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Berk Ozler's blog

What the HIV prevention gel trial failure implies for trials in economics

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For the World AIDS Day, there is a sign at the World Bank that states that taking ARVs reduces rate of HIV transmission by 96%. If this was last year, a sign somewhere may well have read “A cheap microbicidal gel that women can use up to 12 hours before sexual intercourse reduces HIV infection risk by more than half – when used consistently.” Well, sadly, it turns out, so much for that.

The Regressive Demands of Demand-Driven Development

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There is a frustratingly weak and positive finding in the literature that examines the targeting performance of social funds projects, which, over time, took on many of the characteristics of community-driven development programs and became an important part of the social protection strategy in many countries by funding projects that provide public (and sometimes private) goods requested by communities: they are only moderately pro-poor.

Family Planning Whack-a-Mole

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Since I reviewed, back in April, the paper by Ashraf, Field, and Lee on the effect of providing vouchers for injectable contraceptives to women in reducing unwanted pregnancies in Lusaka, Zambia, I had been worrying about the use of these modern, convenient, and reliable technologies in those parts of the world in which HIV is highly prevalent.

Conditions work! But are they a good thing? (Part II)

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Yesterday, in Part I of this post, we argued the extant empirical evidence suggests that the conditions cause a substantial amount of the desired behavior change intended by CCT programs. In other words: the “substitution effect” due to the condition may well be larger than the “income effect” of the transfers. For example, in the case of the Malawi experiment, the income effect was responsible for less than half of the total impact on school enrollment.

Conditions work! But are they a good thing? (Part I)

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One of the questions discussed at the recent World Bank workshop on the "Second Generation of CCT Evaluations" (website, complete with at least some of the presentations, here) was the role of the first C in the performance of the CCT: how important is the condition in accounting for the outcomes of conditional cash transfer programs?

Cash Transfers: What have we learned so far? What are the implications for policy? What more do we need to know?

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Tomorrow and on Tuesday (October 24-25), there is a workshop at the World Bank titled “CCTs: The Second Generation of Evaluations.” If you are at the World Bank or in the DC area, you may want to make your way to this event, as it promises to be a good one – focusing on research conducted on the topic in the past three years or so.

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