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David McKenzie's blog

Sudoku quilts and job matches: An experiment on networks and job referrals

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One of the frustrations facing job seekers worldwide, but especially in many developing countries, is how much finding a job depends on who you know rather than what you know. For example, in work I’ve done with small enterprises in Sri Lanka, less than 2 percent of employers openly advertised the position they last hired – with the most common ways of finding a worker being to ask friends, neighbors or family members for suggestions. Clearly networks matter for finding jobs.

Strategies for Evaluating the Impact of Big Infrastructure Projects: How can we tell if one big thing works?

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One of the interesting discussions I had this last week was with a World Bank consultant trying to think about how to evaluate the impact of large-scale infrastructure projects. Forming a counterfactual is very difficult in many of these cases, and so the question is what one could think of doing. Since I get asked similar types of questions reasonably regularly, I thought I’d share my thoughts on this issue, and see whether anyone has good examples to share.

JEP Special Issue on Field Experiments

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The latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives (all content openly available online), has a symposium on the use of field experiments in economics. We’ve discussed or linked to posts on three of the four papers in previous blog posts: A paper on mechanism experiments by Ludwig, Kling and Mullainathan; a paper on the

Evaluating the World Bank’s ICT activities: What IEG got right and wrong and what can be done in the future

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The World Bank Group provided $4.2 billion in support to the ICT (information and communications technology) sector over 2003-2010, including 410 non-lending activities for ICT sector reform and capacity building in 91 countries. The World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group (IEG) had the unenviable task of trying to answer whether all this activity has been relevant and effective.

Sanity in the Great Methodology Debate

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The increased use of randomized experiments in development economics has its enthusiastic champions and its vociferous critics. However, much of the argument seems to be battling against straw men, with at times an unwillingness to concede that the other side has a point. During our surveys of assistant professors and Ph.D.

With no ethics to worry about, what amazing advances could economics make?

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The Telegraph has an article on seven scientific experiments that would have large pay-offs to science, but which would be completely unethical. Examples include separating twins at birth, testing new chemicals on humans, and cross-breeding a human with a chimpanzee. For each, they discuss the scientific premise, and the payoffs to science if it were to be accomplished.

The Impact of Blogs Part II: Blogging enhances the blogger’s reputation. But, does it influence policy?

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On Monday, we examined the impact of blogs on downloads and citations. Today, in Part II (of a three or four part series over two weeks), we present our findings (and detail our efforts in doing so) to see whether blogging improves the blogger’s reputation as part of our paper in progress.

The Impact of Economic Blogs - Part I: Dissemination (aka check out these cool graphs!)

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There is a proliferation of economics blogs, with increasing numbers of famous and not-so-famous economists devoting a significant amount of time to writing blog entries, and in some cases, attracting large numbers of readers. Yet little is known about the impact of this new medium. Together we are writing a paper to try and measure various impacts of economics blogs and thought we’d share the results over a few blog posts – and hopefully get useful comments to improve the paper at the same time.

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