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The Role of Randomization in Development Research: A Book Review of “Randomized Control Trials in the Field of Development”

Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are, at this point, a well-established part of the development research toolkit. Yet policymakers, researchers, and others still debate how best to learn from RCTs, what they can teach us (and what they can’t), what ethical challenges they bring, and how big a part of that toolkit they should be. Late last year, Bédécarrats, Guérin, and Roubaud edited a 450-page volume on the topic—Randomized Control Trials in the Field of Development: A Critical Perspective. Here’s my take, published in the journal Population and Development Review a few days ago.