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Randomized controlled trials of multi-sectoral programs: Lessons from development research

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  • Quisumbing, Agnes R.
  • Ahmed, Akhter
  • Gilligan, Daniel O.
  • Hoddinott, John
  • Kumar, Neha
  • Leroy, Jef L.
  • Menon, Purnima
  • Olney, Deanna K.
  • Roy, Shalini
  • Ruel, Marie

Abstract

Development is a multi-faceted process; achieving development goals thus requires a multi-sectoral approach. For over two decades, our research group of economists and nutritionists has designed and implemented randomized trials to assess the effectiveness of multisectoral programs in improving nutrition, food security, and other measures of well-being, largely at the request of developing country governments, development partners, and non-governmental organizations. Our approach addresses three perceived pitfalls of RCTs: the “black box” nature of RCTs, limited external validity, and challenges in translation of results to impacts at scale. We address these concerns by identifying and assessing programmatic pathways to impact with quantitative and qualitative methods; studying similar programs implemented by different organizations across various settings; and working closely with implementing partners in the design, research, and dissemination processes to inform adaptation and scale-up of programs and policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Quisumbing, Agnes R. & Ahmed, Akhter & Gilligan, Daniel O. & Hoddinott, John & Kumar, Neha & Leroy, Jef L. & Menon, Purnima & Olney, Deanna K. & Roy, Shalini & Ruel, Marie, 2020. "Randomized controlled trials of multi-sectoral programs: Lessons from development research," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 127(C).
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:wdevel:v:127:y:2020:i:c:s0305750x19304711
    DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2019.104822
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hidrobo, Melissa & Hoddinott, John & Peterman, Amber & Margolies, Amy & Moreira, Vanessa, 2014. "Cash, food, or vouchers? Evidence from a randomized experiment in northern Ecuador," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 107(C), pages 144-156.
    2. John Hoddinott & Susanna Sandström & Joanna Upton, 2018. "The Impact of Cash and Food Transfers: Evidence from a Randomized Intervention in Niger," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(4), pages 1032-1049.
    3. Alan de Brauw & Patrick Eozenou & Daniel O Gilligan & Christine Hotz & Neha Kumar & J V Meenakshi, 2018. "Biofortification, Crop Adoption and Health Information: Impact Pathways in Mozambique and Uganda," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 100(3), pages 906-930.
    4. Ana Maria Buller & Amber Peterman & Meghna Ranganathan & Alexandra Bleile & Melissa Hidrobo & Lori Heise, 2018. "A Mixed-Method Review of Cash Transfers and Intimate Partner Violence in Low- and Middle-Income Countries," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 33(2), pages 218-258.
    5. Skoufias, Emmanuel, 2005. "PROGRESA and its impacts on the welfare of rural households in Mexico:," Research reports 139, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
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