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Beyond baseline and follow-up : the case for more t in experiments

Listed author(s):
  • McKenzie, David

The vast majority of randomized experiments in economics rely on a single baseline and single follow-up survey. If multiple follow-ups are conducted, the reason is typically to examine the trajectory of impact effects, so that in effect only one follow-up round is being used to estimate each treatment effect of interest. While such a design is suitable for study of highly autocorrelated and relatively precisely measured outcomes in the health and education domains, this paper makes the case that it is unlikely to be optimal for measuring noisy and relatively less autocorrelated outcomes such as business profits, household incomes and expenditures, and episodic health outcomes. Taking multiple measurements of such outcomes at relatively short intervals allows the researcher to average out noise, increasing power. When the outcomes have low autocorrelation, it can make sense to do no baseline at all. Moreover, the author shows how for such outcomes, more power can be achieved with multiple follow-ups than allocating the same total sample size over a single follow-up and baseline. The analysis highlights the large gains in power from ANCOVA rather than difference-in-differences when autocorrelations are low and a baseline is taken. The paper discusses the issues involved in multiple measurements, and makes recommendations for the design of experiments and related non-experimental impact evaluations.

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Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 5639.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2011
Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:5639
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  1. Orley Ashenfelter & David Card, 1984. "Using the Longitudinal Structure of Earnings to Estimate the Effect of Training Programs," NBER Working Papers 1489, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Bloom, Nicholas & Eifert, Benn & Mahajan, Aprajit & McKenzie, David & Roberts, John, 2010. "Does Management Matter?: Evidence from India," Research Papers 2074, Stanford University, Graduate School of Business.
  3. Zwane, A. P. & Zinman, J. & Van Dusen, E. & Pariente, W. & Null, C. & Miguel, E. & Kremer, Michael R. & Karlan, D. S. & Hornbeck, Richard A. & Gine, X. & Duflo, E. & Devoto, F. & Crepon, B. & Banerjee, 2011. "Being Surveyed Can Change Later Behavior and Related Parameter Estimates," Scholarly Articles 11339433, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  4. Fafchamps, Marcel; McKenzie; Quinn, Simon; Woodruff, Christopher, 2011. "When is capital enough to get female microenterprises growing? Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," CAGE Online Working Paper Series 50, Competitive Advantage in the Global Economy (CAGE).
  5. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim, 2009. "Non-Classical Measurement Error in Long-Term Retrospective Recall Surveys," CIRJE F-Series CIRJE-F-658, CIRJE, Faculty of Economics, University of Tokyo.
  6. Dean Karlan & Martin Valdivia, 2011. "Teaching Entrepreneurship: Impact of Business Training on Microfinance Clients and Institutions," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 93(2), pages 510-527, May.
  7. Andrabi, Tahir & Das, Jishnu & Khwaja, Asim Ijaz & Zajonc, Tristan, 2009. "Do value-added estimates add value ? accounting for learning dynamics," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5066, The World Bank.
  8. Marcel Fafchamps & David McKenzie & Simon Quinn & Christopher Woodruff, 2010. "Using PDA consistency checks to increase the precision of profits and sales measurement in panels," CSAE Working Paper Series 2010-19, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  9. Paul Glewwe & Michael Kremer & Sylvie Moulin & Eric Zitzewitz, 2004. "Retrospective vs. prospective analyses of school inputs: The case of flip charts in kenya," Natural Field Experiments 00256, The Field Experiments Website.
  10. Banerjee, Abhijit & Cole, Shawn & Duflo, Esther & Linden, Leigh, 2006. "Remedying Education: Evidence from Two Randomized Experiments in India," CEPR Discussion Papers 5446, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Wooldridge, Jeffrey M. & Imbens, Guido, 2009. "Recent Developments in the Econometrics of Program Evaluation," Scholarly Articles 3043416, Harvard University Department of Economics.
  12. Jishnu Das & Stefan Dercon & James Habyarimana & Pramila Krishnan, 2004. "Teacher Shocks and Student Learning: Evidence from Zambia," CSAE Working Paper Series 2004-26, Centre for the Study of African Economies, University of Oxford.
  13. Suresh de Mel & David McKenzie & Christopher Woodruff, 2008. "Returns to Capital in Microenterprises: Evidence from a Field Experiment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 123(4), pages 1329-1372.
  14. Miriam Bruhn & David McKenzie, 2009. "In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments," American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, American Economic Association, vol. 1(4), pages 200-232, October.
  15. McKenzie, David J, 2004. "Aggregate Shocks and Urban Labor Market Responses: Evidence from Argentina's Financial Crisis," Economic Development and Cultural Change, University of Chicago Press, vol. 52(4), pages 719-758, July.
  16. Michael Woolcock, 2009. "Towards a Plurality of Methods in Project Evaluation: A Contextualised Approach to Understanding Impact Trajectories and Efficacy," Brooks World Poverty Institute Working Paper Series 7309, BWPI, The University of Manchester.
  17. Duflo, Esther & Glennerster, Rachel & Kremer, Michael, 2007. "Using Randomization in Development Economics Research: A Toolkit," CEPR Discussion Papers 6059, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  18. Fafchamps, Marcel & McKenzie, David & Quinn, Simon & Woodruff, Christopher, 2014. "Microenterprise growth and the flypaper effect: Evidence from a randomized experiment in Ghana," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 106(C), pages 211-226.
  19. Gibson, John & Huang, Jikun & Rozelle, Scott, 2001. "Improving Estimates Of Inequality And Poverty From Urban China'S Household Income And Expenditure Survey," Working Papers 11989, University of California, Davis, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.
  20. de Mel, Suresh & McKenzie, David J. & Woodruff, Christopher, 2009. "Measuring microenterprise profits: Must we ask how the sausage is made?," Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 88(1), pages 19-31, January.
  21. Karlan, Dean S. & Zinman, Jonathan, 2009. "Expanding Microenterprise Credit Access: Using Randomized Supply Decisions to Estimate the Impacts in Manila," CEPR Discussion Papers 7396, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  22. Bruhn, Miriam, 2008. "License to sell : the effect of business registration reform on entrepreneurial activity in Mexico," Policy Research Working Paper Series 4538, The World Bank.
  23. 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.
  24. John Gibson & David McKenzie, 2014. "The Development Impact of a Best Practice Seasonal Worker Policy," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 96(2), pages 229-243, May.
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