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In an emerging economy, the (nominal) hourly rates can be as follows:

  • RCT data enumeration (including management): $1/hour
  • Data cleaning and categorization: $3/hour
    • Considering PPP, that is about $10/hour for data entry work

Survey design and analysis can be for an average of $50/hour.


I am assuming that the per survey times are

  • 30 minutes to collect data
  • 3 minutes to clean and categorize data

and that it takes 200 personhours to design surveys and analyze data.


Then, for a study of 5,000 units which involves baseline, midline, and endline data collection, the cost should be

  • $7,500 to collect data
  • $2,250 to clean and categorize data
  • $10,000 to design surveys and analyze data

This totals $19,975 per study.

Innovations for Poverty action charges millions (e. g. $1.5 million) per RCT. This is about 75× higher cost than calculated above.


If RCTs should be used at a large scale to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of systemic change interventions or their parts, then they should be affordable to medium-sized NGOs. Thus, it may be valuable to the global community to find an affordable RCT research organization.


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I believe I had a chat with an EA group at Harvard who said they were doing exactly this. I seem to remember thinking that it would be valuable for RCTs to be made available to NGOs more cheaply. If I remember correctly, this was the group:


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