IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/22931.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application

Author

Listed:
  • Abhijit Banerjee
  • Rukmini Banerji
  • James Berry
  • Esther Duflo
  • Harini Kannan
  • Shobhini Mukherji
  • Marc Shotland
  • Michael Walton

Abstract

The promise of randomized controlled trials is that evidence gathered through the evaluation of a specific program helps us—possibly after several rounds of fine-tuning and multiple replications in different contexts—to inform policy. However, critics have pointed out that a potential constraint in this agenda is that results from small “proof-of-concept” studies run by nongovernment organizations may not apply to policies that can be implemented by governments on a large scale. After discussing the potential issues, this paper describes the journey from the original concept to the design and evaluation of scalable policy. We do so by evaluating a series of strategies that aim to integrate the nongovernment organization Pratham’s “Teaching at the Right Level” methodology into elementary schools in India. The methodology consists of re-organizing instruction based on children’s actual learning levels, rather than on a prescribed syllabus, and has previously been shown to be very effective when properly implemented. We present evidence from randomized controlled trials on the designs that failed to produce impacts within the regular schooling system but helped shape subsequent versions of the program. As a result of this process, two versions of the programs were developed that successfully raised children’s learning levels using scalable models in government schools. We use this example to draw general lessons about using randomized control trials to design scalable policies.

Suggested Citation

  • Abhijit Banerjee & Rukmini Banerji & James Berry & Esther Duflo & Harini Kannan & Shobhini Mukherji & Marc Shotland & Michael Walton, 2016. "From Proof of Concept to Scalable Policies: Challenges and Solutions, with an Application," NBER Working Papers 22931, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22931
    Note: CH DEV ED
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w22931.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Abhijit Banerjee & Sharon Barnhardt & Esther Duflo, 2015. "Movies, Margins, and Marketing: Encouraging the Adoption of Iron-Fortified Salt," NBER Chapters,in: Insights in the Economics of Aging, pages 285-306 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Joshua D. Angrist & Jörn-Steffen Pischke, 2010. "The Credibility Revolution in Empirical Economics: How Better Research Design Is Taking the Con out of Econometrics," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 24(2), pages 3-30, Spring.
    3. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Instruments, Randomization, and Learning about Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 424-455, June.
    4. Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee & Alice H. Amsden & Robert H. Bates & Jagdish Bhagwati & Angus Deaton & Nicholas Stern, 2007. "Making Aid Work," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262026155, May.
    5. Banerjee, Abhijit & Banerji, Rukmini & Berry, James & Duflo, Esther & Kannan, Harini & Mukerji, Shobhini & Shotland, Marc & Walton, Michael, 2016. "Mainstreaming an Effective Intervention: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations of "Teaching at the Right Level" in India," CEPR Discussion Papers 11530, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Esther Duflo & Rema Hanna & Stephen P. Ryan, 2012. "Incentives Work: Getting Teachers to Come to School," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1241-1278, June.
    7. Hunt Allcott, 2015. "Site Selection Bias in Program Evaluation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(3), pages 1117-1165.
    8. Esther Duflo & Pascaline Dupas & Michael Kremer, 2011. "Peer Effects, Teacher Incentives, and the Impact of Tracking: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Kenya," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 1739-1774, August.
    9. Sylvain Chassang & Gerard Padro I Miquel & Erik Snowberg, 2012. "Selective Trials: A Principal-Agent Approach to Randomized Controlled Experiments," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 102(4), pages 1279-1309, June.
    10. 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.
    11. Agha Ali Akram & Shyamal Chowdhury & Ahmed Mushfiq Mobarak, 2017. "Effects of Emigration on Rural Labor Markets," NBER Working Papers 23929, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Sylvie Moulin & Michael Kremer & Paul Glewwe, 2009. "Many Children Left Behind? Textbooks and Test Scores in Kenya," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(1), pages 112-135, January.
    13. Hausman, Jerry A. & Wise, David A. (ed.), 1985. "Social Experimentation," National Bureau of Economic Research Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226319407, November.
    14. Manuela Angelucci & Giacomo De Giorgi, 2009. "Indirect Effects of an Aid Program: How Do Cash Transfers Affect Ineligibles' Consumption?," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 99(1), pages 486-508, March.
    15. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Rukmini Banerji & Esther Duflo & Rachel Glennerster & Stuti Khemani, 2010. "Pitfalls of Participatory Programs: Evidence from a Randomized Evaluation in Education in India," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, vol. 2(1), pages 1-30, February.
    16. Donald B. Rubin, 1981. "Estimation in Parallel Randomized Experiments," Journal of Educational and Behavioral Statistics, , vol. 6(4), pages 377-401, December.
    17. Jerry A. Hausman & David A. Wise, 1985. "Social Experimentation," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number haus85-1.
    18. Fischer, Gregory & Berry, James & Guiteras, Raymond, 2012. "Eliciting and utilizing willingness to pay: evidence from field trials in Northern Ghana," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 47913, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    19. Banerjee, Abhijit & Duflo, Esther & Imbert, Clement & Mathew, Santosh & Pande, Rohini, 2016. "E-Governance, Accountability, and Leakage in Public Programs: Experimental Evidence from a Financial Management Reform in India," Working Paper Series rwp16-056, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    20. Pascaline Dupas & Edward Miguel, 2016. "Impacts and Determinants of Health Levels in Low-Income Countries," NBER Working Papers 22235, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    21. repec:idb:brikps:77778 is not listed on IDEAS
    22. James Heckman & Lance Lochner & Christopher Taber, 1998. "Explaining Rising Wage Inequality: Explanations With A Dynamic General Equilibrium Model of Labor Earnings With Heterogeneous Agents," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 1(1), pages 1-58, January.
    23. Berry, James & Fischer, Greg & Guiteras, Raymond, 2015. "Eliciting and Utilizing Willingness to Pay: Evidence from Field Trials in Northern Ghana," CEPR Discussion Papers 10703, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    24. 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.
    25. 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, January.
    26. Abhijit Banerjee & Rukmini Banerji & Esther Duflo, 2016. "Mainstreaming an Effective Intervention: Evidence from Randomized Evaluations of “Teaching at the Right Level†in India," Working Papers id:11419, eSocialSciences.
    27. Karthik Muralidharan & Venkatesh Sundararaman, 2015. "Editor's Choice The Aggregate Effect of School Choice: Evidence from a Two-Stage Experiment in India," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 130(3), pages 1011-1066.
    28. Susan Athey & Guido Imbens, 2016. "The Econometrics of Randomized Experiments," Papers 1607.00698, arXiv.org.
    29. Jerry A. Hausman & David A. Wise, 1985. "Introduction to "Social Experimentation"," NBER Chapters,in: Social Experimentation, pages 1-10 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    30. Abhijit Banerjee & Dean Karlan & Jonathan Zinman, 2015. "Six Randomized Evaluations of Microcredit: Introduction and Further Steps," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 7(1), pages 1-21, January.
    31. Barrera-Osorio, Felipe & Linden, Leigh L., 2009. "The use and misuse of computers in education : evidence from a randomized experiment in Colombia," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4836, The World Bank.
    32. Lant Pritchett & Justin Sandefur, 2015. "Learning from Experiments When Context Matters," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 105(5), pages 471-475, May.
    33. Abhijit Banerjee & Sylvain Chassang & Erik Snowberg, 2016. "Decision Theoretic Approaches to Experiment Design and External Validity," NBER Working Papers 22167, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    34. Rachael Meager, 2015. "Understanding the Impact of Microcredit Expansions: A Bayesian Hierarchical Analysis of 7 Randomised Experiments," Papers 1506.06669, arXiv.org, revised Jul 2016.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. Banking the Unbanked: The Indian Revolution
      by Steve Cecchetti and Kim Schoenholtz in Money, Banking and Financial Markets on 2017-11-06 19:46:45

