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David McKenzie's blog

Testing different behavioral approaches to get people to attend business training

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A while back I blogged about work using active choice and enhanced active choice to get people to get flu shots and prescription refills. The basic idea here is that relatively small modifications to the way a choice is presented can have large impacts on the take-up of a program. This seemed useful in the context of many of our training programs– attendance rates averaged 65 percent in a review of business training programs I did with Chris Woodruff. Therefore for an ongoing evaluation of the GET AHEAD business training program in Kenya, we decided to test out this approach.
 

Weekly links October 17: how to do organizational change, extortion and schooling, what’s new in microfinance evidence, and more…

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Insuring small firms against big political and economic risks: an experiment in post-revolution Egypt

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The Arab Spring brought about a wave of joy in many countries in the Middle East and North Africa as repressive regimes that had ruled for years were overthrown. But the aftermath brought about considerable turmoil and uncertainty as to what was going to happen in many countries. In Egypt, the immediate aftermath of the January 2011 revolution which toppled Hosni Mubarak included closing the stock market for 55 days, curfews of up to 18 hours a day, and an interim government under the control of the Armed Forces.

Weekly links October 3: self-control, attitudes vs behavior, IE and poverty, and more…

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  • Self-control and worker productivity: In the Upshot, Sendhil Mullainathan summarizes his experiment in India that found that piece-rate data entry workers benefited as much from signing a commitment contract that punished them if they didn’t hit a target as they would from a 50 percent pay raise.

Experimentally testing a Job Matching Service and explaining high educated unemployment in Jordan

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In 2010, unemployment rates for Jordanian men and women between the ages of 22 to 26 with a post-secondary degree were 19 percent and 47 percent, respectively. The transition period from graduating university to stable employment for youth who do not immediately find a job is 33 months on average. This problem of educated unemployed is pervasive in many countries in MENA, and raises the question of why the labor market doesn’t clear for educated youth?

Curves in all the wrong places: Gelman and Imbens on why not to use higher-order polynomials in RD

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A good regression-discontinuity can be a beautiful thing, as Dave Evans illustrates in a previous post. The typical RD consists of controlling for a smooth function of the forcing variable (i.e. the score that has a cut-off where people on one side of the cut-off get the treatment, and those on the other side do not), and then looking for a discontinuity in the outcome of interest at this cut-off. A key practical problem is then how exactly to control for the forcing variable.

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