Evidence Based Policies of Economic and Political Development

Course Number: 
GAFL 530


  • Fall 2017
Course Format: 
On-Campus Day(s): 
On-Campus Time: 
Course Description: 

This class provides a "hands-on" introduction to the promises and limitations of using Randomized Control Trials (RCTs) to inform policy makers, practitioners, and academics of the conditions under which policies likely would have a positive effect on economic and political outcomes, in the context of international development. This course has three parts: the first is devoted to understanding the "nuts and bolts" of running field experiments / RCTs in developing countries. In part, we will be reading Glennester and Takavarasha's Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide. In addition, we will discuss core behavioral concepts from both behavioral economics and social psychology (prospect theory). The second part of the course will be devoted to demonstrating how schools have used RCTs to inform core policy debates (e.g. What are some effective ways to reduce corruption? How can we improve the performance of frontline service providers? How can politicians be more responsive to their constituents?) In the third part, students will be presenting their own research proposals, explicitly designed to address either a core policy question in the developing world or--for those interested--in the USA. Here students will have an opportunity to partner with the Social and Behavioral Sciences Team (, which is under the National Science and Technology Council.

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Contact Information

Fels Institute of Government
University of Pennsylvania
3814 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: (215) 898-2600
Fax: (215) 746-2829