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In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments

  • Miriam Bruhn
  • David McKenzie

We present new evidence on the randomization methods used in existing experiments, and new simulations comparing these methods. We find that many papers do not describe the randomization in detail, implying that better reporting is needed. Our simulations suggest that in samples of 300 or more, the different methods perform similarly. However, for very persistent outcome variables, and in smaller samples, pair-wise matching and stratification perform best and appear to dominate the rerandomization methods commonly used in practice. The simulations also point to specific recommendations for which variables to balance on, and for which controls to include in the ex post analysis. (JEL C83, C93, O12)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 4 (October)
Pages: 200-232

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:1:y:2009:i:4:p:200-232
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.1.4.200
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  1. Kosuke Imai & Gary King & Elizabeth A. Stuart, 2008. "Misunderstandings between experimentalists and observationalists about causal inference," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series A, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 171(2), pages 481-502.
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  8. Martina Björkman & Jakob Svensson, 2009. "Power to the People: Evidence from a Randomized Field Experiment on Community-Based Monitoring in Uganda," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 124(2), pages 735-769, May.
  9. Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden & Shawn Cole, 2005. "Remedying education: Evidence from two randomized experiments in india," Framed Field Experiments 00122, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David & Woodruff, Christopher, 2007. "Returns to capital in microenterprises : evidence from a field experiment," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4230, The World Bank.
  11. Michael Kremer, 2003. "Randomized Evaluations of Educational Programs in Developing Countries: Some Lessons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 102-106, May.
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