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Markus Goldstein's blog

The program costs of impact evaluation

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I was at a workshop last week where I was moderating a discussion of the practicalities of doing impact evaluations in conflict and post-conflict settings.  One of the program-implementation folks made clear that working with the impact evaluation was a strain -- as she put it this "was pulling our field staff through a keyhole".   Which got me thinking about the costs that we, as impact evaluators, can cause for a program.   
 

Hammers, wrenches, and development policy

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The old saw goes: when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail.    But what if the best way to fix your broken policy is actually a bolt?   I was recently at a workshop where someone was presenting preliminary results of an evaluation cash transfer program which, while perhaps started with social protection kind of objectives in mind, actually seems to have had impacts on business creation and revenues that dwarfed your average business training program or microfinance program. 
 

Building the evidence based roadmap for women's economic empowerment

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On Monday I was at the UN Foundation's launch of a new report, A Roadmap for Promoting Women's Economic Empowerment.  Authored by Mayra Buvinic, Rebecca Furst-Nichols and Emily Courey Pryor this report provides a significant step forward in making sense of the rapidly growing evidence base on what works and what does not for gender equality.   [Full disclosure: with co-authors I contributed two of the many background papers for this report].
 

Biking to more education in India

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"Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. I rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes – the picture of untrammeled womanhood." - Susan B Anthony
 

The International Rescue Committee's approach to impact evaluation

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Our series on institutional approaches to impact evaluation continues!    DI recently virtually sat down with Jeannie Annan, Director of Research and Evaluation at the International Rescue Committee.   
 
DI:  What is the overall approach to impact evaluation at the IRC?
JA:  We are committed to providing (or supporting) the most effective and cost-effective interventions. This means using the best available research about what works combined with understanding of the context and experience in implementation to design and deliver our programs.  

The MCC's approach to impact Evaluation

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In our continuing series on discussing institutional approaches to impact evaluation, DI virtually sat down with Jack Molyneaux, Director of Independent Evaluations at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.  (Please note that these are Jack’s opinions, not that of the MCC)
 
DI:  Impact Evaluation seems to be something that's pretty important at the MCC. Can you tell us a bit about how this focus came about? 
JM: Since its inception MCC’s mandate has included demonstrating results.  Rigorous impact evaluations have always been a key component of that mandate. 

Thinking about how to target anti-poverty programs: ordeals or proxy means tests?

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When we want to target a poor population for an anti-poverty program, we first need to figure out who is actually poor.    This isn’t straightforward – there are a range of potential targeting criteria and options.    In countries where poverty is less dense and data is decent, two of the more common options are self-targeting and proxy means tests.    A nice recent paper by Vivi Alatas, Abjijit Banerjee, Rema Hanna, Benjamin Olken, Ririn Purnamasari, and Matthew Wai-Poi sheds some light on the r

Getting to better data: Talking to strangers

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About 15 years ago, when I was doing my dissertation research with a professor with experience in fieldwork, we did a 15 round survey with households in Ghana.   Given the frequency of the visits, we based the enumerators in the village.  But we were careful to hire enumerators from nearby big towns -- not the villages in which we were working.  This was partly for skills, but mostly to make sure that the enumerators wouldn't be asking sensitive questions of people they knew.   

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