I was thrilled that Angus Deaton won the Nobel prize. Nobody in development economics had won in a very long time, and Deaton’s prize was very well-deserved. An embarrassing personal anecdote should help illustrate: back when I was applying to grad school, I was astonished to find that he was still at Princeton because I assumed that with the large amount of work he had put out, he must be a mythical figure long since deceased.
More recently, he has gotten a lot of attention for his skepticism of randomized controlled trials. I am very familiar with the debate, especially due to my controversial paper which found a lot of heterogeneity in treatment effects – essentially bringing a lot of data to the debate.
I think that the point that Deaton was making was more nuanced than how it is often described and applies to quasi-experimental studies as well as randomized controlled trials: that we should simply be more modest in our claims about what we know.
This is very honest, and I think in the long run we will look back and wonder why there was ever any controversy over such a claim.