In research, as in life, first impressions matter a lot. Most sensible people don’t go on a first date disheveled, wearing sweatpants and their favorite raggedy hoodie from their alma mater, but rather wait to break those out well into a relationship. Working papers are the research equivalent of sweatshirts with pizza stains on them, but we wear them on our first date with our audience.
A recent article in the New York Times describes a “stealth survey” to measure the difficulties in accessing timely health care. This U.S. government sponsored survey involves a team of “mystery shoppers” to pose as potential patients on the phone in order to measure the efforts required to schedule a doctor’s appointment as a new patient.
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).