The short-term benefits of certain social support programs such as CCTs have been well documented –CCT programs tend to raise household consumption as well as the utilization of schools and health clinics. It is a natural question, and one of great interest, to think more dynamically and ask whether these programs also enable households to invest in productive assets.
Jed Friedman's blog
Allow me to take the occasion of the 236th “birthday” of my native-born country (celebrated on July 4th here in the U.S.) to go far afield and discuss a topic that, while grounded in empirical social science, doesn’t touch directly on impact evaluation. The topic is how the personality traits of an individual may be related to his or her relative wealth.
This blog has previously explored the (somewhat rare) involvement of other social science disciplines in development economics research. Now a new book helps move the ball down the field a bit more. Entitled Children and Youth in Crisis, and edited by Mattias Lundberg and Alice Wuermli, the book combines various disciplinary perspectives on the impacts of economic shocks on human development.
Indoor smoke from cooking on an open fire has long been recognized as a major cause of ill health, especially for women and young children (those either most vulnerable or most likely to be exposed). Improved cooking stoves represent the hopes of development professionals in that their efficient design and vented smoke should improve health, lower mortality, and reduce fuel use.
Public sector reforms often attempt to mimic the “discipline” of the market in order to spur better performance among service providers. Examples include numerous variants of performance based financing for health, where health providers are compensated monetarily for achievement of specified health targets. At the heart of this approach is a standard view of economic agents induced to modify behaviors through pecuniary incentives.
Researchers have long recognized the importance of choosing interviewer characteristics while designing their fieldwork – for example female interviewers are often utilized to explore topics related to domestic violence and respondents of both sexes are more likely to disclose sexual abuse to female interviewers than to male ones. Another key consideration is the degree of familiarity between interviewer and respondent, but here the decision appears to be obvious.
- interviewer effects
Very recently, the results of the third global Copenhagen Consensus were released. This is a semi-regular event self-billed as an effort to put together “the world’s smartest minds to analyze the costs and benefits of different approaches to tackling the world’s biggest problems”. This year’s consensus exercise seeks to determine the best ways of advancing welfare by “supposing that an additional $75 billion of resources were at [the experts’] disposal over a 4-year period”.
Co-authors and I are soon to complete (fingers crossed) some new work on climatic shocks and neo-natal mortality. But our findings are not the topic of this post. Rather I want to discuss the necessary behind-the-scenes data construction work that had to take place before the first regression could be estimated. The work involved the aggregation of fifty plus national level microdata sets (from Demographic and Health Surveys) and then a merger with geo-coded historical weather data (from NOAA).
The majority of CCT programs with schooling conditions have been found to increase enrollment rates and attendance. Far fewer of the evaluations, however, report results on learning outcomes. Those that do typically find no gains in learning, at least as assessed by test scores. The 2009 CCT review report by Fiszbein, Schady, and others summarizes four studies that measure CCT impacts on learning outcomes. The first two use school-based testing data and find no impact on test scores.