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Friday links September 6, 2013: Cash, Scarcity, Justice, Taking your Kids to work (Development edition), and more…

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How should we understand “clinical equipoise” when doing RCTs in development

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While the blog was on break over the last month, a couple of posts caught my attention by discussing whether it is ethical to do experiments on programs that we think we know will make people better off. First up, Paul Farmer on the Lancet Global Health blog writes:
 

Insights from 15 years of Fieldwork in Thailand

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A new book Chronicles from the Field: The Townsend Thai Project provides a behind-the-scenes look at putting together one of the most impressive data collection projects in development  - Rob Townsend’s Thai data, which has conducted monthly surveys on a panel of Thai households for over 150 consecutive months, as well as annual surveys. The Townsend Thai data is available online and has spurred a number of research papers by Rob and his co-authors. This book looks at what it takes to produce all this data.

Why similarity is the wrong concept for External Validity

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I’ve been reading Evidence-based policy: a practical guide to doing it better by Nancy Cartwright and Jeremy Hardle. The book is about how one should go about using existing evidence to move from “it works there” to “it will work here”. I was struck by their critique of external validity as it is typically discussed.

Weekly links July 12: daycare, remittances for education, opaque measurement, funding, and more…

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  • How should we measure what is a high-income country? Martin Ravallion explains and critiques the World Bank definition on the CGD blog.
  • Aid Thoughts discusses new work on the value of daycare in Brazilian slums.
  • A new From Evidence to Policy note looks at the long-term impact of a conditional cash transfer on education in Colombia-part of the analysis uses admin data on test scores for graduating students – “students whose families received cash grants were between 4 and 8.4 percentage points more likely to graduate from high school; but Students whose families received the cash grants didn’t score higher on the national standardized achievement test given a year before graduation”.
  • Classic papers in behavioral finance summed up in a few sentences – Noah Smith gives his take on essential papers in behavioral finance.
  • On the IDB Development Effectiveness blog, Dean Yang and co-authors summarize their new study on the use of matching funds to channel remittances towards education in El Salvador.
  • Funding opportunity: The World Bank’s Strategic Impact Evaluation Fund (SIEF) has a new call for proposals for work on basic education, water and sanitation, early childhood development, and health systems. Details here.
  • Funding opportunity: 3ie has funding available under an agricultural innovation thematic window. This grant window will fund up to 16 new impact evaluations of interventions in the areas of knowledge transfer, contractual arrangements, adoption, and soil health
  • Funding opportunity: (Not just for impact evaluations) IZA and DFID are now accepting applications for funding in Phase III of the Growth and Labor Markets in Low Income Countries (GLM | LIC) program.  This will fund work on 1. Growth and labor market outcomes, 2. Active labor market policies, 3. Labor market institutions, 4. Migration and labor markets, 5. Gender and 6. Data for labor market analysis. Application materials here.

Three new papers on measuring stuff that is difficult to measure

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There are a number of things we would like to measure for which a direct question may be refused or met with an inaccurate answer. Three new papers demonstrate some of the methods that can be used to help overcome these problems.

Paper 1: List randomization for measuring illegal migration

Weekly links June 27: badly managed Indian schools, evaluating peace-building, the perils of misunderstanding significance, new power calculations, and more…

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  • In the LSE Centrepiece, Renata Lemos and Daniela Scur have a short piece summarizing new results from measuring management in retail, health, education and manufacturing in India: “In retail, the top 10% of Indian stores are better managed than 40% of US stores and 57% of UK stores. But in education, only 8% of US schools and 1% of UK schools are less well managed than the best 10% of Indian schools.”

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