Randomized Controlled Trial(RCT)

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News:The three Nobel laureates Abhijit Banerjee, Esther Duflo and Michael Kremer are considered to be instrumental in using randomised controlled trials to test the effectiveness of various policy interventions to alleviate poverty.

Facts:

About Randomised Control trial(RCT):

  • A Randomised Control trial is an experiment that is designed to isolate the influence that a certain intervention or variable has on an outcome or event.

How does RCT works?

  • A social science researcher who wants to find the effect that employing more teachers in schools has on children’s learning outcomes can conduct a randomized controlled trial to find the answer.
  • The RCT method says that any point in time,there are multiple factors that work in tandem to influence various social events.
  • For instance, to measure the impact that hiring more teachers can have on children’s learning,researchers must control for the effect that other factors such as intelligence, nutrition, climate, economic and social status etc.
  • RCTs promise to overcome this problem through the use of randomly picked samples.
  • Using these random samples,researchers can then conduct experiments by carefully varying appropriate variables to find out the impact of these individual variables on the final event.

Criticism of the Trial:

  • Critics have argued that an over-reliance on RCT-based research turns questions of poverty into bite-sized problems with a focus on correcting individual behaviour instead of grappling with the larger, systemic issues at hand.
  • Further,a popular critic of randomized controlled trials is economist Angus Deaton who won the economics Nobel Prize in 2015.
  • He had said that simply choosing samples for an RCT experiment in a random manner does not really make these samples identical in their many characteristics.