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David McKenzie's blog

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.

New research on getting people into jobs

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Jobs or the lack thereof dominate policy discussions around the world, with Governments everywhere facing a shortage of evidence as to which programs work in generating new employment and in helping particular groups of the unemployed find new jobs. I spent part of last week at the NBER summer institute, where papers in the Labor Studies and Entrepreneurship sessions were focused on employment.

An underappreciated benefit of experiments: convincing politicians when their pet projects don’t work

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New York City has suspended payments in a pay-for-performance program for teachers after an experiment found the program had not worked. From the New York Post:

Another attempt by the city to improve student performance through cash payments has failed, much to the surprise of Mayor Bloomberg.

Tell us – is there a missing market for collaboration on surveys between WB staff, researchers and students?

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The thought has occurred to me that there are more people than ever doing surveys of various sorts in developing countries, and many graduate students, young faculty, and other researchers who would love the opportunity to cheaply add questions to a survey. I therefore wonder whether there is a missed opportunity for the two sides to get together. Let me explain what I’m thinking of, and then let us know whether you think this is really an issue or not.

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