I want to thank Catherine, David and some anonymous readers for their responses to last week’s post on who pays for evaluations. Their thoughtful responses led to me think more about objectivity and engagement with project teams, so here it goes:
That’s one blunt message from my new working paper with Marcel Fafchamps, Simon Quinn and Chris Woodruff, which replicates in Ghana a study that Chris and I had previously done in Sri Lanka with Suresh de Mel. In the new experiment, we take almost 800 microenterprises in urban Ghana, and randomly divide them into treatment and control groups.
IPA's Microsavings and Payments Innovation Initiative (MPIII) has just launched a call for expressions of interest-
We know funding is often a major issue for people with good ideas looking to get started doing impact evaluations, so are happy to advertise new opportunities for funding as they become available - just let us know if you have money you want to give out!
- Financial Sector
A piece in this week’s Nature reports that a large vaccine trial for HPV, which can cause cervical cancer, is in trouble in India due to serious violations of ethical rules and informed consent.
· A summary of Guido Imben’s lectures at the recent 3ie conference by Cyrus Samii
· Justin Lin on whether RCTs are missing some of the big policy questions on the Let’s Talk Development Blog.
Economists have long noted that the price mechanism can be effective at modifying human behavior. Psychologists classify this aspect of behavior motivation as extrinsic motivation, meaning that the behavior is induced by external pressure. If I increase my hours worked due to an overtime premium then I can be said to exhibit extrinsic motivation - I am responding to the price schedule offered me. In contrast to extrinsic motivation, psychologists posit intrinsic motivation as arising from within the individual.
The 6 foot 6 inch man looked me in the eye.
“And if we don’t like the results, I’ll break your kneecaps,” he said, without smiling.
This encounter, on my first impact evaluation, made me wonder about the impartiality of the whole exercise…and I am still wondering.
Studying abroad is becoming increasingly common in many countries – with almost 3 million students educated each year at the tertiary level in a country other than their own. For developing countries in particular, studying abroad offers many of the promises and fears of brain drain (both of which I think are overblown).
This blog has now featured a healthy debate between researchers advocating randomized evaluations and those cautioning the overuse of such methods. One point that I believe both sides would agree on is that irrespective of which empirical methods we use, it is important to understand and analyze the causal chain of impact. Such analysis can greatly enhance the external validity of any evaluation.
In a psychology experiment from 15 years ago, participants were asked to remember a number – the number was randomly selected to either be a short two digit number or a seven digit number – and then to walk down a hallway to another room for an interview. As a seeming afterthought, they were told there is a snack cart in the hallway and to help themselves to one of the snacks. The snack choice was either fruit salad or chocolate cake.