· Essential reading this week: The Boston Review has an excellent feature on early interventions to promote social mobility, with the lead article by Jim Heckman. I never realized quite how small the samples of the famous early childhood studies are – treatment group of 58 kids in the Perry Preschool program and 65 in the control group.
With the increasing use of randomized and natural experiments in economics to identify causal program effects, it can sometimes be easy for the layperson to be easily confused about the population for which a parameter is being estimated. Just this morning, giving a presentation to a non-technical crowd, I could not help but go over the distinction between the average treatment effect (ATE) and the local average treatment effect (LATE). The questions these two estimands address are related yet quite different, in a way that matters not only to academics but equally to policymakers.
When Development Impact shut down for August, I had ambitious goals. Unfortunately I didn’t meet them all (why does that always happen?). However I did manage to madly review almost 60 proposals for the funding of prospective impact evaluations financed by various organizations and donors. Many of these proposals were excellent (unfortunately not all could be funded). However it was surprisingly informative to read so many proposals in such a condensed time.
- Proposal writing
What do we really know about how to build business capacity? A nice new paper by David McKenzie and Chris Woodruff takes a look at the evidence on business training programs – one of the more common tools used to build up small and medium enterprises. They do some work to make the papers somewhat comparable and this helps us to add up the totality of the lessons. What’s more, as David and Chris go through the evidence, they come up with a lot of interestin
At the end of August I gave several presentations at the IPA Impact and Policy Conference in Bangkok, which had days on SME development, Governance and Post-Conflict recovery, and Financial Inclusion. The agenda is here. There was a good mix of new results from studies that don’t get have papers, along with more polished work on the conference topics.
· Essential reading or viewing – take your pick – the Nobel Symposium on Growth and Development was held this week and has the content online. However, once again migration is overlooked in the keys to development discussion.
Coming back from our blog vacation, I had a new post ready to go. But then, I woke up and saw the announcement that Kaushik Basu was appointed the Chief Economist of the World Bank and our new Vice President. Suddenly, there was no contest between my planned post and this one – a joyous welcome to Kaushik.
In honor of Labor Day here in the US, I want to talk about a recent nutrition paper by Emla Fitzsimons, Bansi Malde, Alice Mesnard and Marcos Vera-Hernandez. This paper, “Household Responses to Information on Child Nutrition,” is one with a twist – they look not only at nutrition outcomes, but they also try and figure out where these might be coming from – and hence also look at labor supply.
We'll be refreshing our brains in August. We'll be back after Labor Day in the U.S., i.e. on September 4.
Enjoy your summer (in the Northern Hemisphere).
Berk, David, Jed, and Markus.