propose an RFT field trial (randomized field trial) to answer an important question about microfinance

Length: About a page to a page and a half single-spaced, and no more than two pages (single-spaced).

Your task is to propose an RFT field trial (randomized field trial) to answer an important question about microfinance. By “important question,” I mean a debate/issue that: 1) comes up in our course materials for this topic (be careful here: the assignment is specifically about microfinance, not evidence-based aid); 2) has not been adequately answered by any research discussed in those documents (“adequately answered” means subject to a high quality study that would be placed near the top of the ladder of evidence).

You should do four things in your proposal. These can be covered in four separate paragraphs or in four bullet-pointed paragraphs. The four are:

Motivation: why would a study on your research question be interesting / important? Why do we need to know the answer to this question?

Outcome of interest: we can never record all the possible outcomes/effects of a treatment (too expensive and/or time consuming, and some things cannot be measured). What is the most important one that you want to measure – what is your primary outcome of interest? What are two or three (but not more) additional things you would like to measure? Please note: be realistic here. You must suggest things that an actual study could measure! Feasibility will be a criterion used to allocate funds in the next assignment.

Location: Where will your proposed study be conducted? Why is that place a good location? Again, consider feasibility.

Assignment to treatment strategy: What is your strategy for assigning units of observation to the treatment group(s) in a way that cuts through the various obstacles to drawing causal inferences in the social sciences? Be precise here. Be sure to explain:

  • The challenges to drawing causal inference about your question that would plague observational studies, and;
  • How your RFT proposal overcomes (hopefully) those challenges.

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550 words
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