Yesterday, Martin Ravallion wrote a piece titled ‘Taking Ethical Validity Seriously.’ It focused on ethically contestable evaluations and used RCTs as the main (only?) example of such evaluations. It is a good piece: researchers can always benefit from questioning themselves and their work in different ways.
More thought has been given to the validity of the conclusions drawn from development impact evaluations than to the ethical validity of how the evaluations were done. This is not an issue for all evaluations. Sometimes an impact evaluation is built into an existing program such that nothing changes about how the program works. The evaluation takes as given the way the program assigns its benefits. So if the program is deemed to be ethically acceptable then this can be presumed to also hold for the method of evaluation.
- Impact evaluation: a woman’s best friend? Marcelo Guigale and Markus discuss in the Huffington Post how impact evaluations can help progress towards gender equity, summarizing a variety of different studies on what works and what doesn’t to help women.
As I procrastinate writing this post, it seems only fitting to take a look at a paper that takes a look at different commitment devices.
Carrying out evaluations to affect policy is the big motivation of many development economists. Usually, grant proposals and such will ask researchers to document “How will your results affect policy?”. In this post, we address a corollary of that problem statement: “when and how should your results affect policy?”. All the work that goes into the evaluation design at the start drums up a lot of enthusiasm among policymakers, and may open windows of opportunity for policy influence long before the final results from the evaluation are available.
- On the CGD blog, Jessica Goldberg corrects the weird NYT post by Casey Mulligan critiquing experiments
- Free online course on using randomized experiments to evaluate social programs to be offered by J-PAL: this is a 4 week course starting April 1st.
Worldwide, one in five children of upper-primary-school age remain out of school. Girls in developing countries are disproportionately affected, with a quarter of them not completing primary school.
I’m working on an impact evaluation in Colombia right now, and we are in the process of looking at baseline data from firms. The data are a bit noisy at the moment, and part of what makes it hard for me to look at is that many of the costs are in the millions (e.g. an energy bill of 1,442,990). The exchange rate currently is 1USD = 2055 Colombian pesos.
- Reminder: Today (Friday 28th) is the deadline for submissions to the World Bank’s ABCDE conference. While the title of the conference is “The Role of Theory in Development Economics”, they are looking for a broad range of “papers on innovative ways that analytical and deductive methods, as well as issues of methodology such as the use of randomizations, can be used in development.”.
Two weeks ago, I blogged about some productive impacts of cash transfer programs. For these effects, as well as the myriad other blog posts and papers on this topic out there, a key point is that the benefits of these transfers extend well beyond the actual individual recipient of the transfer.