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Berk Ozler's blog

Making small gains loom large: A review of Rosenzweig’s review of Poor Economics

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Suppose that you’re told that a program reduced the rate of dropping out of school among 15 year-olds by 17% and this reduction was statistically significant. You are also told that the same figure among 12 year-olds is 38%. You would likely take note. Suppose now you’re told that these are the effects of a conditional cash transfer program, where the dropout rate among the control group is 37.7% and 16.8%, respectively for ages 15 and 12, thus the absolute effect sizes are 6.4 percentage points in each case.

Mind Your Cowpeas and Cues: Inference and External Validity in RCTs

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There is a minor buzz this week in Twitter and the development economics blogosphere about a paper (posted on the CSAE 2012 Conference website) that discusses a double blind experiment of providing different seeds of cowpeas to farmers in Tanzania.

When Randomization Goes Wrong...

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An important, and stressful, part of the job when conducting studies in the field is managing the number of things that do not go according to plan. Markus, in his series of field notes, has written about these (see, for example, here and here) roller coaster rides we call impact evaluations.

What do people mean when they talk about “transactional sex”?

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If you are interested in HIV prevention, at some point you are likely to have heard “transactional sex” discussed as one of the issues. However, I find this discussion to usually be awkward and confused, especially among Western audiences: the user is feeling somewhat uncomfortable using the term and the audience is having trouble understanding what it is she exactly means. The frameworks we have in the U.S. are dating on one end and commercial sex work on the other.

When it comes to female education, have we gotten it all backwards?

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To get children to attend school in developing countries, our approach has been primarily to assume that the schooling that is available is worth pursuing, meaning that the problem must be with some barrier to go to school despite a great desire to do so: perhaps the family cannot afford the costs of schooling; perhaps the schools are not good or too far; perhaps the children want to be in school but the parents prefer food today to educated daughter tomorrow; maybe people don’t know the value of schooling, etc.

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