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The Role of Randomized Field Trials in Social Science Research

The Role of Randomized Field Trials in Social Science Research One of the areas of policy research where randomized field trials have been utilized most intensively is welfare reform. Starting in the late 1960s with experimental tests of a negative income tax and continuingthrough current experimental tests of recent welfare reforms, randomized evaluations have played a strong and increasing role in informing policy. This article reviews the record of these experiments and assesses the implications of that record for the use of randomization. The review demonstrates that the usefulness of randomized field trials in the area of welfare reform has been limited by a number of weaknesses, some of which are inherent in the method and some of which result from constraints imposed by the politicalprocess. The conclusionis that randomizedfield trials have an importantbut limited role to play in future welfare reform evaluations and that it is essential that they be supplemented by nonexperimental research. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png American Behavioral Scientist SAGE

The Role of Randomized Field Trials in Social Science Research

American Behavioral Scientist , Volume 47 (5): 35 – Jan 1, 2004

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References (44)

Publisher
SAGE
Copyright
Copyright © by SAGE Publications
ISSN
0002-7642
eISSN
1552-3381
DOI
10.1177/0002764203259292
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

One of the areas of policy research where randomized field trials have been utilized most intensively is welfare reform. Starting in the late 1960s with experimental tests of a negative income tax and continuingthrough current experimental tests of recent welfare reforms, randomized evaluations have played a strong and increasing role in informing policy. This article reviews the record of these experiments and assesses the implications of that record for the use of randomization. The review demonstrates that the usefulness of randomized field trials in the area of welfare reform has been limited by a number of weaknesses, some of which are inherent in the method and some of which result from constraints imposed by the politicalprocess. The conclusionis that randomizedfield trials have an importantbut limited role to play in future welfare reform evaluations and that it is essential that they be supplemented by nonexperimental research.

Journal

American Behavioral ScientistSAGE

Published: Jan 1, 2004

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