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When Randomization Goes Wrong...

Berk Ozler's picture

An important, and stressful, part of the job when conducting studies in the field is managing the number of things that do not go according to plan. Markus, in his series of field notes, has written about these (see, for example, here and here) roller coaster rides we call impact evaluations.

Psychological recovery after disaster – resilience is the norm

Jed Friedman's picture

I’ve been reading a good bit on psychological responses to conflict and disaster for on-going work and am struck by the tone of discussion in the popular press soon after a potentially traumatic event. In these reports, trauma among the survivors is often presumed widespread and the focus is on its expected costs and consequences. However more recent academic work on this topic argues that an exclusive focus on the traumatized misses most of the story.

Bringing opportunity to the youth? Evidence from Northern Uganda

Markus Goldstein's picture

Since Northern Uganda is very much in the news this week, I thought I would discuss an interesting paper by Chris Blattman, Nathan Fiala, and Sebastian Martinez which looks at the impact of a youth vocational training program in Northern Uganda (paper here and a short policy note here).

Helping new immigrants find work: a policy experiment in Sweden

David McKenzie's picture

Despite the large and growing literatures on migration in economics, sociology, and other social sciences, there is surprisingly little work which actually evaluates the impact of particular migration policies (most of the literature concerns the determinants of migrating, and the consequences of doing so for the migrants, their families, and for native workers). I am therefore always interested to see new work in this area, particularly work which manages to obtain experimental variation in policy implementation.

Do local development projects during civil conflict increase or decrease violence?

Jed Friedman's picture

A “hearts and minds” model of conflict posits that development aid, by bringing tangible benefits, will increase population support for the government. This increased support in turn can lead to a decrease in violence, partly through a rise in population cooperation and information sharing with the government. At least one previous observational study in Iraq found that development aid is indeed associated with a decrease in conflict.

Can we trust shoestring evaluations?

Martin Ravallion's picture

There is much demand from practitioners for “shoestring methods” of impact evaluation—sometimes called “quick and dirty methods.” These methods try to bypass some costly element in the typical impact evaluation. Probably the thing that practitioners would most like to avoid is the need for baseline data collected prior to the intervention. Imagine how much more we could learn about development impact if we did not need baseline data!

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