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Randomisation, Causality and the Role of Reasoned Intuition

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  • Kaushik Basu

Abstract

The method of randomisation has been a major driver in the recent rise to prominence of empirical development economics. It has helped uncover patterns and facts that had earlier escaped attention. But it has also given rise to debate and controversy. This paper evaluates the method of randomisation and concludes that while the method of randomisation is the gold standard for description, and does uncover what is here called "circumstantial causality", it is not able to demonstrate generalised causality. Nor does it, in itself, lead to policy conclusions, as is often claimed by its advocates. To get to policy conclusions requires combining the findings of randomised experiments with human intuition, which, being founded in evolution, has innate strengths. Moreover, even non-randomised empirical methods combined with reasoned intuition can help in crafting a development policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Kaushik Basu, 2014. "Randomisation, Causality and the Role of Reasoned Intuition," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 42(4), pages 455-472, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:oxdevs:v:42:y:2014:i:4:p:455-472
    DOI: 10.1080/13600818.2014.961414
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1080/13600818.2014.961414
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Charles F. Manski, 2013. "Response to the Review of ‘Public Policy in an Uncertain World’," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 0, pages 412-415, August.
    2. repec:spo:wpecon:info:hdl:2441/7o52iohb7k6srk09na40maa99 is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Manski, Charles F., 2013. "Public Policy in an Uncertain World: Analysis and Decisions," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674066892, December.
    4. Elizabeth Beasley & Elise Huillery, 2013. "School Resources, Behavioral Responses and School Quality: Short-Term Experimental Evidence from Niger," Sciences Po publications info:hdl:2441/7o52iohb7k6, Sciences Po.
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    Cited by:

    1. Jörg Peters & Jörg Langbein & Gareth Roberts, 2018. "Generalization in the Tropics – Development Policy, Randomized Controlled Trials, and External Validity," World Bank Research Observer, World Bank Group, vol. 33(1), pages 34-64.

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