Using Randomized Controlled Trials to Estimate Long-Run Impacts in Development Economics

Posted: 4 Sep 2019

See all articles by Adrien Bouguen

Adrien Bouguen

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

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: August 2019

Abstract

We assess evidence from randomized controlled 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.

Suggested Citation

Bouguen, Adrien and Huang, Yue and Kremer, Michael R. and Miguel, Edward, Using Randomized Controlled Trials to Estimate Long-Run Impacts in Development Economics (August 2019). Annual Review of Economics, Vol. 11, pp. 523-561, 2019. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3445904 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-economics-080218-030333

Adrien Bouguen (Contact Author)

Paris School of Economics (PSE)

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Yue Huang

University of California, Berkeley ( email )

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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 )

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National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

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