Randomised Controlled Trials


    In News 

    • Economist and Nobel laureate Michael R Kremer has said that for a diverse country like India Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) must be carried out at multiple sites for better analysis and to see differences across states.

    More In News 

    • RCT was heavily discussed after Kremer and fellow economists Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo won the 2019 Nobel Prize winner in Economics. 
      • They had made the use of RCT for their research on poverty.

    What are Randomised Controlled Trials(RCT) ?

    • About:
      • It is an experimental form of impact evaluation in which the population receiving the programme or policy intervention is chosen at random from the eligible population, and a control group is also chosen at random from the same eligible population. 
      • It tests the extent to which specific, planned impacts are being achieved.
      • It involves dividing a population into smaller groups, in order to comparatively see the outcomes of an external stimulus. 
        • For example, if the aim of a study is to understand whether a free grains distribution scheme helped improve the nutrition levels among people living in a district, researchers will first create two groups within the population, and then put people into those groups randomly.
        • One group (called the control group) does not receive the grains or the external stimulus, while the other group (treatment group) does. After a designated period of time, details of how both the groups are doing would be collected.
    • Significance: 
      • It helps to focus on more day-to-day answers to problems of poverty and deprivation, such as delivery of basic amenities
    • Criticism: 
      • Critics said that randomisation does not equalise two groups”, and warned against over-reliance on RCTs to frame policies.
    • There may be more women in one group, or one group may have more people having some kind of distinctiveness that affects the result. As a result, the outcomes may not give an accurate view, and the very use of a scientific experiment tool in social sciences was questioned.
    • RCT has also been criticised for reducing the study of poverty to small interventions unconnected to the lived experiences of the poor.