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development impact links

Weekly links September 21: scholarship labels, designing for spillovers, does your paper have a bande dessinée version? And more...

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Weekly links September 14: stealth cash vs WASH, online job boards, income-smoothing from bridges, lowering interest rates through TA, and more...

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Weekly links September 7: summer learning, wisdom from Manski, how the same data gives many different answers, and more...

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A catch-up of some of the things that caught my attention over our break.
  • The NYTimes Upshot covers an RCT of the Illinois Wellness program, where the authors found no effect, but show that if they had used non-experimental methods, they would have concluded the program was successful.
  • Published in August, “many analysts, one data set”, highlighting how many choices are involved in even simple statistical analysis – “Twenty-nine teams involving 61 analysts used the same data set to address the same research question: whether soccer referees are more likely to give red cards to dark-skin-toned players than to light-skin-toned players. Analytic approaches varied widely across the teams, and the estimated effect sizes ranged from 0.89 to 2.93 (Mdn = 1.31) in odds-ratio units. Twenty teams (69%) found a statistically significant positive effect, and 9 teams (31%) did not observe a significant relationship. Overall, the 29 different analyses used 21 unique combinations of covariates.”
  • Video of Esther Duflo’s NBER Summer institute lecture on machine learning for empirical researchers; and of Penny Goldberg’s NBER lecture on can trade policy serve as competition policy?

Weekly links July 27: Advances in RD, better measurement, lowering prices for poop removal, and more...

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  • Matias Cattaneo and co-authors have a draft manuscript on “a practical guide to regression discontinuity designs: volume II”. This includes discussion of a lot of practical issues that can arise, such as dealing with discrete values of the running variable, multiple running variables, and geographic RDs. Stata and R code are provided throughout.
  • Great Planet Money podcast on the Poop Cartel – work Molly Lipscomb and co-authors are doing to lower prices for emptying toilets in Senegal.
  • A paper on how to improve reproducible workflow – provides an overview of different tools for different statistical software packages, as well as advice on taskflow management, naming conventions, etc.
  • J-PAL guide on measuring female empowerment
  • Reviewing a paper that you have already reviewed before? This tweet by Tatyana Deryugina offers a good suggestion of using a pdf comparison tool (she suggests draftable) to compare pdfs to see what has changed

Weekly links June 29: cash does more good things, interpreting IHS, technical assistance to banks increased credit, and more...

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Weekly links June 22: which countries are overrepresented in IEs? How many IEs have data available to replicate them? Mobile savings, and more...

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  • In the Harvard Business Review, Blumenstock, Callen and Ghani summarize their work on using nudges to get government employees to save using mobile money in Afghanistan – “Over six months, the average employee who was enrolled to save by default accumulated an extra half-month’s salary in his or her savings account, relative to employees who had to opt in”
  • An intro to R for Stata users
  • The promise and perils of listening to parents – Sharon Wolf on ongoing efforts in Ghana to improve pre-school quality, and how trying to bring parents onboard backfired.
  • In the Journal of Development Effectiveness, Sabet and Brown track the continued growth of development impact evaluations: “Though we find early evidence of a plateau in the growth rate of development impact evaluations, the number of studies published between January 2010 and September 2015 account for almost two thirds of the total evidence base”. Lots of other interesting facts, including 45% of all impact evaluations occurred in just 10 countries, with Kenya and Uganda having the most impact evaluations per million population, and Sub-Saharan Africa the most commonly represented region – perhaps something for donors to think about...

Weekly links June 15: advice, humanitarian assistance RCTs, power calcs gone wrong, the CDD debate, and more...

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Weekly links June 8: are negative income taxes toxic, marshmallows and SES, psychometric credit, p-value hate, and more...

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  • The Atlantic summarizes a new replication of the marshmallow test, “the new study finds limited support for the idea that being able to delay gratification leads to better outcomes. Instead, it suggests that the capacity to hold out for a second marshmallow is shaped in large part by a child’s social and economic background—and, in turn, that that background, not the ability to delay gratification, is what’s behind kids’ long-term success”
  • David Evans’ collection of logframes!
  • On the All About Finance blog, Claudia Ruiz and co-authors summarize their work in Peru on using psychometric scoring to extend credit to SMEs – using a regression discontinuity.
  • Sylvain Chabé-Ferret hates p-values so much he is writing 6 blog posts about it (post 1, post 2, post 3, post 4, others to come). I particularly recommend post 4, which has a nice illustration of the point that when samples are small, if you find a statistically significant effect, it is heavily biased: in his simulation “With N=100, the estimates that are statistically different from zero at the 5% level are 2 to 2.5 bigger than the true effect”.

Weekly links June 1: moral quandaries, plunging response rates, business aspirations, an attempt to revive blogging, and more...

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Weekly links May 25: tips for saying no, three stories on the media and development, cricket as a development policy? And more...

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  • NBER Summer institute development economics program and labor studies program.
  • The map of “Manuscript-Earth” featuring  “The pit of you saved those files, right? Right?”, “confused about the big picture woods”, “The island of misfit results” and other glorious landmarks (h/t Dave Evans).
  • Do you say “no” enough to new projects? Anton Pottegard has a nice poster of 8 practical tools to assist in saying no – including JOMO (joy of missing out) – “once a project is turned down, set time aside to actively ponder about how happy you are not to be doing it” (h/t Scott Cunningham).

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