In praise of natural experiments

The experimental turn in economics

Randomized control trials (RCTs) are all the rage at the moment in economics and, increasingly, in the analysis and even formation of public policy. In the world of development economics, in particular, the turn away from conventional empirical methods—the analysis of existing data sets using classical statistical techniques—towards designing RCTs has been pioneered, among others, by economists such as Indian-born Abhijit Banerjee and French-born Esther Duflo, both professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. ….[READ]

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