Experiment on Pandemics and Prices

Last registered on May 01, 2020


Trial Information

General Information

Experiment on Pandemics and Prices
Initial registration date
April 30, 2020
Last updated
May 01, 2020, 5:00 PM EDT



Primary Investigator

University of Chicago

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Stanford University
PI Affiliation
University of Chicago

Additional Trial Information

In development
Start date
End date
Secondary IDs
We carry out a representative survey to quantify aversion to price gouging and identify the underlying mechanism driving these preferences.

External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Holz, Justin, Rafael Jimenez and Eduardo Laguna-M├╝ggenburg. 2020. "Experiment on Pandemics and Prices." AEA RCT Registry. May 01. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.5597-1.1
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details


Through the survey company Turk Prime, a nationally representative sample of individuals will be invited to answer a survey that presents information on the prices of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Intervention Start Date
Intervention End Date

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
(1) The willingness to pay for personal protective equipment, (2) the price of PPE individuals consider excessive, (3) The willingness to report sellers for charging high prices for personal protective equipment, and (3) the propensity to forgo money to donate PPE purchased from sellers who charge various prices.
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
A nationally representative sample of internet users will be invited to fill out a survey about health products and prices during a pandemic.
Experimental Design Details
Subjects will first be asked to answer some demographic questions and questions about their purchasing behavior. Second, subjects will be offered a service to track the availability of PPE. They will be asked to state the highest price they are willing to pay for those products and we will give them links to randomly chosen products sold for prices less than or equal to their maximum willingness to pay. Then, subjects will be asked whether they consider any price excessive for the PPE.

We will randomize subjects to a PPE: hand sanitizer or face masks. We will also randomize subjects to a price range charged by sellers of the product: $7.50 - $10.00 or $27.50 - $30.00.

Third, subjects will be given a multiple price list that gives them the option between a gift card of a certain amount and having us report sellers of the randomized product who charge in the randomized price range to the Department of Justice. Fourth, subjects will choose between a chance to either get $5 or donate PPE to an organization coordinating donations of PPE.

Finally, we will ask subjects some questions about their decisions.
Randomization Method
Randomization is conducted on a computer. We will use the "Evenly Presents Elements" option in the Qualtrics Randomizer to secure equal group sizes (of products and prices).
Randomization Unit
The unit of randomization is the individual.
Was the treatment clustered?

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
1200 adults
Sample size: planned number of observations
1200 adults. The Survey company sometimes overfills the order (produces extra observations) until the demographic quotas are satisfied. We expect few extra observations, but we will incorporate them to have more power. We ask our survey provider to restrict the survey to respondents who had not taken our pilot.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
There are two randomized elements in the experiment: (1) whether the good in question is hand sanitizer or face masks and (2) whether the seller price range is $7.50 - $10.00 or $27.50 - $30.00. These two elements are crossed with each other and the sample size is split evenly amongst them.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
We have 80% power to detect an effect size of 0.16 standard deviations at a critical threshold of alpha=0.05. With a std dev of $4.23 for WTP for reporting, our MDE is $0.68. With a std dev of 0.5 for donation rates, our MDE is 8 percentage points in donation rates.

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Social and Behavioral Sciences Institutional Review Board at the University of Chicago.
IRB Approval Date
IRB Approval Number
Analysis Plan

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Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Is the intervention completed?
Data Collection Complete
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Reports & Other Materials