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!
So what makes people do socially oriented tasks better? An interesting new paper by Nava Ashraf, Oriana Bandiera, and Kelsey Jack shows that money doesn’t matter and recognition makes a big difference.
One of my favorite papers to present is my paper on improving management in India, in part because we have wonderful photos to illustrate what bad management looks like and what improved practices look like (see the appendix to the paper for some of these). Photographing impact isn’t only useful for presentations and glossy summaries, but may potentially offer a new form of data. However, this is easier said than done, and today I thought I’d share some misadventures in trying to photograph impacts on small firms.
· Global poverty numbers for 2005-2008 are out. Many of you may not have known this, but the four of us who maintain this blog work in the same research group at the World Bank that is responsible for producing these numbers.
A core concern for any impact evaluation is the degree to which its findings can be generalized to other settings and contexts, i.e. its “external validity”. But of course external validity concerns are not unique to economic policy evaluation; in fact they are present (implicitly or explicitly) in any empirical research with prescriptive implications.
Last week, my unit at the Bank organized a workshop on Cost Analysis for Interventions in Human Development. No – this wasn’t a ploy to gather a bunch of accountants in one place to see how many it would really take to change a light bulb.
What are the best things ordinary people living in rich countries can do to help poor people living in developing countries? This is the question the editors of Christianity Today assigned to me for a special issue this month on world poverty. It is a question many people like my parents worry about, people who would like to give money to causes that help poor people overseas, but to put it simply
Typical policies to improve the incomes of poor households and their businesses are based on the sustained provision of services – be it microfinance with multiple loan cycles and regular meetings; conditional cash transfers with regular transfers over a period of years; or business training programs which are based on the idea that capital along is not enough – as in the proverb “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life”.
If you are interested in HIV prevention, at some point you are likely to have heard “transactional sex” discussed as one of the issues. However, I find this discussion to usually be awkward and confused, especially among Western audiences: the user is feeling somewhat uncomfortable using the term and the audience is having trouble understanding what it is she exactly means. The frameworks we have in the U.S. are dating on one end and commercial sex work on the other.