I recently was thinking about what impact evaluations in development can tell us about poverty reduction. On one level this is a ridiculous question. Most of the impact evaluations out there are designed to look at interventions to improve people's lives and the work is done in developing countries, so it follows that we are making poor people's lives better, right? That's less obvious.
Markus Goldstein's blog
I was recently working with an implementing agency to design an impact evaluation and we were having trouble reaching a point where there was going to be a viable impact evaluation that answered big questions about the efficacy of the intervention. Looking back, part of the problem was that this agency was the implementer, not the funder. And they were paid by the funder based on reaching a certain number of people and having those people participate in the program.
Last week I blogged about faked data in household surveys and a neat paper which told us how it might matter for results, but also gave us some tools to find the fakes. This week, I want to focus on one of the tools that that paper used: Benford’s Law.
So there I was, a graduate student doing my PhD fieldwork. In the rather hot office at the University of Ghana, I was going through questionnaire after questionnaire checking for consistency, missed questions and other dimensions of quality. All of a sudden I saw a pattern: in the time allocation questions, men in one village seemed to be doing the exact same things, for the same amount of time, on two very different days of the week.
This week is the World Bank’s annual conference on development economics. One of the papers being presented is by my colleague Kate Orkin (together with co-authors Tanguy Bernard, Stefan Dercon and Alemayehu Taffesse) and takes a look at a video intervention and its impact on aspirations among poor folks in Ethiopia. In particular, what Kate and her co-authors are asking is: can we shift aspirations and behavior by showing people more of what is possible?
We all know that institutions matter for development. A really nice new paper by Daron Acemoglu, Tristan Reed and James Robinson shows us how political competition affects a wide range of development outcomes.
co-authored with Michael O'Sullivan
As I procrastinate writing this post, it seems only fitting to take a look at a paper that takes a look at different commitment devices.
Two weeks ago, I blogged about some productive impacts of cash transfer programs. For these effects, as well as the myriad other blog posts and papers on this topic out there, a key point is that the benefits of these transfers extend well beyond the actual individual recipient of the transfer.