Staff Publications

Staff Publications

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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

    Full text documents are added when available. The database is updated daily and currently holds about 240,000 items, of which 72,000 in open access.

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Record number 558321
Title Randomized interventions and “real” treatment effects : A cautionary tale and an example
Author(s) Bulte, Erwin; Falco, Salvatore Di; Lensink, Robert
Source World Development 127 (2020). - ISSN 0305-750X
Department(s) WASS
Development Economics
Publication type Non-refereed article in scientific journal
Publication year 2020
Availibility Full text available from 2022-03-01

The experimental approach has revolutionized development economics. Nonetheless, randomization cannot do everything. We discuss challenges to RCTs, paying special attention to internal validity. Randomized interventions in social sciences are not double-blind and do not, in general, hold all relevant covariates constant. Treated and untreated subjects adjust their behavior in response to treatment status. Disentangling the treatment effect into its behavioral component and the direct effect of the intervention is difficult, and implies a return to the toolkit of observational studies. This is illustrated using improved seed distribution in African farming. While standard RCTs found large treatment effects, double-blind RCTs revealed that a large share of this impact is due to farmers allocating extra effort and their best plots to the cultivation of new seeds.

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