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Markus Goldstein's blog

Pollution, worker efficiency and the role of management: Evidence from India

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In a nice, recent paper Achyuta Adhvaryu, Namrata Kala, and Anant Nyshadham take a look at how air pollution hurts productivity and what effect, if any, managers can have in mitigating these effects.   The short answer is yes, pollution hurts worker productivity, and yes, managers with certain qualities do a better job of mitigating these effects as they manage their workers.   That’s the short story, but how they get there is quite fascinating.  

Getting beyond the mirage of external validity

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This post is coauthored with Eliana Carranza
No thoughtful technocrat would copy a program in every detail for a given context in her or his country.    That's because they know (among other things) that economics is not a science but a social (or dismal even) science, and so replication in the fashion of chemistry isn't an option.  For economics, external validity in the strict scientific sense is a mirage.

Presenting to policy vs. academic audiences: some thoughts

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I've been doing a bunch of presentations recently to both policy and academic audiences and been reflecting a bit on what the differences in presenting to these two different kinds of audience. Here are a couple of thoughts -- additional contributions are welcome as this is probably a topic that could take up a blog of its own.
1.  Keep the language universal.   If you want to reach the whole audience, you have to keep the language at a level that everyone can understand.     This is pretty obvious, but there are a couple of traps here.

What you don't know can hurt you: Malaria edition

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You are feeling not so well.   You go to the doctor.   She is a good doctor.   She runs some tests, tells you nothing is wrong with you and you leave, ready to get back to work.   Why are you so much more ready to work now then you were before you saw your doctor?  

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