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Markus Goldstein's blog

Business training that goes better with friends

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The evidence on the effectiveness of business training is, at best, mixed (for an example, see my previous post on David McKenzie and Chris Woodruff's artful review).   As David and Chris point out, part of the problem was methods (esp. sample size).   But even when the methods were good, the results were often lackluster, particularly for women.  
 

Saving your way to a better state

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People in developing countries, much like people everywhere, save.   And in Sub-Saharan Africa, beyond banks, folks save through a bunch of techniques -- ranging from the less sophisticated under the mattress savings to the more complex community-based rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs).    Given this plethora of savings options, one might wonder if an NGO program that set up savings groups but injected no capital or lockboxes or any other capital intensive intervention might make a

Do impact evaluations tell us anything about reducing poverty?

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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.  
 

Notes from the field: The danger of programs that pay for performance

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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.
 

When bad people do good surveys

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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.  
 

Aspirations and poverty

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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?   
 

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