The great RCT bubble of 2013?

Check out this awesome blogpost where Lant Pritchett cogently argues that Randomized Control Trials are nearing “peak hype”:

 I think there is little question that randomized techniques were underutilized in development practice and research in 1993.  I also think there is little question that in 2013 RCTs are now in an overvaluation bubble and nearing the Peak of Inflated Expectations.  (Of course one of the true signs of the peak of a bubble is the increasing vehemence with which people who invested their financial and human capital into the bubble deny that it is a bubble).    

At a World Bank Symposium on Assessment for Global Learning  last week Jishnu Das estimated there are in the neighborhood of 500 evaluations of education interventions underway at a cost of between 200K and 500K each.  Assuming a typical cost of 300K this is $150 million dollars being spent on RCTs in just one field of development.  It is hard to make the case that, of all things that could be spent on to improve global education this is the right allocation.  In fact it is impossible to make the case with evidence.  One of the bemusing ironies of the RCT fad as a component of “evidence based policy” movement is that its advocacy has been evidence free. 

The full post is self-recommending.

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