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Stuff you cannot randomize...

Berk Ozler's picture

I have been thinking about marriage recently. No, not about my own marital status, but marriage among school-age girls and its effects on future outcomes… While many arguments are made to curb teen marriages (and pregnancies), it is not clear whether these events themselves are the cause of poor future outcomes or they are simply correlated with other background characteristics that are prognostic of future outcomes. A brief survey of the literature indeed suggests that the evidence is mixed; especially when it comes to the effects of teen childbearing on future outcomes.

Dean Karlan’s new book: RCTs – this time it’s personal!

David McKenzie's picture

More than Good Intentions: How a new economics is helping to solve global poverty is a personalized helicopter tour of many recent randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in developing countries. It is written by Dean Karlan, who has been a researcher in many of these experiments, and Jacob Appel, who worked for Dean in implementing many of these experiments in Ghana.

On experimental evaluations of systems interventions

Jed Friedman's picture

A quick look at the burgeoning literature on policy evaluations will reveal a preponderance of evaluations of demand side schemes such as conditional cash transfers. There is an obvious reason for this beyond the promise that such interventions hold: the technology of treatment allows for large sample randomized evaluations, either at the household or community/village level. As long as financing is sufficient to sample an adequate number of study units, study power will not be a concern.

A disappointment with encouragement

Markus Goldstein's picture

In some joint work with an African government, my colleagues Francisco Campos, Jessica Leino and I were trying to evaluate the impacts of one of their support programs for small businesses.   This service was open to anyone who contacted them, but the number of entrepreneurs who knew about the program (and hence who used it) was low.  Basically, the way the program worked was that when the entrepreneur came into the office and registered for the program, the implementing agency would assess the needs of the business and then provide the entrepreneur with subsidized access to

What can marketing experiments teach us about doing development research?

David McKenzie's picture

The March 2011 issue of the Harvard Business Review has “a step-by-step guide to smart business experiments” by Eric Anderson and Duncan Simester, two marketing professors who have done a number of experiments with large firms in the U.S. Their bottom line message for businesses is:

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