Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=2272141
 


 



On Minimizing the Risk of Bias in Randomized Controlled Trials in Economics


Alex Eble


Brown University - Department of Economics

Peter Boone


London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE)

Diana Elbourne


London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine

January 6, 2014

Mimeo, (2013), Brown University

Abstract:     
Estimation of empirical relationships is prone to bias. Economists have carefully identified and addressed sources of bias in structural and quasi-experimental approaches, but the randomized control trial (RCT) has only recently begun to receive such scrutiny. In this paper, we argue that several lessons from medicine, derived from analysis of thousands of RCTs conducted over the past 60 years and establishing a clear link between certain practices and biased effect estimates, can be used to reduce the risk of bias in economics RCTs. We first identify the subset of these lessons applicable to RCTs in economics. We then use them to assess the risk of bias in estimates from economics RCTs published between 2001 and 2011. Most studies fail to report important details on study design necessary to assess risk of bias. Many report practices known to bias effect estimates. We conclude with suggestions on how to remedy these issues.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

Keywords: randomized controlled trials, field experiments, bias, treatment effect estimates

JEL Classification: C9, C90, C93, C10, C12, C18


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Date posted: May 31, 2013 ; Last revised: July 13, 2015

Suggested Citation

Eble, Alex and Boone, Peter and Elbourne, Diana, On Minimizing the Risk of Bias in Randomized Controlled Trials in Economics (January 6, 2014). Mimeo, (2013), Brown University. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2272141

Contact Information

Alex Eble (Contact Author)
Brown University - Department of Economics ( email )
64 Waterman Street
Providence, RI 02912
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.econ.brown.edu/students/alexander_eble/index.htm
Peter Boone
London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) ( email )
Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom
Diana Elbourne
London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine ( email )
Keppel Street
London, WC1E 7HT
United Kingdom
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