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American Economic Journal: Applied Economics: Vol. 1 No. 4 (October 2009)

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In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments

Article Citation

Bruhn, Miriam, and David McKenzie. 2009. "In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments." American Economic Journal: Applied Economics, 1(4): 200-232.

DOI: 10.1257/app.1.4.200

Abstract

We present new evidence on the randomization methods used in existing experiments, and new simulations comparing these methods. We find that many papers do not describe the randomization in detail, implying that better reporting is needed. Our simulations suggest that in samples of 300 or more, the different methods perform similarly. However, for very persistent outcome variables, and in smaller samples, pair-wise matching and stratification perform best and appear to dominate the rerandomization methods commonly used in practice. The simulations also point to specific recommendations for which variables to balance on, and for which controls to include in the ex post analysis. (JEL C83, C93, O12)

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Authors

Bruhn, Miriam (World Bank)
McKenzie, David (World Bank)

JEL Classifications

C83: Survey Methods; Sampling Methods
C93: Field Experiments
O12: Microeconomic Analyses of Economic Development

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