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Ethical Validity Response #2: Is random assignment really that unacceptable or uncommon?

David McKenzie's picture
In his post this week on ethical validity in research, Martin Ravallion writes:
 “Scaled-up programs almost never use randomized assignment so the RCT has a different assignment mechanism, and this may be contested ethically even when the full program is fine.”

Lotteries aren’t so exotic

Taking Ethics Seriously: Response #1

Berk Ozler's picture
Yesterday, Martin Ravallion wrote a piece titled ‘Taking Ethical Validity Seriously.’ It focused on ethically contestable evaluations and used RCTs as the main (only?) example of such evaluations. It is a good piece: researchers can always benefit from questioning themselves and their work in different ways.

Taking Ethical Validity Seriously

Martin Ravallion's picture
More thought has been given to the validity of the conclusions drawn from development impact evaluations than to the ethical validity of how the evaluations were done. This is not an issue for all evaluations. Sometimes an impact evaluation is built into an existing program such that nothing changes about how the program works. The evaluation takes as given the way the program assigns its benefits. So if the program is deemed to be ethically acceptable then this can be presumed to also hold for the method of evaluation.

Keeping it “real” in real-time evaluations: Guest post by Florence Kondylis and Maria Jones

Carrying out evaluations to affect policy is the big motivation of many development economists. Usually, grant proposals and such will ask researchers to document “How will your results affect policy?”. In this post, we address a corollary of that problem statement: “when and how should your results affect policy?”. All the work that goes into the evaluation design at the start drums up a lot of enthusiasm among policymakers, and may open windows of opportunity for policy influence long before the final results from the evaluation are available.

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