The Experimental Approach to Development Economics

Posted: 4 Jun 2010

See all articles by Abhijit V. Banerjee

Abhijit V. Banerjee

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics

Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics; Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL); National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR); Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD)

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Date Written: January 2009

Abstract

Randomized experiments have become a popular tool in development economics research and have been the subject of a number of criticisms. This paper reviews the recent literature and discusses the strengths and limitations of this approach in theory and in practice. We argue that the main virtue of randomized experiments is that, owing to the close collaboration between researchers and implementers, they allow the estimation of parameters that would not otherwise be possible to evaluate. We discuss the concerns that have been raised regarding experiments and generally conclude that, although real, they are often not specific to experiments. We conclude by discussing the relationship between theory and experiments.

Suggested Citation

Banerjee, Abhijit V. and Duflo, Esther, The Experimental Approach to Development Economics (January 2009). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 1, pp. 151-178, 2009. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1594486 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev.economics.050708.143235

Abhijit V. Banerjee (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

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Room E52-252D
Cambridge, MA 02142
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Esther Duflo

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Department of Economics ( email )

50 Memorial Drive
Room E52-544
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States
617-258-7013 (Phone)
617-253-6915 (Fax)

Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) ( email )

Cambridge, MA
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.povertyactionlab.org/

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

Bureau for Research and Economic Analysis of Development (BREAD) ( email )

Duke University
Durham, NC 90097
United States

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