It’s no accident that Indiana Jones was an archeologist, not an economist. Economists are better known for digging into data sets than digging up clues. But in recent years, a number of economists, particularly development economists, have led a revolution in the field—by going into the field.
Many of these new adventurers are motivated to better understand which new policies, philanthropic programs, or other interventions have the greatest positive impact for people in developing economies. The randomized controlled trial has become a key tool for them to compare the effects of an intervention with what would happen in the absence of such an action.