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The Experimental Approach to Development Economics

  • Abhijit V. Banerjee
  • Esther Duflo

    ()

    (Department of Economics and Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02142)

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.

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Article provided by Annual Reviews in its journal Annual Review of Economics.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (05)
Pages: 151-178

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Handle: RePEc:anr:reveco:v:1:y:2009:p:151-178
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