If economists view mental health as one component of human capital, as we typically view physical health, then it’s a natural step to the corollary view that good mental health leads to productivity enhancing behaviors such as increased labor supply, greater effort, enhanced concentration, and so on. Given its productive role perhaps mental health, often neglected in the policy realm, deserves more attention. Unfortunately there are precious few studies till date that actually establish such a link between psychological health and productivity.
Jed Friedman's blog
Worker job satisfaction has been linked to salient measures of performance such as productivity, absenteeism, and workforce turnover. As such it is a construct that economists care about. I’ve recently reviewed research on the determinants of job satisfaction in order to prepare for a study on pay-for-performance reforms in the health sector. And I’ve found a few surprises…
A conference on access to malaria medicine recently held at the World Bank offered many substantive studies – and I will discuss some in detail in the new year. However with my last post of 2011 I’d like to end the year on some good news (even if the news is only partially related to impact evaluation).
On my return from a long work trip in Thailand and the Philippines, I stopped at the University of Southern California to attend the 4th global health supply chain summit. I typically enjoy attending meetings outside my immediate discipline since I get to hear about new ideas in fields far from my own. This conference was no exception.
Network analysis is a burgeoning sub-field in development economics as more and more attention is paid to how individual preferences and behaviors are influenced by decisions in the wider community. One example is the 2007 Kremer and Miguel paper that explores the determinants of take-up of deworming medicine by regressing take-up on the number of connections that the household has with other treated households.
When I first started field work in Indonesia (as a PhD student) I observed numerous household survey interviews. Even though I didn’t speak Javanese I was familiar with the questionnaire and so could follow the ups and downs of the household interview. These survey encounters were not trivial events for the typical household that, almost universally, would welcome a group of strangers into their house who would then probe and ask about every aspect of their lives for up to two hours.
- Survey effects
The types of data available to development economists are proliferating – multi-topic household surveys are almost passé today but 25 years ago it was a rare privilege to be able to correlate economic measures of the household with other indicators such as health or community infrastructure. Not only are surveys more sophisticated, and arguably contain less error due to the use of field based computers, but the digital revolution has multiplied the types of data at our beck and call.
It’s well-worn development wisdom that transfer programs specifically targeting women result in better child outcomes. Presumably this effect works through the empowerment of women in the household, where the shift in relative earnings gives greater weight to the preferences of the woman and less to those of her husband.