Economics serving society

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The summer school covers the main questions raised by conducting field work in developing countries, from survey and experiment design, to tackling measurement and ethical challenges, as well as troubleshooting in the field.


  • Survey questionnaire design (Sylvie Lambert, 4.5 hours)
  • Designing and implementing experiments (Karen Macours, 4.5 hours)
  • Designing and implementing lab in the field experiments (Suanna Oh, 4.5 hours)
  • Measurement issues (Karen Macours and Denis Cogneau, 4.5 hours)
  • Collecting and using administrative data (Oliver Vanden Eynde, 1.5 hours
  • Ethics (Sylvie Lambert, 3 hours)
  • Use of qualitative field work (Guest speaker: Monica Biradavolu, QualAnalytics, 1.5 hours)
  • Conducting evaluation in a development bank (Guest speaker: Pierre Bachas, World Bank, 1.5 hours)

Team work and personal projects :

Team work sessions will be organized to explore measurement (2 sessions) and ethic (1 session) in a participatory way.

Two sessions will be dedicated to discussing participants personal projects.

One session will explore practical problems on the field and how to face them.

Survey questionnaire design – Sylvie Lambert (4.5 hours)

A well-designed questionnaire is an essential piece of most field work. The objective of this module is to offer guidance for household survey questionnaire design. It will address the use of qualitative survey to insure the questionnaire will meet the research objectives, the role of carefully formulated questions to avoid introducing biases, as both framing and wording influence answers. This will be exemplified mainly through the design of the household roster and the consumption module.


  • Choice of respondent, choice of wording: general principles.
  • Household composition: complex households
  • Consumption module: misreporting, recall errors, rounding, telescoping…
  • Sensitive issues
  • Informing questionnaire design with qualitative field work.

Selected key references
- Beegle, Kathleen & De Weerdt, Joachim & Friedman, Jed & Gibson, John, (2012), “Methods of household consumption measurement through surveys: Experimental results from Tanzania,” Journal of Development Economics, Elsevier, vol. 98(1), pages 3-18.

- De Vreyer, Philippe and Sylvie Lambert, (2021), “Inequality, poverty and the intra-household allocation of consumption in Senegal”, World Bank Economic Review, 2021, issue 2, vol 35.

- Deschenes Sarah, (2022), Using List Experiments to Measure Intimate Partner Violence (IPV): Lessons from Rural Burkina Faso, mimeo.

- Grosh, Margaret; Glewwe, Paul, (2000), Designing Household Survey Questionnaires for Developing Countries : Lessons from 15 Years of the Living Standards Measurement Study. Washington, DC: World Bank.

Designing and implementing experiments - Karen Macours (4.5 hours)

This module will focus on advanced methodological as well as practical skills related to designing and implementing randomized control trials in field settings in low and middle income countries. A first lecture will focus on design trade-offs and considerations for RCTs with different objectives, building on practical examples from different sub-fields of development economics. The second lecture will start from the importance of developing a detailed theory-of-change of the randomized intervention from the start, and to use it to inform what, how and when to measure the different intermediate and final outcomes. The third lecture will zoom in on conceptual and practical considerations for power calculations.


  • Design trade-offs and considerations for RCTs
  • Theory of change
  • Power calculations: conceptual and practical considerations.

Selected key references
- Athey, Susan, and Guido W. Imbens, (2017), “The Econometrics of Randomized Experiments.” Banerjee, A. and E. Duflo, (eds.), Handbook of Economic Field Experiments. Volume 1. Elsevier.

- Bruhn, Miriam and David McKenzie, (2009), “In Pursuit of Balance: Randomization in Practice in Development Field Experiments”, American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 1(4): 200-232.

- Glennerster, Rachel and Takavarasha, Kudzai, (2013), Running Randomized Evaluations: A Practical Guide, Princeton University Press.

Lab-in-the-Field Experiments – Suanna Oh (4.5 hours)

The goal of this module is to offer an introduction to lab-in-the-field experiments and how they are used in behavioral development. We first discuss the types of questions that can be effectively studied using lab-in-the-field experiments. We cover studies that involve setting up a simple firm to be used as a laboratory to understand the behavior of workers in rural labor markets. We also look at studies that partner with existing firms or schools to use the real-life institution as a laboratory. Finally, we consider projects that involve designing and engaging individuals in experimental games to understand their decision-making processes.


