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Sanity in the Great Methodology Debate

David McKenzie's picture

The increased use of randomized experiments in development economics has its enthusiastic champions and its vociferous critics. However, much of the argument seems to be battling against straw men, with at times an unwillingness to concede that the other side has a point. During our surveys of assistant professors and Ph.D.

Bill Easterly chimes in on Part III of our series

Berk Ozler's picture

Bill Easterly was kind enough to send us some detailed comments on Part III of our series on "The Impact of Economics Blogs," asking us that we post them on our blog. We are more than happy to oblige:

Berk, thanks for offering to post this response to your post on your blog. I respect you and many others in the World Bank's Research Department who produce very high quality research that meets rigorous academic standards.

We talk a lot about empowerment, but how do we measure it?

Jed Friedman's picture

It’s well-worn development wisdom that transfer programs specifically targeting women result in better child outcomes. Presumably this effect works through the empowerment of women in the household, where the shift in relative earnings gives greater weight to the preferences of the woman and less to those of her husband.

With no ethics to worry about, what amazing advances could economics make?

David McKenzie's picture

The Telegraph has an article on seven scientific experiments that would have large pay-offs to science, but which would be completely unethical. Examples include separating twins at birth, testing new chemicals on humans, and cross-breeding a human with a chimpanzee. For each, they discuss the scientific premise, and the payoffs to science if it were to be accomplished.

The Impact of Blogs Part II: Blogging enhances the blogger’s reputation. But, does it influence policy?

David McKenzie's picture

On Monday, we examined the impact of blogs on downloads and citations. Today, in Part II (of a three or four part series over two weeks), we present our findings (and detail our efforts in doing so) to see whether blogging improves the blogger’s reputation as part of our paper in progress.

Does psycho-social support to the chronically poor reduce poverty?

Jed Friedman's picture

Psycho-social well-being is a catch-all term that encompasses both psychological and social dimensions of life. This broad domain of welfare is typically correlated with traditional poverty measures – the economic poor also often exhibit low levels of psycho-social health and functioning. But does this correlation capture a causal relation running from low levels of psycho-social health to poverty? And, if so, can intervening in the psycho-social domain reduce poverty?

The Impact of Economic Blogs - Part I: Dissemination (aka check out these cool graphs!)

David McKenzie's picture

There is a proliferation of economics blogs, with increasing numbers of famous and not-so-famous economists devoting a significant amount of time to writing blog entries, and in some cases, attracting large numbers of readers. Yet little is known about the impact of this new medium. Together we are writing a paper to try and measure various impacts of economics blogs and thought we’d share the results over a few blog posts – and hopefully get useful comments to improve the paper at the same time.

Lab Psychiatry and Field Economics: does media violence cause crime?

Berk Ozler's picture

Today's post comes from guest blogger Arianna Legovini (World Bank).

Over the kitchen counter and with the sound of video games coming from the family room, my friend Marco was telling me how mirror neurons act out the violence and killings we see on movies. Mirror neurons allow humans to read and share emotions. They also mimic what we see, good and bad, and prepare us to act.

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