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Lies, damned lies, and RCT : une expérience de J-PAL sur le microcrédit rural au Maroc

Author

Listed:
  • Florent Bédécarrats

    () (AFD Paris, France)

  • Isabelle Guérin

    () (IRD CESSMA)

  • Solène Morvant-Roux

    () (School of Social Sciences UNIGE-G3S, University of Geneva)

  • François Roubaud

    () (IRD, UMR DIAL, PSL, Université Paris-Dauphine)

Abstract

Comment expliquer le succès académique d’une étude randomisée dont la validité, tant interne qu’externe, est pourtant très problématique ? Prenant l’exemple d’une étude menée par le laboratoire J-PAL sur le microcrédit rural marocain, cet article mobilise les outils analytiques de la statistique, de l’économie politique et de la sociologie des sciences pour répondre à cette question. Il décrit l’ensemble de la chaîne de production de l’étude, depuis l’échantillonnage jusqu’à la publication et la dissémination des résultats, en passant par la collecte de données, la saisie et le recodage, les estimations et les interprétations. Il met en évidence une stratégie particulièrement offensive qui permet aux chercheurs de J-PAL de faire table rase du passé, y compris en s’affranchissant d’une « culture de la donnée », de refuser la critique et de contourner les règles de base de l’exercice scientifique tout au long du processus de recherche. Bien au-delà de J-PAL, nos analyses questionnent la supposée supériorité des méthodes randomisées tout en reflétant un malaise grandissant au sein du champ académique, qui parvient de moins en moins à faire respecter les règles de base de l’éthique et de la déontologie scientifique._______english_______How can we explain the academic success of a randomized study whose validity, both internal and external, is very problematic? Drawing on a study conducted on Moroccan rural microcredit by J-PAL, this article uses analytical tools from statistics, political economy and sociology of science to answer this question. It describes the entire study production chain, from sampling, data collection, data entry and recoding, estimates and interpretations to publication and dissemination of results. It highlights a particularly aggressive strategy carried out throughout the study process and in the field of research. This allows J-PAL researchers to put the past behind them, including by freeing themselves from a "data culture", rejecting criticism and bypassing the basic rules of scientific exercise throughout the research process. Well beyond J-PAL, our analyses question the supposed superiority of randomized methods while reflecting a growing unease within the academic field, which is less and less successful in enforcing the basic rules of ethics and scientific deontology.

Suggested Citation

  • Florent Bédécarrats & Isabelle Guérin & Solène Morvant-Roux & François Roubaud, 2019. "Lies, damned lies, and RCT : une expérience de J-PAL sur le microcrédit rural au Maroc," Working Papers DT/2019/04, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt201904
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    File URL: http://www.dial.ird.fr/media/ird-sites-d-unites-de-recherche/dial/documents/publications/doc_travail/2019/2019-04
    File Function: First version, 2019
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    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Misunderstanding the average impact of microcredit?
      by milfordbateman in Development Economics on 2019-07-31 10:30:21

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Randomized Control Trial (RCT); microcrédit; Réplication; Maroc; validité interne; validité externe; sociologie des sciences; microcredit; Replication; Morocco; internal validity; internal validity; sociology of sciences.;

    JEL classification:

    • A11 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Role of Economics; Role of Economists
    • A14 - General Economics and Teaching - - General Economics - - - Sociology of Economics
    • B41 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Economic Methodology - - - Economic Methodology
    • C18 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Methodolical Issues: General
    • C93 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Field Experiments
    • N27 - Economic History - - Financial Markets and Institutions - - - Africa; Oceania
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

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