- At VoxEU, Martin Ravallion discusses how many of the arguments against universal basic income are really about strawmen that overstate the effectiveness of targeted transfers.
- Bruce Wydick on fake news, narrative, science and truth.
- The new issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives has a symposium on recent ideas in econometrics, including (among others) Athey and Imbens on Causality and Policy Evaluations; Low and Meghir on Structural Models; and Mullainathan and Spiess on machine learning.
What is the signal we should infer from a paper using a novel method that is marketed as a way to improve transparency in research?
I got to thinking about this issue when seeing a lot of reactions on twitter like “Awesome John List!”, “This is brilliant”,etc. about a new paper by Luigi Butera and John List that investigates in a lab experiment how cooperation in an allocation game is affected by Knightian uncertainty/ambiguity. Contrary to what the authors had expected, they find adding uncertainty increases cooperation. The bit they are getting plaudits for is then the following in the introduction:
- How many qualitative interviews or focus groups do you need to do? Very useful post by Emily Namey summarizes several studies to end up with guidelines that you need only 6-12 qualitative interviews or 3-6 focus groups to get saturation – the point where additional interviews add little or no new information.
- On the All about Finance blog, Miriam Bruhn and I blog about our paper on how government grants in Poland to foster enterprise-academia collaboration spurred innovation (using RD).
- World Bank “between two geeks” podcast on using cellphone metadata, including an interview with Joshua Blumenstock on his work using this type of data
A recent paper in Lancet Global Health found that generous conditional cash transfers to female secondary school students had no effect on their school attendance, dropout rates, HIV incidence, or HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus – type 2) incidence. What happened?
- Congrats to Dave Donaldson for winning the Clark medal this year for his work at the intersection of international trade and development economics (although the economic historians are also claiming him) – here is the NYTimes summary – and here is a recent IGC piece by Dave and co-authors on the barriers to trade in Africa.
- Dave Evans discusses three further examples of studies that relate to the issue of scaling up RCTs on his personal blog – with a lively discussion on twitter under this thread and this one about what exactly you want to hold constant when thinking about whether the government can scale up a program run by NGOs. Keeping busy, he also blogs about his newly accepted paper on cash transfers and health outcomes in Tanzania, along with links to the data.
- Friday Links