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Beyond baseline and follow-up: The case for more T in experiments

  • McKenzie, David

The vast majority of randomized experiments in economics rely on a single baseline and single follow-up survey. While such a design is suitable for study of highly autocorrelated and relatively precisely measured outcomes in the health and education domains, it is unlikely to be optimal for measuring noisy and relatively less autocorrelated outcomes such as business profits, and household incomes and expenditures. Taking multiple measurements of such outcomes at relatively short intervals allows one to average out noise, increasing power. When the outcomes have low autocorrelation and budget is limited, it can make sense to do no baseline at all. Moreover, I show how for such outcomes, more power can be achieved with multiple follow-ups than allocating the same total sample size over a single follow-up and baseline. I also highlight the large gains in power from ANCOVA analysis rather than difference-in-differences analysis when autocorrelations are low.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Development Economics.

Volume (Year): 99 (2012)
Issue (Month): 2 ()
Pages: 210-221

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Handle: RePEc:eee:deveco:v:99:y:2012:i:2:p:210-221
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/devec

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  1. Andrabi, Tahir & Das, Jishnu & Khwaja, Asim Ijaz & Zajonc, Tristan, 2009. "Do value-added estimates add value ? accounting for learning dynamics," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5066, The World Bank.
  2. Nicholas Bloom & Benn Eifert & Aprajit Mahajan & David McKenzie & John Roberts, 2013. "Does Management Matter? Evidence from India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 128(1), pages 1-51.
  3. Michael Woolcock, 2009. "Toward a plurality of methods in project evaluation: a contextualised approach to understanding impact trajectories and efficacy," Journal of Development Effectiveness, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 1(1), pages 1-14.
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  5. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264, 08.
  6. Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," NBER Technical Working Papers 0333, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  7. Marcel Fafchamps & David McKenzie & Simon Quinn & Christopher Woodruff, 2010. "Using PDA consistency checks to increase the precision of profits and sales measurement in panels," CSAE Working Paper Series 2010-19, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  8. Gibson, John & Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott, 2001. "Improving Estimates Of Inequality And Poverty From Urban China'S Household Income And Expenditure Survey," Working Papers 11989, University of California, Davis, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  9. Guido M. Imbens & Jeffrey M. Wooldridge, 2008. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," NBER Working Papers 14251, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  10. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
  11. Marcel Fafchamps & David McKenzie & Simon R. Quinn & Christopher Woodruff, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female microenterprises growing? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," NBER Working Papers 17207, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim, 2010. "Non-Classical Measurement Error in Long-Term Retrospective Recall Surveys," Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, Department of Economics, University of Oxford, vol. 72(5), pages 687-695, October.
  13. Das, Jishnu & Dercon, Stefan & Habyarimana, James & Krishnan, Pramila, 2005. "Teacher shocks and student learning : evidence from Zambia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3602, The World Bank.
  14. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2010. "The Development Impact of a Best Practice Seasonal Worker Policy," CReAM Discussion Paper Series 1029, Centre for Research and Analysis of Migration (CReAM), Department of Economics, University College London.
  15. McKenzie, David J, 2004. "Aggregate Shocks and Urban Labor Market Responses: Evidence from Argentina's Financial Crisis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 719-58, July.
  16. Bruhn, Miriam & McKenzie, David, 2008. "In pursuit of balance : randomization in practice in development field experiments," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4752, The World Bank.
  17. Miriam Bruhn, 2011. "License to Sell: The Effect of Business Registration Reform on Entrepreneurial Activity in Mexico," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(1), pages 382-386, February.
  18. Zwane, A. P. & Zinman, J. & Van Dusen, E. & Pariente, W. & Null, C. & Miguel, E. & Kremer, Michael R. & Karlan, D. S. & Hornbeck, Richard A. & Gine, X. & Duflo, E. & Devoto, F. & Crepon, B. & Banerjee, 2011. "Being Surveyed Can Change Later Behavior and Related Parameter Estimates," Scholarly Articles 11339433, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  19. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 1984. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," Working Papers 554, Princeton University, Department of Economics, Industrial Relations Section..
  20. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1329-1372, November.
  21. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.
  22. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," CEPR Discussion Papers 7396, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  23. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2006. "Teaching entrepreneurship: Impact of business training on microfinance clients and institutions," Natural Field Experiments 00282, The Field Experiments Website.
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