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.
Jed Friedman's blog
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.
Psycho-social well-being is a catch-all term that encompasses both psychological and social dimensions of life. This broad domain of welfare is typically correlated with traditional poverty measures – the economic poor also often exhibit low levels of psycho-social health and functioning. But does this correlation capture a causal relation running from low levels of psycho-social health to poverty? And, if so, can intervening in the psycho-social domain reduce poverty?
Material consumption is the basis of traditional welfare measurement in economic practice. For example
- In standard economic models, an individual’s investment choices are often determined with respect to the discounted streams of expected lifetime consumption under different scenarios.
Each year almost 4 million children die within the first four weeks of life, many from preventable or treatable causes. Much programmatic aid is now devoted to devising ways to ensure that simple effective health practices, such as ensuring a more sterile birth environment, are adopted on a wide scale. A number of recent evaluations from South Asia suggest that the active involvement of local women’s groups in problem solving can be among the most cost-effective interventions to prevent deaths.
The basic principles of ethical research as laid out in the Belmont Report include “respect for persons”, which stipulates that all individuals should be treated as autonomous agents. Typically this principle is translated into practice with a statement read to all study subjects concerning the voluntary nature of study participation and the freedom to withhold consent. These ethical guidelines largely derive from medical trials where individual targeting of an intervention such as an experimental drug is typical.
I’m currently attending this large conference in lovely Toronto and trying to pack-in as many sessions as possible. A handful of papers have stood out to me – two evaluations of on-going pay-for-performance schemes in health and two methodological papers related to the economics of obesity.