CEDIL Methods Brief 3

Combining economic modelling and randomised controlled trials: An unexploited synergy

During COVID-19, concepts such as a threshold ‘herd immunity’, ‘flattening the curve’, and ‘reducing the R number’ have become part of common parlance. Novel research integrating epidemiological and economic models has been used to weigh the trade-offs between lives and livelihoods. The renewed interest in modelling seen during the pandemic can be sustained in public policy and in international development.

Over the last decade, many researchers have conducted randomised trials alongside economic models. The work of these researchers has shown that both approaches are strengthened by their combined use and the conclusions they lead to are full of policy implications.

This CEDIL Methods Brief uses three examples to offer tips on the application of modelling to evaluate development interventions and explore various policy questions. It shows that models and experiments should be seen as complementary, rather than as alternative approaches.

This brief is based on the CEDIL Inception Paper No. 9, Structural Modelling in Policy Making, by Orazio Attanasio and Debbie Blair.

Suggested citation: Masset, E. 2021. ‘Combining economic modelling and randomised controlled trials: An unexploited synergy’, CEDIL Methods Brief 3. London and Oxford: Centre of Excellence for Development Impact and Learning. Available at: https://doi.org/10.51744/CMB3

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