/recession expectation posteriors, narratives of respondents about recession drivers, and spending decisions.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary and explorative outcomes in our setting are policy preferences, questions on rational inattention, and economic indicators.
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
Survey Respondents are subject to two possible treatment interventions. One is the possibility of acquiring information from experts about economic narratives. The other treatment intervention is the provision of information about the recession likelihood. Each participant is randomized into one treatment arm that either has none, one or both treatment interventions. To address experimenter demand concerns, our design also includes a follow-up survey.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Randomization is conducted using the built-in tool from the survey software.
Randomization Unit
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Sample size: planned number of observations
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Pure Control
N_PE: No Point Estimate
N_NA: No Narrative
WTP_NA: WTP Narrative
PE: Point Estimate
NA: Narrative
WTP_PE: WTP Point Estimate
WTP_NA_diff: WTP Different Narratives

500 Pure Control
500 N_PE+NA
1500 N_PE+WTP_NA
3000 PE+WTP_NA
500 PE+NA
1500 PE+N_NA
1000 PE+WTP_NA_diff
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Sample size was determined in order to have 80% power to detect a treatment effect of 0.1–0.2 SD of the narrative provision on outcomes and α = .05. The necessary sample size per treatment cell amounts to n = 390–1570.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
German Association for Experimental Economic Research e.V.
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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