I just published a new article in the Review of Political Economy, “Nobel Rebels in Disguise — Assessing the Rise and Rule of the Randomistas,” which assesses the theoretical and empirical foundations of the use of randomised control trials in Economics, and its impact on policy debates in development economics and in the aid industry.
Here’s the abstract:
Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer were awarded the 2019 Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel for their pioneering of randomized control trials (RCTs) to find reliable answers about the best ways to fight global poverty. This article unpacks the laureates’ theoretical and methodological approach to development economics in order to evaluate to what extent their approach signifies a break from broader trends in the field. In particular, it investigates the role RCTs have played in both generating knowledge about development interventions and in shaping development policy debates more broadly. Finally, the article argues that despite their rebellious and radical façade, the randomista enterprise has led to a more exclusive development economics, while at the same time failing to improve our ability to fight poverty.