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Microcredit RCTs in Development: Miracle or Mirage?

Florent Bédécarrats, Isabelle Guérin and François Roubaud

No DT/2019/13, Working Papers from DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation)

Abstract: Microcredit has long stood as a flagship topic for RCTs in development, starting with the publication of a special issue in a leading economics journal on six RCTs conducted in different world regions. This special issue was hailed as the first rigorous and conceivably definitive study on the impacts of microcredit. However, a detailed exploration of the implementation of these six RCTs reveals many limitations with respect to internal and external validity, ethics and interpretation. This paper uses analytical tools from statistics, political economy and development anthropology to discuss the extent to which the entire RCT chain strays from the ideal RCT principles (from sampling, data collection, data entry and recoding, estimates and interpretation to publication and dissemination of results). It also raises questions about the disparity between the academic and political success of this special issue and the many inconsistencies of method.

Keywords: Randomized Control Trial (RCT); Microcredit; Developing countries; Internal validity; External validity; Statistics; Development anthropology; Political economy; Ethics. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: A11 A14 B41 C18 C93 N27 O16 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Pages: 39 pages
Date: 2019-12
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-dev, nep-mfd and nep-ore
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Working Paper: Microcredit RCTs in development: miracle or mirage ? (2019)
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