IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this paper

Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit

  • Esther Duflo
  • Rachel Glennerster
  • Michael Kremer

This paper is a practical guide (a toolkit) for researchers, students and practitioners wishing to introduce randomization as part of a research design in the field. It first covers the rationale for the use of randomization, as a solution to selection bias and a partial solution to publication biases. Second, it discusses various ways in which randomization can be practically introduced in a field settings. Third, it discusses designs issues such as sample size requirements, stratification, level of randomization and data collection methods. Fourth, it discusses how to analyze data from randomized evaluations when there are departures from the basic framework. It reviews in particular how to handle imperfect compliance and externalities. Finally, it discusses some of the issues involved in drawing general conclusions from randomized evaluations, including the necessary use of theory as a guide when designing evaluations and interpreting results.

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: no

Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Technical Working Papers with number 0333.

in new window

Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0333
Note: CH TWP
Contact details of provider: Postal:
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.

Phone: 617-868-3900
Web page:

More information through EDIRC

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

as in new window
  1. Joshua Angrist & Eric Bettinger & Michael Kremer, 2006. "Long-Term Educational Consequences of Secondary School Vouchers: Evidence from Administrative Records in Colombia," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 96(3), pages 847-862, June.
  2. Raghabendra Chattopadhyay & Esther Duflo, 2004. "Women as Policy Makers: Evidence from a Randomized Policy Experiment in India," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(5), pages 1409-1443, 09.
  3. Esther Duflo & Rema Hanna, 2005. "Monitoring Works: Getting Teachers to Come to School," NBER Working Papers 11880, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2007. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," CEPR Discussion Papers 6182, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  5. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2007. "Expanding Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts," Working Papers 108, Center for Global Development.
  6. Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel & Rebecca Thornton, 2009. "Incentives to Learn," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 91(3), pages 437-456, August.
  7. Ravallion, Martin, 2005. "Evaluating anti-poverty programs," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3625, The World Bank.
  8. Elizabeth King & Eric Bettinger & Erik Bloom & Joshua Angrist & Michael Kremer, 2002. "Vouchers for private schooling in colombia: Evidence from a randomized natural experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00203, The Field Experiments Website.
  9. James Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Jeffrey Smith & Petra Todd, 1998. "Characterizing Selection Bias Using Experimental Data," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(5), pages 1017-1098, September.
  10. A. Smith, Jeffrey & E. Todd, Petra, 2005. "Does matching overcome LaLonde's critique of nonexperimental estimators?," Journal of Econometrics, Elsevier, vol. 125(1-2), pages 305-353.
  11. Stefan Dercon, 2004. "When Can School Inputs Improve Test Scores?," Economics Series Working Papers WPS/2004-25, University of Oxford, Department of Economics.
  12. Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Elasticities of Demand for Consumer Credit," Working Papers 926, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  13. Michael Kremer & Nauman Ilias & Paul Glewwe, 2003. "Teacher incentives," Natural Field Experiments 00257, The Field Experiments Website.
  14. Caroline M. Hoxby, 2003. "The Economics of School Choice," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number hox03-1, September.
  15. Paul Glewwe & Michael Kremer & Sylvie Moulin & Eric Zitzewitz, 2000. "Retrospective vs. Prospective Analyses of School Inputs: The Case of Flip Charts in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 8018, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  16. Buddelmeyer, Hielke & Skoufias, Emmanuel, 2004. "An evaluation of the performance of regression discontinuity design on PROGRESA," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3386, The World Bank.
  17. Glenn Harrison & John List, 2004. "Field experiments," Artefactual Field Experiments 00058, The Field Experiments Website.
  18. Joshua D. Angrist, 1998. "Estimating the Labor Market Impact of Voluntary Military Service Using Social Security Data on Military Applicants," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 66(2), pages 249-288, March.
  19. T. Paul Schultz, 2001. "School Subsidies for the Poor: Evaluating the Mexican Progresa Poverty Program," Working Papers 834, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  20. Steven Glazerman Dan Levy David Myers, 2002. "Nonexperimental Replications of Social Experiments A Systematic Review Interim ReportDiscussion Paper," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 9e8a2edf60ef4fa89ad9a5acf, Mathematica Policy Research.
  21. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2004. "Worms: Identifying Impacts on Education and Health in the Presence of Treatment Externalities," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 72(1), pages 159-217, 01.
  22. Joshua D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens, 1995. "Identification and Estimation of Local Average Treatment Effects," NBER Technical Working Papers 0118, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  23. Marianne Bertrand & Dean S. Karlan & Sendhil Mullainathan & Eldar Shafir & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "What's Psychology Worth? A Field Experiment in the Consumer Credit Market," Working Papers 918, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  24. Benjamin A. Olken, 2007. "Monitoring Corruption: Evidence from a Field Experiment in Indonesia," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 115, pages 200-249.
  25. Marianne Bertrand & Esther Duflo & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2002. "How Much Should We Trust Differences-in-Differences Estimates?," NBER Working Papers 8841, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  26. Schady, Norbert & Araujo, Maria Caridad, 2006. "Cash transfers, conditions, school enrollment, and child work : evidence from a randomized experiment in Ecuador," Policy Research Working Paper Series 3930, The World Bank.
