Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit
This paper is a practical guide (a toolkit) for researchers, students and practitioners wishing to introduce randomization as part of a research design in the field. It first covers the rationale for the use of randomization, as a solution to selection bias and a partial solution to publication biases. Second, it discusses various ways in which randomization can be practically introduced in a field settings. Third, it discusses designs issues such as sample size requirements, stratification, level of randomization and data collection methods. Fourth, it discusses how to analyze data from randomized evaluations when there are departures from the basic framework. It reviews in particular how to handle imperfect compliance and externalities. Finally, it discusses some of the issues involved in drawing general conclusions from randomized evaluations, including the necessary use of theory as a guide when designing evaluations and interpreting results.
We thank the editor T.Paul Schultz, as well Abhijit Banerjee, Guido Imbens and Jeffrey Kling for extensive discussions, David Clingingsmith, Greg Fischer, Trang Nguyen and Heidi Williams for outstanding research assistance, and Paul Glewwe and Emmanuel Saez, whose previous collaboration with us inspired parts of this chapter. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.