Ideas to Action:

Independent research for global prosperity

Views from the Center

CGD experts offer ideas and analysis to improve international development policy. Also check out our Global Health blog and US Development Policy blog.

 

The R-Word Is Not Dirty

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) have been used to demonstrate the effectiveness of development interventions from cash transfers to tutoring. They are one of many tools used to evaluate policies, products, and services around the world.

RCTs in Development, Lessons from the Hype Cycle

Last month, I was on my way to speak at an IDB sponsored conference on evaluation.  Getting on the shuttle to DC I bumped into a friend of mine who is the head of a technology related company.   On the plane I was telling him I was on my way to talk about the fad of doing RCTs in my field of development.  He told me he had a great slide from the tech consulting company Gartner about the “Hype Cycle” in tech industries.  As you see, this wonderful graphic shows a typical cycle of a tech idea or tech

Nicholas Kristof and Aid

I am a big admirer of Nick Kristof, of the passion and concern that animate his books and columns, and of the must-do-can-do spirit that they embody. But sometimes his soft heart gets ahead of the hard head, leading to misleading and intellectually insupportable advocacy of foreign aid. A good example is today’s column.

On RCTs and Impact Evaluation

Our former postdoc Chris Blattman has terrific advice for aspiring graduate students wondering if they should get into the business (via a Ph.D) of impact evaluation via randomized controlled trials (RCTs) -- RCTs have apparently become all the rage. For development aficionados an RCT-based Ph.D. has many benefits: field work in exotic settings, a rationale for doing applied empirical work while also being visibly rigorous and scientific (!) and apparently, a straightforward path to a journal publication.

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