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Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide

by Rachel Glennerster and Kudzai Takavarasha Princeton University Press
Pub Date:
Pbk 480 pages
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This book provides a comprehensive yet accessible guide to running randomized impact evaluations of social programs. Drawing on the experience of researchers at the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which has run hundreds of such evaluations in dozens of countries throughout the world, it offers practical insights on how to use this powerful technique, especially in resource-poor environments. This step-by-step guide explains why and when randomized evaluations are useful, in what situations they should be used, and how to prioritize different evaluation opportunities. It shows how to design and analyze studies that answer important questions while respecting the constraints of those working on and benefiting from the program being evaluated. The book gives concrete tips on issues such as improving the quality of a study despite tight budget constraints, and demonstrates how the results of randomized impact evaluations can inform policy. With its self-contained modules, this one-of-a-kind guide is easy to navigate. It also includes invaluable references and a checklist of the common pitfalls to avoid. Provides the most up-to-date guide to running randomized evaluations of social programs, especially in developing countries. Offers practical tips on how to complete high-quality studies in even the most challenging environmentsSelf-contained modules allow for easy reference and flexible teaching and learningComprehensive yet nontechnical

Preface vii

Abbreviations and Acronyms ix

1 The Experimental Approach 1

2 Why Randomize? 24

3 Asking the Right Questions 66

4 Randomizing 98

5 Outcomes and Instruments 180

6 Statistical Power 241

7 Threats 298

8 Analysis 324

9 Drawing Policy Lessons 386

Appendix 421

Glossary 443

Index 453

"Impact evaluation is a key resource for improving development effectiveness, yet until now it was inaccessible to people'policymakers, NGO staff, and development professionals of all kinds. Oftentimes, we get stuck in the theoretical discourse and philosophical debate and miss the chance to talk about the practical toolkit needed to actually do impact evaluation. Running Randomized Evaluations will significantly contribute to accelerate advancements in the field by making the tools of the trade accessible and user-friendly. This is a must-read guide for policymakers, practitioners, and donors alike."'Jodi Nelson, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Rachel Glennerster is executive director of the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Kudzai Takavarasha holds degrees in chemical engineering and economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and was a policy manager at J-PAL from 2004 to 2012.