ENSAE Paris - École d'ingénieurs pour l'économie, la data science, la finance et l'actuariat

Randomized Methods and Policy Evaluation



Département : Economics


Over the last ten years there has been an impressive effort from researchers to go in the field and examine in a concrete manner issues in development economics related to topics such as education, health, finance, employment and many others. Researchers have considered a lot of different programs designed to address a problem and measure its impact on a wide range of outcome variables using randomized control trials. This impressive amount of evidence has helped to accumulate a lot of knowledge about many issues and problem and the way to address them.
The purpose of the course is to examine some key lessons that have been obtained from this effort.  The course is based on all the knowledge that has been accumulated by the Jameel Poverty Action Lab, one of the major lab involved in this endeavor. It focuses on poverty alleviation problems that have been evaluated both in developed and developing countries. 
The course focuses on the link between economic issues related to on specific topic in poverty alleviation, the interventions designed to address the problem, the randomized evaluation that was implemented to evaluate the program and then the policy decision that were taken. It is this last link between academic knowledge that takes the form of a paper and the policy decision which is core of the course content.
It is a course which is interesting for student who are interested in how economics can be leveraged to solve economic problem in practice and how to turn research into action. 
The objective is that participants will present a topic that I have prepared. It is also that student actively participate in when a topic is presented. Active participation is therefore a key aspect of the course. 
The topics that we will consider are listed below
There is no final exam for this course. Students get their mark based on their presentation of the topic they have selected and based on their participation in the different class.


First Class: Introduction
Topic 1: The pricing and use of preventive health products
Topic 2: School attendance the unexpected effect of Deworming programs
Topic 3: External validity: how can results form ne experiment be generalized
Topic 4: Frictions in the kaloabor market
Topic 5: A star program in poverty alleviation: Targeting the Ultra Poor
Topic 6: The Promise of Microcredit
Topic 7: Conditional or unconditional cash transfers: Give Directly
Topic 8: An other issue regarding generalizability: Equilibrium effects
Topic 9: Many RCTs on a same topic how to reconcile the different results: Meta-analysis
Topic 10: A star program in teaching: Teaching at the Right Level
Topic 11: Modernization of the state


Most material used in the course can be found on the J-Pal web site: https://www.povertyactionlab.org/
or the Innovation for Poverty Action (IPAZ) web site: https://www.poverty-action.org/ 
On J-Pal website the most relevant poages are

Policy insight pages : https://www.povertyactionlab.org/policy-insights
Evidence to Policy pages: https://www.povertyactionlab.org/evidence-to-policy