A new study using 1,419 micro-finance NGOs as subjects created two treatment groups.
In the positive treatment subjects were randomly assigned to receive a summary of a study by prominent authors finding that microcredit is effective. The negative treatment provided information on research – by the same authors using a very similar design – reporting the ineffectiveness of microcredit. We compare both conditions to a control in which no studies were cited.
The positive treatment elicited twice as many responses as the negative treatment – and significantly more acceptances of our invitation to consider partnering on an evaluation of their program.
The authors point out that the Randomized Evaluation revolution has a missing step:
the willingness of organizations to update based on scientific information has been assumed and not established.
Or as Lant Pritchett suggested in a paper a decade ago: “It Pays to Be Ignorant“
UPDATE: see Chris Blattman take on the same paper today here.