  • Basics of lab-in-the-field experiments
  • Setting up a mini-firm to study worker behaviors
  • Using firms or schools as laboratories
  • Designing experimental games and tasks

Selected key references
- Ashraf, Nava, Natalie Bau, Corinne Low, and Kathleen McGinn, “Negotiating a Better Future: How Interpersonal Skills Facilitate Intergenerational Investment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, (2020), 135 (2): 1095-1151.

- Breza, Emily and Arun G. Chandrasekhar, “Social networks, reputation, and commitment: evidence from a savings monitors experiment," Econometrica, (2019), 87 (1), 175-216.

- Kaur, Supreet, Sendhil Mullainathan, Suanna Oh, and Frank Schilbach, (2022) “Do Financial Concerns Make Workers Less Productive?," mimeo.

- Lowe, Matt, (2021), “Types of contact: A field experiment on collaborative and adversarial caste integration." American Economic Review, 111 (6): 1807-44.

- Oh, Suanna, (2022), “Does Identity Affect Labor Supply?,” mimeo.

- Rao, Gautam, (2019), “Familiarity Does Not Breed Contempt: Diversity, Discrimination and Generality in Delhi Schools,” American Economic Review, 109 (3), 774-809.

Measurement issues - Karen Macours and Denis Cogneau (4.5 hours)

Part 1: Karen Macours (1.5 hours)
Measurement experiments: This module will provide an overview of experimental methods to use to validate measures of “hard-to-measure” outcomes, starting from an overview of the advances in measurement made using measurement experiments in various sub-fields of development economics, and discussing the statistical tools for analysis of such experiments, and opening up towards new topics with open measurement questions.

Part 2 : Denis Cogneau (3 hours)
Building on personal teaching experience, Denis Cogneau will organize playful team works around important issues for the measurement of development outcomes like welfare, income inequality, health, or education. These issues will include concepts, axiomatics, quality control, and sampling.

Collecting and using administrative data - Oliver Vanden Eynde (1.5 hours)

Data on the implementation of government programmes or policies are extremely valuable sources of information for development economists. This module explains how such data can be collected, how they can be digitized if necessary, which challenges administrative data may present in terms of quality, and how they can be matched to other data sources. The module will illustrate these topics on the basis of recent work in development economics that relies on administrative data.


  • Collecting “primary” administrative data: official requests, scraping online data
  • Digitization of archival sources
  • Data reliability
  • Matching administrative data

Selected key references
- Dokeniya, A. Implementing Right to Information: lessons from experience, (2013), The World Bank, Washington.

- Lehne, Jonathan, Jacob Shapiro, and Oliver Vanden Eynde, (2018), “Building connections: Political corruption and road construction in India” , Journal of Development Economics, Vol.131.

- Kuhn, Patrick, Alexander Moradi, Oliver Vanden Eynde, (2018), American Economic Journal: Economic Policy. “Trickle-down Ethnic Politics: Drunk and Absent in the Kenya Police Force (1957-1970)

- Vanden Eynde, Oliver, and Liam Wren-Lewis, (2020), “Complementarities in Infrastructure: Evidence from Rural India

Ethics - Sylvie Lambert (3 hours)

A first session will be dedicated to the presentation of ethical principles guiding field work and RCT, the identification of risks for the subjects and best practices to limit those risks, and to IRB application. A teamwork session will give the opportunity to analyse and discuss practical cases.

Selected key references
2 chapters from The Oxford Handbook on Professional Economic Ethics
- Glennerster and Powers, (2013), Balancing Risk and Benefit: Ethical Tradeoffs in Running Randomized Evaluations
- Alderman, Das, and Rao, (2016), Conducting Ethical Economic Research: Complications from the Field

Use of qualitative field work - Guest speaker - Monica Biradavolu (QualAnalytics) (1.5 hours)

This lecture will focus on the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods for improving measurement and analysis in development economics, starting from concrete examples of how a combination of qualitative interviewing and machine learning improved quantitative methods to be integrated at scale in household level surveys and going to the optimal combination and triangulation between qualitative and quantitative methods to maximize learnings of empirical micro-development analysis

Conducting evaluation in a development bank - Guest speaker – Pierre Bachas (World Bank) (1.5 hours)

Based on his experience at the World Bank’s Research Department, Pierre Bachas will discuss how public policy evaluation and working with government agencies is conducted in a large multilateral institution.
He will also discuss the type of work and research being conducted at the World Bank, and the work opportunities and career path in international institutions.

Contents - Development economics in the field