COVID-19 and the Role of RCTs in Development

  • DATE / TIME:
    2020•11•10    16:00 - 17:15

    This UNU-WIDER seminar is the launch event for a new book, published by Oxford University Press, on the role of randomised control trials (RCT) in development. It features two of the book’s co-editors: François Roubaud and Isabelle Guérin.

    In October 2019, Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo, and Michael Kremer jointly won the 51st Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel “for their experimental approach to alleviating global poverty.” But what is the exact scope of their experimental method, known as randomized control trials (RCTs)? Which sorts of questions are RCTs able to address, and which do they fail to answer?

    The just-published edited volume Randomized Control Trials in the Field of Development: A Critical Perspective explains how RCTs work, what they can achieve, why they sometimes fail, how they can be improved, and why other methods are both useful and necessary. The book includes contributions from specialists with a range of backgrounds and disciplines; it gives voice to contrasting opinions, and  shows that RCTs have much more limited potential than imagined, generate various perverse effects, and raise fundamental ethical questions.

    The COVID-19 pandemic is an opportunity to test these conclusions, and address the use but also the limitations of the method.

    For more, or to register to attend, see the event announcement on the UNU-WIDER website.