  27. Glewwe, Paul & Kremer, Michael, 2006. "Schools, Teachers, and Education Outcomes in Developing Countries," Handbook of the Economics of Education, Elsevier.
  28. Marianne Bertrand & Simeon Djankov & Rema Hanna & Sendhil Mullainathan, 2006. "Does Corruption Produce Unsafe Drivers?," NBER Working Papers 12274, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  29. Banerjee, Abhijit & Bardhan, Pranab & Basu, Kaushik, 2005. "New Directions in Development Economics: Theory or Empirics? A Symposium in Economic and Political Weekly," Working Papers 127128, Cornell University, Department of Applied Economics and Management.
  30. Maluccio, John A. & Flores, Rafael, 2004. "Impact evaluation of a conditional cash transfer program," FCND briefs 184, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
  31. Gustavo J. Bobonis & Edward Miguel & Charu Puri-Sharma, 2006. "Anemia and School Participation," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(4).
  32. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Shawn Cole & Esther Duflo & Leigh Linden, 2007. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 122(3), pages 1235-1264.
  33. Ashenfelter, Orley & Harmon, Colm & Oosterbeek, Hessel, 1999. "A review of estimates of the schooling/earnings relationship, with tests for publication bias," Labour Economics, Elsevier, vol. 6(4), pages 453-470, November.
  34. Dean S. Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2005. "Observing Unobservables: Identifying Information Asymmetries with a Consumer Credit Field Experiment," Working Papers 911, Economic Growth Center, Yale University.
  35. De Long, J Bradford & Lang, Kevin, 1992. "Are All Economic Hypotheses False?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(6), pages 1257-72, December.
  36. Edward Miguel & Michael Kremer, 2003. "Networks, social learning, and technology adoption: The case of deworming drugs in kenya," Natural Field Experiments 00312, The Field Experiments Website.
  37. Juan Jose Diaz & Sudhanshu Handa, 2006. "An Assessment of Propensity Score Matching as a Nonexperimental Impact Estimator: Evidence from Mexico’s PROGRESA Program," Journal of Human Resources, University of Wisconsin Press, vol. 41(2).
  38. Angrist, Joshua D, 1990. "Lifetime Earnings and the Vietnam Era Draft Lottery: Evidence from Social Security Administrative Records," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 80(3), pages 313-36, June.
  39. Manski, Charles F., 1989. "Schooling as experimentation: a reappraisal of the postsecondary dropout phenomenon," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 8(4), pages 305-312, August.
  40. Astrid Grasdal, 2001. "The performance of sample selection estimators to control for attrition bias," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 10(5), pages 385-398.
  41. Petra E. Todd & Kenneth I. Wolpin, 2006. "Ex Ante Evaluation of Social Programs," PIER Working Paper Archive 06-022, Penn Institute for Economic Research, Department of Economics, University of Pennsylvania.
  42. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra E. Todd, 1997. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator: Evidence from Evaluating a Job Training Programme," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 64(4), pages 605-654.
  43. Esther Duflo & Emmanuel Saez, 2003. "The Role of Information and Social Interactions in Retirement Plan Decisions: Evidence from a Randomized Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 118(3), pages 815-842.
  44. Pascaline Dupas, 2006. "Relative risks and the market for sex: Teenagers, sugar daddies, and hiv in kenya," Natural Field Experiments 00235, The Field Experiments Website.
  45. Nava Ashraf & Dean Karlan & Wesley Yin, 2006. "Tying Odysseus to the Mast: Evidence From a Commitment Savings Product in the Philippines," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 121(2), pages 635-672.
  46. J.D. Angrist & Guido W. Imbens & D.B. Rubin, 1993. "Identification of Causal Effects Using Instrumental Variables," NBER Technical Working Papers 0136, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  47. James J. Heckman & Hidehiko Ichimura & Petra Todd, 1998. "Matching As An Econometric Evaluation Estimator," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 65(2), pages 261-294.
  48. Michael Kremer, 2003. "Randomized Evaluations of Educational Programs in Developing Countries: Some Lessons," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 93(2), pages 102-106, May.
  49. Parker, Susan W. & Rubalcava, Luis & Teruel, Graciela, 2008. "Evaluating Conditional Schooling and Health Programs," Handbook of Development Economics, Elsevier.
  50. Chang-Tai Hsieh & Miguel Urquiola, 2003. "When Schools Compete, How Do They Compete? An Assessment of Chile's Nationwide School Voucher Program," NBER Working Papers 10008, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  51. David S. Lee, 2002. "Trimming for Bounds on Treatment Effects with Missing Outcomes," NBER Technical Working Papers 0277, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  52. Mark M. Pitt & Shahidur R. Khandker, 1998. "The Impact of Group-Based Credit Programs on Poor Households in Bangladesh: Does the Gender of Participants Matter?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 106(5), pages 958-996, October.
  53. Dupas, Pascaline, 2005. "Relative Risks and the Market for Sex: Teenagers, Sugar Daddies and HIV in Kenya," MPRA Paper 248, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Aug 2006.
  54. Hausman, Jerry A & Wise, David A, 1979. "Attrition Bias in Experimental and Panel Data: The Gary Income Maintenance Experiment," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 47(2), pages 455-73, March.
  55. repec:feb:natura:0021 is not listed on IDEAS
  56. Duflo, Esther & Dupas, Pascaline & Kremer, Michael & Sinei, Samuel, 2006. "Education and HIV/AIDS prevention : evidence from a randomized evaluation in Western Kenya," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4024, The World Bank.
  57. Esther Duflo & Michael Kremer & Pascaline Dupas & Samuel Sinei, 2006. "Education and hiv/aids prevention: Evidence from a randomized evaluation in western kenya," Framed Field Experiments 00143, The Field Experiments Website.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberte:0333. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: ()

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.