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Markus Goldstein's blog

Power to the people? Taking a look at community driven reconstruction in the DRC

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Given the Bank's recent release of a report on community driven development and a recent New York Times article about the intractability of peace in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, I thought it would be worth looking at a recent

Should we believe the hype about adolescent girls?

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There aren't that many development initiatives I know that have their own slickly produced video, sponsored by a major corporation, let alone a parody. But the "girl effect," which makes the argument that investing in adolescent girls is a great thing, is one.  

Notes from the field: Setting up a firm survey in Malawi

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I am currently in Malawi rolling out a firm survey with my colleagues Francisco Campos and Manuela Bucciarelli.    As we’ve gone through the enumerator selection and training this week and a pre-test of the survey, a number of observations have come up – some related to firm surveys in particular, some more general.   In no particular order:

The Tao of Impact Evaluation

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Is in danger of being messed up.   Here is why:   There are two fundamental reasons for doing impact evaluation: learning and judgment.   Judgment is simple – thumbs up, thumbs down: program continues or not.   Learning is more amorphous – we do impact evaluation to see if a project works, but we try and build in as many ways to understand the results as possible, maybe do a couple of treatment arms so we see what works better than what. In learning evaluations, real failure is a lack of statistical power, more so than the program working or

How can we do better business training evaluations?

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Last week I blogged about a paper that David wrote with Chris Woodruff which takes stock of the existing evidence on the impact of business trainings.   The bottom line was that we still don’t know much.   Part of the reason is that these types of evaluations are not straightforward to do – they have some pitfalls that you don’t always find in your garden variety impact evaluation. So to

Does Business Training Work?

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What do we really know about how to build business capacity?    A nice new paper by David McKenzie and Chris Woodruff takes a look at the evidence on business training programs – one of the more common tools used to build up small and medium enterprises.   They do some work to make the papers somewhat comparable and this helps us to add up the totality of the lessons.   What’s more, as David and Chris go through the evidence, they come up with a lot of interestin

Better Nutrition Through Information

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In honor of Labor Day here in the US, I want to talk about a recent nutrition paper by Emla Fitzsimons, Bansi Malde, Alice Mesnard and Marcos Vera-Hernandez.   This paper, “Household Responses to Information on Child Nutrition,” is one with a twist – they look not only at nutrition outcomes, but they also try and figure out where these might be coming from – and hence also look at labor supply.  

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