The legacy of an RCT

She had been following us for hours. Survey after survey, a steady shadow that dogged our steps despite the mid-day heat, at the height of the Delhi summer. “Didi, why are you here?” we finally asked. “Survey me as well” she answered.

She wasn’t one of our randomly selected respondents. The survey was long, almost two hours, and we normally had to beg respondents to take it, not fend them off. “Didi, why do you want to be surveyed?” we asked. Her answer was garbled with her passion but with some help from her neighbors, we finally got the story.

A couple of years ago, another set of researchers had visited and administered surveys. Like us, they were randomly choosing respondents. But unlike us, it was for the baseline of Randomized Control Trial where the selected respondents were given monetary and technical help to construct houses. She hadn’t been selected, but her neighbors had. And she had watched over the years, as they built their fancy homes while she was forced to live in her shack. Determined not to be omitted from a survey again, she now makes sure that surveyors include her.

 

CARPE DATUM

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