IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Using RCTs to Estimate Long-Run Impacts in Development Economics


  • Adrien Bouguen
  • Yue Huang
  • Michael Kremer
  • Edward Miguel


We assess evidence from randomized control trials (RCTs) on long-run economic productivity and living standards in poor countries. We first document that several studies estimate large positive long-run impacts, but that relatively few existing RCTs have been evaluated over the long-run. We next present evidence from a systematic survey of existing RCTs, with a focus on cash transfer and child health programs, and show that a meaningful subset can realistically be evaluated for long-run effects. We discuss ways to bridge the gap between the burgeoning number of development RCTs and the limited number that have been followed up to date, including through new panel (longitudinal) data, improved participant tracking methods, alternative research designs, and access to administrative, remote sensing, and cell phone data. We conclude that the rise of development economics RCTs since roughly 2000 provides a novel opportunity to generate high-quality evidence on the long-run drivers of living standards.

Suggested Citation

  • Adrien Bouguen & Yue Huang & Michael Kremer & Edward Miguel, 2018. "Using RCTs to Estimate Long-Run Impacts in Development Economics," NBER Working Papers 25356, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:25356
    Note: CH DEV EH

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: no

    Other versions of this item:


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

    Cited by:

    1. Jiafeng Chen & David M. Ritzwoller, 2021. "Semiparametric Estimation of Long-Term Treatment Effects," Papers 2107.14405,, revised Aug 2023.
    2. Fally, Thibault & Bergquist, Lauren & Faber, Benjamin & Hoelzlein, Matthias & Miguel, Edward & Rodríguez-Clare, Andres, 2022. "Scaling Agricultural Policy Interventions," CEPR Discussion Papers 17737, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    3. von Grafenstein, Liza & Kumar, Abhijeet & Kumar, Santosh & Vollmer, Sebastian, 2021. "Impacts of Double-Fortified Salt on Anemia and Cognition: Four-Year Follow-up Evidence from a School-Based Nutrition Intervention in India," IZA Discussion Papers 14627, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    4. Dennis Egger & Johannes Haushofer & Edward Miguel & Paul Niehaus & Michael Walker, 2022. "General Equilibrium Effects of Cash Transfers: Experimental Evidence From Kenya," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 90(6), pages 2603-2643, November.
    5. Eunbin Chung & Inbok Rhee, 2022. "Disasters and intergroup peace in sub-Saharan Africa," Journal of Peace Research, Peace Research Institute Oslo, vol. 59(1), pages 58-72, January.
    6. Pedro Carneiro & Lucy Kraftman & Giacomo Mason & Lucie Moore & Imran Rasul & Molly Scott, 2021. "The Impacts of a Multifaceted Prenatal Intervention on Human Capital Accumulation in Early Life," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 111(8), pages 2506-2549, August.
    7. Joan Hamory & Edward Miguel & Michael W. Walker & Michael Kremer & Sarah J. Baird, 2020. "Twenty Year Economic Impacts of Deworming," NBER Working Papers 27611, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    8. Vikram Tyagi & Sophie Webber, 2021. "A rusting gold standard: Failures in an Indonesian RCT, and the implications for poverty reduction," Environment and Planning A, , vol. 53(5), pages 992-1011, August.
    9. Ben Eyre, 2021. "Effective or expedient: Market devices and philanthropic techniques," Economic Anthropology, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 8(2), pages 234-246, June.
    10. Corduneanu-Huci, Cristina & Dorsch, Michael T. & Maarek, Paul, 2021. "The politics of experimentation: Political competition and randomized controlled trials," Journal of Comparative Economics, Elsevier, vol. 49(1), pages 1-21.
    11. Manuel Trajtenberg, 2020. "Comment on Innovation in the US Federal Government," NBER Chapters, in: The Role of Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Economic Growth, pages 464-473, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I32 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Measurement and Analysis of Poverty
    • I38 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty - - - Government Programs; Provision and Effects of Welfare Programs
    • O12 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development
    • O15 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Economic Development: Human Resources; Human Development; Income Distribution; Migration
    • O16 - Economic Development, Innovation, Technological Change, and Growth - - Economic Development - - - Financial Markets; Saving and Capital Investment; Corporate Finance and Governance

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:


    Access and download statistics


    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:25356. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    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.

    We have no bibliographic references for this item. You can help adding them by using 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.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: the person in charge (email available below). General contact details of provider: .

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

    IDEAS is a RePEc service. RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.