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Berk Ozler's blog

Is It Better to Know than to Not Know?

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A 1994 song titled “Positive” by Spearhead goes:

“I should-a done this a long time ago

A-lot of excuses why I couldn't go

I know, these things and these things, I must know

'Cause it's better to know than to not know!

 

But how am I gonna live my life if I'm positive?

Is it gonna be a negative?

…”

 

Trials – A journal I did not know existed

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Reporting findings from studies in economics is changing, and likely for the better. It’s hard to not credit at least some of this improvement to the proliferation of RCTs in the field. As issues of publication bias, internal and external validity, ex-ante registration of protocols and primary data analysis plans, open data, etc. are being debated, the way we report research findings is changing.

Thank you for clarifying the estimand in your paper

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With the increasing use of randomized and natural experiments in economics to identify causal program effects, it can sometimes be easy for the layperson to be easily confused about the population for which a parameter is being estimated. Just this morning, giving a presentation to a non-technical crowd, I could not help but go over the distinction between the average treatment effect (ATE) and the local average treatment effect (LATE). The questions these two estimands address are related yet quite different, in a way that matters not only to academics but equally to policymakers.

A very warm welcome to Professor Kaushik Basu

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Coming back from our blog vacation, I had a new post ready to go. But then, I woke up and saw the announcement that Kaushik Basu was appointed the Chief Economist of the World Bank and our new Vice President. Suddenly, there was no contest between my planned post and this one – a joyous welcome to Kaushik.

Power of the Pill or Power of Abortion?

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I am a dual citizen of two countries, both of which legalized safe abortions when I was little or young, meaning that I grew up taking a woman’s right to a safe abortion as granted. Usually, when I hear family planning policy, I think of men and women planning the number, the timing, and the spacing of their children with the aid of modern contraceptives.

Health effects of non-health programs

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The previous post in this blog discussed the positive dynamic effects of conditional cash transfer (CCT) programs in Mexico and Nicaragua – in particular on asset accumulation and the incidence of entrepreneurship by the rural poor.

Beware of studies with a small number of clusters

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While some of us get to conduct individually randomized trials, I’d say that cluster randomized trials are pretty much the norm in field experiments in economics. Add to that the increase in the level of ambition we recently acquired to have interventions with multiple treatment arms (rather than one treatment and one control group) and mix it with a pinch of logistical and budgetary constraints, we have a non-negligible number of trials with small numbers of clusters (schools, clinics, villages, etc.).

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