I was recently working with an implementing agency to design an impact evaluation and we were having trouble reaching a point where there was going to be a viable impact evaluation that answered big questions about the efficacy of the intervention. Looking back, part of the problem was that this agency was the implementer, not the funder. And they were paid by the funder based on reaching a certain number of people and having those people participate in the program.
A good regression-discontinuity can be a beautiful thing, as Dave Evans illustrates in a previous post. The typical RD consists of controlling for a smooth function of the forcing variable (i.e. the score that has a cut-off where people on one side of the cut-off get the treatment, and those on the other side do not), and then looking for a discontinuity in the outcome of interest at this cut-off. A key practical problem is then how exactly to control for the forcing variable.
- A new database of impact evaluations conducted in South Asia
- Experimental evidence that hearing Spanish makes Republicans more anti-immigration.
- A useful blog post on how to come up with better titles for your papers.
The latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives contains a symposium on classic ideas in development: Doug Gollin on the Lewis model, Chang-Tai Hsieh and Ben Olken on the missing middle, Rafael La Porta and Andrei Shleifer on informality, and
Should India replace its public food distribution system (PDS) with cash transfers?
Co-authorship has become increasingly common in economics, rising from 28 percent of publications in top journals in 1973 to 55% in 1993 and 79.6% in 2011. But are people collaborating as much as they should, or do search frictions prevent productive collaborations from taking place?
- The impact of going to a better school is not just better grades, but also better health - based on lotteries to get into charter schools in Los Angeles: “students from the charter schools not only performed much better on math and English standard tests. These students also reported less very risky health behaviors, including unprotected sex, carrying a weapon, and gang membership, compared to district school students.”
- Measuring empowerment on the from poverty to power blog: “breaking down the fuzzword ‘empowerment’, into the ‘four powers’ (power within; power with; power to and power over) model”…” you just can’t rock up in a village and ask do you feel empowered?’ and expect to get a useful result”
Last week I blogged about faked data in household surveys and a neat paper which told us how it might matter for results, but also gave us some tools to find the fakes. This week, I want to focus on one of the tools that that paper used: Benford’s Law.
The self-employed often underreport income to tax authorities. Less is known about how trustworthy the income reported on household surveys is, but there is a concern that they may also underreport their income in surveys too – either because of concerns about it getting linked to official records, or because the easiest number for them to report is the one they tell the authorities. This raises obvious concerns about the measurement of items such as the poverty levels of the unemployed, the differential income gap between wage work and self-employment, and many other such uses.