RCTs and the Status Quo: The Special Relationship

Source: EconLog
by Bryan Caplan

“In economics, Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) now stand at the pinnacle of the methodological hierarchy. ‘Natural experiments’ are a distant second. Work based on old-fashioned observational data is actually hard to publish anywhere prestigious. For many scholars, RCTs aren’t just the gold standard of research. Nothing else is even fungible. This is the Age of the Randomista. Which raises a serious problem: How can researchers address questions where no RCT is feasible? To do an RCT on national monetary policy, for example, you would have to randomly assign monetary policies to a bunch of countries. Not gonna happen.” (01/13/22)