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Evaluation of Development Programs: Randomized Controlled Trials or Regressions?

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  • Chris Elbers
  • Jan Willem Gunning

Abstract

Can project evaluation methods be used to evaluate programs: complex interventions involving multiple activities? A program evaluation cannot be based simply on separate evaluations of its components if interactions between the activities are important. In this paper a measure is proposed, the total program effect (TPE), which is an extension of the average treatment effect on the treated (ATET). It explicitly takes into account that in the real world (with heterogeneous treatment effects) individual treatment effects and program assignment are often correlated. The TPE can also deal with the common situation in which such a correlation is the result of decisions on (intended) program participation not being taken centrally. In this context RCTs are less suitable even for the simplest interventions. The TPE can be estimated by applying regression techniques to observational data from a representative sample from the targeted population. The approach is illustrated with an evaluation of a health insurance program in Vietnam.

Suggested Citation

  • Chris Elbers & Jan Willem Gunning, 2014. "Evaluation of Development Programs: Randomized Controlled Trials or Regressions?," World Bank Economic Review, World Bank Group, vol. 28(3), pages 432-445.
  • Handle: RePEc:oup:wbecrv:v:28:y:2014:i:3:p:432-445.
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Bigsten, Arne, 2016. "The Development of Development Economics," Working Papers in Economics 653, University of Gothenburg, Department of Economics, revised Mar 2017.
    2. Headey, Derek D. & Hoddinott, John, 2016. "Agriculture, nutrition and the green revolution in Bangladesh," Agricultural Systems, Elsevier, vol. 149(C), pages 122-131.
    3. Naoyuki Yoshino & Umid Abidhadjaev, 2015. "An Impact Evaluation of Investment in Infrastructure : The Case of the Railway Connection in Uzbekistan," Working Papers id:7743, eSocialSciences.
    4. Tisboe, Francis & Nalley, Lanier & Dixon, Bruce & Popp, Jennie & Luckstead, Jeff, 2015. "Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Cocoa Livelihoods Program in Sub-Saharan Africa," 2015 Annual Meeting, January 31-February 3, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia 195713, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    5. Tsiboe, Francis & Nalley, Lawton Lanier & Dixon, Bruce L. & Popp, Jennie S. & Luckstead, Jeff, 2014. "Cost-Benefit Analysis of the Cocoa Livelihoods Program in Sub-Saharan Africa," 2015 Annual Meeting, January 31-February 3, 2015, Atlanta, Georgia 195775, Southern Agricultural Economics Association.
    6. Headey, Derek D. & Hoddinott, John F., 2014. "Understanding the rapid reduction of undernutrition in Nepal, 2001-2011:," IFPRI discussion papers 1384, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

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