“There is nothing in this book that needs to be confirmed by complex laboratory experiments. You have only to open the window or step into the street”, Hernando de Soto, The Other Path, p14., 1989.
David McKenzie's blog
Despite the large and growing literatures on migration in economics, sociology, and other social sciences, there is surprisingly little work which actually evaluates the impact of particular migration policies (most of the literature concerns the determinants of migrating, and the consequences of doing so for the migrants, their families, and for native workers). I am therefore always interested to see new work in this area, particularly work which manages to obtain experimental variation in policy implementation.
· The IDB Development that Works blog covers a randomized trial of the one laptop per child program in Peru – no impact on learning, but some increase in cognitive skills.
One of my favorite papers to present is my paper on improving management in India, in part because we have wonderful photos to illustrate what bad management looks like and what improved practices look like (see the appendix to the paper for some of these). Photographing impact isn’t only useful for presentations and glossy summaries, but may potentially offer a new form of data. However, this is easier said than done, and today I thought I’d share some misadventures in trying to photograph impacts on small firms.
Typical policies to improve the incomes of poor households and their businesses are based on the sustained provision of services – be it microfinance with multiple loan cycles and regular meetings; conditional cash transfers with regular transfers over a period of years; or business training programs which are based on the idea that capital along is not enough – as in the proverb “give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach a man to fish and he can feed himself for life”.
Mark Rosenzweig and I have just written the preface for a special issue of the Journal of Development Economics focused on measurement and survey design. Rather than just summarize the papers, we tried to draw some lessons/themes of what the 13 papers in the special issue suggest. You can find the preface here.
Here are a couple of the points – read the preface for the full list of lessons:
· People behave more generously in dictator games when there is a white foreigner observing – evidence from Sierra Leone.
Recently I’ve done more than my usual amount of reviewing of grant proposals for impact evaluation work – both for World Bank research funds and for several outside funders. Many of these have been very good, but I’ve noticed a number of common issues which have cropped up in reviewing a number of them – so thought I’d share some pet peeves/tips/suggestions for people preparing these types of proposals.