In this post, Sneha P discusses when RCTs are appropriate for informing decision-making in policy, in the Indian context.
"RCTs also tend to adopt a ‘data-maximalist approach’ in research design wherein participants are expected to share extensive personal information and – in some cases – bodily samples, in order to explore all possible channels of impact.
In other cases, the human cost of such a time-intensive methodological choice is more serious. In 2016, the state government of Jharkhand mandated Aadhaar-based biometric authentication (ABBA) for receiving public distribution system (PDS) entitlements. In partnership with the government, a large-scale RCT was initiated to evaluate 6-8 months of mandated ABBA in 132 blocks of the state. During this phase, households could not opt out of ABBA, and there were no alternative arrangements for them to access their entitlements. This is despite there being early journalistic evidence of authentication failures and even instances of starvation. ABBA also does not solve the problem of quantity fraud, which is arguably a more serious issue than identity fraud in the PDS (Drèze 2016)."
Read the full article here.