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. repec:aea:aecrev:v:107:y:2017:i:5:p:1-26 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Cristina Corduneanu-Huci & Michael T. Dorsch & Paul Maarek, 2017. "Learning to constrain: Political competition and randomized controlled trials in development," THEMA Working Papers 2017-24, THEMA (THéorie Economique, Modélisation et Applications), Université de Cergy-Pontoise.
    3. 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.
    4. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:185-204 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Regan, Mark & Keane, Claire & Walsh, John R, 2018. "Using behavioural experiments to pre-test policy," Papers BP2019/2, Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI).
    6. Jonathan M.V. Davis & Jonathan Guryan & Kelly Hallberg & Jens Ludwig, 2017. "The Economics of Scale-Up," NBER Working Papers 23925, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    7. Daniel O. Gilligan & Naureen Karachiwalla & Ibrahim Kasirye & Adrienne M. Lucas & Derek Neal, 2018. "Educator Incentives and Educational Triage in Rural Primary Schools," NBER Working Papers 24911, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Cameron, Lisa A. & Shah, Manisha, 2017. "Scaling Up Sanitation: Evidence from an RCT in Indonesia," IZA Discussion Papers 10619, Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA).
    9. Andrabi, Tahir & Das, Jishnu & Khwaja, Asim Ijaz & Ozyurt, Selcuk & Singh, Niharika, 2018. "Upping the Ante: The Equilibrium Effects of Unconditional Grants to Private Schools," Working Paper Series rwp18-019, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
    10. Esther Duflo, 2017. "The Economist as Plumber," NBER Working Papers 23213, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. repec:aea:jecper:v:31:y:2017:i:4:p:103-24 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Karthik Muralidharan & Paul Niehaus, 2017. "Experimentation at Scale," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 31(4), pages 103-124, Fall.
    13. Duflo, Esther, 2017. "The Economist as Plumber," CEPR Discussion Papers 11881, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I20 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - General
    • I21 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Analysis of Education
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O35 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Innovation; Research and Development; Technological Change; Intellectual Property Rights - - - Social Innovation

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:22931. 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: (). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    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 CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc 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 RePEc Author Service 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.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.