Using Rcts to Estimate Long-Run Impacts in Development Economics

68 Pages Posted: 15 Jan 2019

See all articles by Adrien Bougen

Adrien Bougen

University of California, Berkeley

Yue Huang

University of California, Berkeley

Michael Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics; Brookings Institution; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Center for Global Development; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

Date Written: January 2019

Abstract

We assess evidence from randomized control trials (RCTs) on long-run economic productivity and living standards in poor countries. We first document that several studies estimate large positive long-run impacts, but that relatively few existing RCTs have been evaluated over the long-run. We next present evidence from a systematic survey of existing RCTs, with a focus on cash transfer and child health programs, and show that a meaningful subset can realistically be evaluated for long-run effects. We discuss ways to bridge the gap between the burgeoning number of development RCTs and the limited number that have been followed up to date, including through new panel (longitudinal) data, improved participant tracking methods, alternative research designs, and access to administrative, remote sensing, and cell phone data. We conclude that the rise of development economics RCTs since roughly 2000 provides a novel opportunity to generate high-quality evidence on the long-run drivers of living standards.

Keywords: cash transfers, child health, development economics, long-run impacts, panel (longitudinal) data, randomized controlled trials

Suggested Citation

Bougen, Adrien and Huang, Yue and Kremer, Michael R. and Miguel, Edward, Using Rcts to Estimate Long-Run Impacts in Development Economics (January 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13443. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3315376

Adrien Bougen (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
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Yue Huang

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

310 Barrows Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
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Michael R. Kremer

Harvard University - Department of Economics ( email )

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Brookings Institution

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) ( email )

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Center for Global Development

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Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

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Edward Miguel

University of California, Berkeley - Department of Economics ( email )

549 Evans Hall #3880
Berkeley, CA 94720-3880
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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