nep-sog New Economics Papers
on Sociology of Economics
Issue of 2024‒04‒29
one paper chosen by
Jonas Holmström, Axventure AB

  1. Good times, hard times: les expériences randomisées pour le développement au temps du Covid-19 et au-delà By Florent Bédécarrats; Isabelle Guérin; François Roubaud; Mireille Razafindrakoto

  1. By: Florent Bédécarrats (IRD, UMI SOURCE); Isabelle Guérin (IRD, CESSMA (Paris, France), IFP (Pondicherry, India)); François Roubaud (DIAL-LEDa, IRD, Université Paris-Dauphine, PSL Université); Mireille Razafindrakoto (DIAL-LEDa, IRD, Université Paris-Dauphine, PSL Université)
    Abstract: For around twenty years, Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) have been considered the gold standard of causal attribution and have gradually acquired a dominant position in the method of administering proof in the field of development. This domination, supported by a powerful pro-RCT movement, was crowned by the obtention of various positions of power and the awarding of numerous distinctions, including the Nobel Prize in Economics in 2019 to three of its tutelary figures, praised for their contribution to the fight against poverty. Since then, the Covid-19 pandemic hit the world as the biggest global poverty shock in decades. This article questions the role played by RCTs in the policies implemented to fight the health crisis. The 1st section examines the contribution of RCTs to health policies. The 2nd focuses on what randomists did during the period, and pays particular attention to the growing importance of nudges. The 3rd concerns the contribution of RCTs to meeting the development challenges recognized as priorities by the United Nations and the scientific community during and following the pandemic. The 4th offers elements of explanation for the growing hiatus between the accentuation of the domination of RCTs and their marginal contribution to mitigate the pandemic effects, shown by the previous sections, in particular by developing the concept of “scientific populism”. To our knowledge, this paper constitutes the first critical synthesis of RCTs and related issues in times of Covid-19 and beyond.
    Keywords: Covid-19, Development; Experimental method, Impact evaluation; Political economy; Poverty; Randomised control trials; SDG; Scientific populism; Développement; Economie politique; Evaluation d’impact; Méthode expérimentale; ODD; Nudge; Pauvreté; Populisme scientifique
    JEL: A11 B41 C18 C93 D72 O10
    Date: 2024–03

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