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Markus Goldstein's blog

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.   

What makes bureaucracies work better? Lessons from the Nigerian Civil Service

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Given Jed's post last week on thinking through performance incentives for health workers, and the fact that the World Bank is in the throes of a reform process itself, a fascinating new paper from Imran Rasul and Daniel Rogger on autonomy and performance based incentives in Nigeria gives us some other food for thought.   In a nutshell, Rasul and Rogger f

What happens when large ruminants (and some training) meet poverty traps

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Can we break poverty traps?   An interesting new paper by Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Narayan Das, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul, and Munshi Sulaiman adds to this emergent literature with a definitive “yes we can.”     Bandiera, et. al. evaluate a program run by the NGO BRAC which provides a significant infusion of capital, coupled with training, for Bangladeshi women.  

Getting to better data: who does the editing?

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In a previous post I talked about some issues with collecting gender disaggregating data in practice. Susan Watkins helpfully pointed me to a number of papers which provide more systematic and thoughtful evidence on data collection issues that a lot of us face and I thought it would be useful to summarize some of them here.  

Climate change and conflict

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I was at the Centre for the Study of African Economies conference this week, and Ted Miguel gave a fascinating keynote lecture.   The talk is based on a paper with coauthors Marshall Burke and Solomon Hsiang where they look at the effects of climate change on conflict.    And it was fascinating because they pull together a range of different evidence to build the case that if we care about conflict we o