What is the definition of a natural experiment? Identify any recent examples of natural experiments. To what extent might changes in legislation to limit smoking in public places or to increase the speed limit on highways be considered natural experiments?
A natural experiment is an observational study in which the researcher takes advantage of naturally occurring differences in the environment or treatment to measure the impact of a particular variable. Natural experiments are typically used in the field of epidemiology to study the effects of a particular intervention.
Recent examples of natural experiments include the investigation of the impact of air pollution on mortality rates in Beijing, China; the study of the effect of legalizing marijuana on crime rates in Colorado; and the investigation of the impact of increases in minimum wage on employment rates. Changes in legislation to limit smoking in public places or to increase the speed limit on highways might be considered natural experiments because they are changes in environmental factors that may…
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