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David McKenzie's blog

The Illusion of Information Campaigns: Just because people don’t know about your policy, it doesn’t mean that an information campaign is needed

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How many points do you need to qualify to migrate to Australia? What is the cost of applying? How much money do you need to set up a bank account in the Cayman Islands? What is the procedure for getting money out of these accounts when you want to spend it?

May 3 Links: Finding your “thing” as a researcher, programs for female self-employment that work, and more…

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  • From the indecision blog – as a young researcher, how do you find out what your “thing” is, that is, your research agenda -  interesting hypothesis that for many researchers research preferences “reveal themselves”.
  • From the 3ie blog – does economics need a more systematic approach to replication to be considered a hard science? – interesting link contained within to an AER editor’s report on the replication policy there.
  • New results published in the New England Journal of Medicine from the Oregon Health Experiment look at impacts of access to Medicaid on simple health measures like cholesterol and blood pressure (see our discussion of the original set of results here), and for summaries of the new results either the Washington Post Wonkblog or NPR). One of the big measurement issues is of course that even with a sample of approx 6,000 treated and 6,000 control, it is not clear there are enough cases over 2 years of the sort of health events that easier access to medical care can fix.
  • After Markus’s post this week showing how a package of grants and training helped women grow small businesses in Bangladesh, Chris Blattman has a post on new results from an evaluation he did in Uganda, which also finds positive impacts of training and grants on getting women to start businesses. We’ll wait for a working paper to render our thoughts on this – there are worrying issues (phased in randomization where the control group was guaranteed treatment at a known later date, potentially causing them to delay current business activities) and intriguing-sounding findings (general equilibrium effects on village economies) that pique my interest.

Enhanced Active Choice: Utilizing Behavioral Economics to Increase Program Take-up

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Shifting from opt-in to opt-out defaults is one of the clearest success stories for policy to emerge from behavioral economics, as evidenced by the large increases in organ donor rates and contributions to retirement savings plans obtained when opt-out defaults are used instead of opt-in. 
                However, there are several limits of opt-out policies:
 

Blog Links April 19: Over-generalization, framing financial literacy, fake resumes, and more…

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·         The Indecision blog continues its series on the 7 sins of consumer psychology research - number 6 on over-generalization is a useful read: “Once an effect has been reported in a published paper (especially if it is by a famous author in a prestigious journal), we tend to treat it as gospel, again forgetting that this effect may be more context-specific than a quick readin

Measuring International Mobility Through Where People Log In to Commonly Used Websites

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International mobility of people is measured much less accurately than that of goods or finances. The most common sources of global data are from national censuses, which occur only every 10 years (and take years more to come out). Specialized surveys in some countries allow more frequent measurement of some flows, but such data are still relatively rare, and poorly suited to studying short-term migration movements.

Q&A with Arun Agrawal, Editor of World Development Part I

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Arun Agrawal, of the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, is the new editor of the journal World Development. He graciously agreed to continue our series of Q&As with journal editors.

Development Impact: You have taken over recently as editor of World Development. Tell us briefly about your vision for the journal – how do you aim to differentiate World Development from other development journals?

Weekly links March 29, 2013: job opportunities, CCTs, fishy p-values, and more…

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·         Work for me this summer: I'm looking for someone with good Stata skills who can help work with data coming in from a couple of randomized experiments, as well as to help develop and design some new work on improving measurement of business profits in developing countries. The latter would include the use of some innovative experiments with RFID technology, which I don't know much about, so the summer intern would spend some time trying to set this up.

RFID Bleg + Summer Opportunity if you know how to do this stuff

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I am in the early stages of exploring how to use RFID tags to improve measurement of turnover in small businesses. Does anyone know of cases where RFID tags have been used to track aid flows, or in development projects to track mass quantities of goods? I know technology is rapidly evolving and price dropping here, but would be good to know of recent experiences on this.

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