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Tools of the Trade: The Regression Kink Design

David McKenzie's picture

Regression Discontinuity designs have become a popular addition to the impact evaluation toolkit, and offer a visually appealing way of demonstrating the impact of a program around a cutoff. An extension of this approach which is growing in usage is the regression kink design(RKD). I’ve never estimated one of these, and am not an expert, but thought it might be useful to try to provide an introduction to this approach along with some links that people can then follow-up on if they want to implement it.

Weekly links February 5: the future of the World Bank, education reforms, nutrition evidence, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • The latest Journal of Economic Perspectives has two papers on the role of the World Bank: Clemens and Kremer on its role in facilitating international agreements to reduce poverty; and Ravallion on the role as a knowledge bank. Clemens and Kremer have a nice list of policy areas where developing countries have dramatically changed policies following World Bank involvement and conclude that “While it is impossible to quantify the Bank’s policy influence in a precise way, our judgment is that Bank donors are getting a tremendous amount of policy influence with their limited funding. This influence comes both through deals that link Bank finance to policy reform and through the Bank’s soft power. For this reason, allocating more resources to the Bank would be desirable.”
  • The JEP also has a nice summary by Larry Katz of Roland Fryer’s work.
  • The wonkblog on how much evidence there is (or is not) behind nutrition guidelines, and how evidence interacts with public policy demands – and of the difficulties of using RCTs in this context but also the dangers of veering towards nutritional nihilism
  • Finally, if you wonder why your emails don’t get replied to, here is PhD comics

Is My NGO Having a Positive Impact?

David Evans's picture

This post is jointly authored by David Evans and Bruce Wydick.

A daunting question faced by many non-government organizations (NGOs) involved in poverty work is—after all the fundraising, logistical work, direct work with the poor, and accounting is all done—one naturally wonders: Is my NGO having a positive impact? Indeed, as a recent Guardian article highlighted, “If the [NGO] sector wants to properly serve local populations, it needs to improve how it collects evidence.”  Donors are also increasingly demanding evidence of impact from NGOs, no longer just the large funders, but the small individual donors as well. 

Responses to the policymaker complaint that “randomized experiments take too much time”

David McKenzie's picture

There has obviously been a large increase in the number of rigorous impact evaluations taking place of World Bank projects over the past decade, including increasing use of randomized experiments. But one comment/complaint of a number of operational staff and government policymakers is still that “randomized experiments take too much time”.  In order to avoid repeating myself so often in responding to this, I thought I’d provide some responses on this point here.

Is giving birth at home a luxury good?

Berk Ozler's picture

The December 31, 2015 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine published an article by Snowden et al. that compared outcomes for births planned at a hospital vs. at home or at a freestanding birth center. I’ll discuss the findings and identification in a little bit (you can see the NYT article by Pam Belluck here). But, I actually want to discuss the characteristics of women who plan their births at a hospital vs. elsewhere.

Weekly links Jan 22: data, online training, not predicting growth, heaps of conferences, and more…

David McKenzie's picture

Social Frictions to Knowledge Sharing in India

Martin Ravallion's picture

There seems to be much enthusiasm today for efforts to improve access to information about poor people’s rights and entitlements. In a much debated recent example, Facebook’s “Free Basics” platform provides free access to a selected slice of the internet (including, of course, Facebook). In arguing for Free Basics, Mark Zuckerberg says that “everyone … deserves access to the tools and information that can help them to achieve all those other public services, and all their fundamental social and economic rights.” I think we would all agree; less obvious is whether Free Basics will help do that. Critics argue that it is a “walled garden” approach—indeed, a threat to net neutrality. There have been proposals for other options using subsidized internet data packs, as in the proposal for India made recently by Nandan Nilekani and Viral Shah.

Weekly links January 15, 2016: changing your mind, widowhood in Africa, funding, and more…

David McKenzie's picture