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The method of randomization and the role of reasoned intuition

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  • Basu, Kaushik

Abstract

The method of randomization has been a major driver in the recent rise to prominence of empirical development economics. It has helped uncover patterns and facts that had earlier escaped attention. But it has also given rise to debate and controversy. This paper evaluates the method of randomization and concludes that, while the method of randomization is the gold standard for description, and does uncover what is here called'circumstantial causality,'it is not able to demonstrate generalized causality. Nor does it, in itself, lead to policy conclusions, as is often claimed by its advocates. To get to policy conclusions requires combining the findings of randomized experiments with human intuition, which, being founded in evolution, has innate strengths. Moreover, even non-randomized empirical methods combined with reasoned intuition can help in crafting development policy.

Suggested Citation

  • Basu, Kaushik, 2013. "The method of randomization and the role of reasoned intuition," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6722, The World Bank.
  • Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6722
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Angus Deaton, 2010. "Instruments, Randomization, and Learning about Development," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 48(2), pages 424-455, June.
    2. James Habyarimana & William Jack, 2012. "State vs Consumer Regulation: An Evaluation of Two Road Safety Interventions in Kenya," NBER Working Papers 18378, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    3. James J. Heckman & Jeffrey A. Smith, 1995. "Assessing the Case for Social Experiments," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(2), pages 85-110, Spring.
    4. Hoover,Kevin D., 2001. "Causality in Macroeconomics," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521002882, April.
    5. repec:pri:rpdevs:deaton_instruments_randomization_learning_all_04april_2010 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. John Ifcher & Homa Zarghamee, 2011. "Happiness and Time Preference: The Effect of Positive Affect in a Random-Assignment Experiment," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(7), pages 3109-3129, December.
    7. 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, September.
    8. Basu, Kaushik, 2003. "Prelude to Political Economy: A Study of the Social and Political Foundations of Economics," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199261857.
    9. 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.
    10. Abhijit V. Banerjee & Esther Duflo, 2009. "The Experimental Approach to Development Economics," Annual Review of Economics, Annual Reviews, vol. 1(1), pages 151-178, May.
    11. Manski, Charles F., 2013. "Public Policy in an Uncertain World: Analysis and Decisions," Economics Books, Harvard University Press, number 9780674066892, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Bamberger, Michael & Tarsilla, Michele & Hesse-Biber, Sharlene, 2016. "Why so many “rigorous” evaluations fail to identify unintended consequences of development programs: How mixed methods can contribute," Evaluation and Program Planning, Elsevier, vol. 55(C), pages 155-162.

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    Keywords

    Population Policies; Knowledge for Development; Educational Sciences; Economic Theory&Research; Agricultural Knowledge and Information Systems;

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