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The Experimental Approach to Development Economics

  • Abhijit V. Banerjee
  • Esther Duflo

Randomized experiments have become a popular tool in development economics research, and have been the subject of a number of criticisms. This paper reviews the recent literature, and discusses the strengths and limitations of this approach in theory and in practice. We argue that the main virtue of randomized experiments is that, due to the close collaboration between researchers and implementers, they allow the estimation of parameters that it would not otherwise be possible to evaluate. We discuss the concerns that have been raised regarding experiments, and generally conclude that while they are real, they are often not specific to experiments. We conclude by discussing the relationship between theory and experiments.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 14467.

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Date of creation: Nov 2008
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Publication status: published as Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2009. "The Experimental Approach to Development Economics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 151-178, 05.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:14467
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