The discount rate used by individuals to trade off utility in the future against utility today is a fundamental parameter of decision theory. It is typically elicited in surveys by asking individuals to make choices between receiving an amount today, and a different amount at some point in the future. There are lots of key design issues involved in doing this (e.g.
David McKenzie's blog
- Using mobile phones for data collection efforts – some lessons from doing this in Uganda – from the World Bank’s EduTech blog.
- Andrew Gelman hosts a discussion on list randomization experiments to elicit sensitive information
- In Foreign Affairs Chris Blattman and Paul Niehaus discuss cash transfers.
- Rachel Glennerster discusses thorny issues that arise in the ethics of doing research (whether a randomized experiment or not) in developing countries, summarizing some issues in a new chapter she has on this issue.
- On the 3ie blog Howard White discusses a 1985 WHO paper about doing impact evaluations on water and sanitation projects – and notes a lot of similarities with problems noted in IE design then and ones that continue to be prevalent today.
The production process for many economics papers requires relatively few inputs: one or two researchers, their computers, a research assistant, and some data someone else has collected. Indeed Bob Hall notes that Robert Solow once remarked that the most powerful tool for research was one economics professor with one research assistant.
Bill Easterly’s new book “The Tyranny of Experts: Economists, Dictators, and the Forgotten Rights of the Poor” is a meandering mélange of anecdotes, parts of Why Nations Fail, and miscellaneous pages from human rights reports, sprinkled with history of economic thought, non sequiturs about one block in New York, finally mixed with some sharper critiques of Thomas Friedman and discussion of the difficulties of measuring the relationship between autocracy and growth.
My latest working paper (joint with Sarojini Hirschleifer, Rita Almeida and Cristobal Ridao-Cano) presents results from an impact evaluation of a large-scale vocational training program for the unemployed in Turkey. I thought I’d briefly summarize the study, and then discuss a few aspects that may be of more general interest.