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Markus Goldstein's blog

A spatial odyssey: The impacts of land formalization in Benin

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This post is co-authored with Michael O’Sullivan.  
Effective property rights matter for development. And heck, they even got a couple of shout outs in the recently adopted Sustainable Development Goals.  And we know from earlier work that weaker rights can lead to reduced agricultural productivity.  So what happens when folks move to better property rights?  

Who in this household has the final say?

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Who in the household has decision making power over various things (kids going to school, health seeking behavior of individual members) either alone or jointly with someone else in the household makes up a set of questions that often find their way into surveys (e.g. a version is included in most Demographic and Health Surveys).  An interesting new paper by Amber Peterman and coauthors takes a hard look at these questions and what they might, or might not, be telling us.    

Notes from the field: October edition

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In our continued series on experiences in implementing impact evaluations in the field, here are a couple of observations from my recent experiences in the field on some enterprise related impact evaluations I am working on:
  • The case of the fired up implementers.One of the evaluations we are working on is comparing two different types of business training – with both being delivered by the same service providers.Apparently the training of the trainers worked too well; in at least one location the trainers were so entrepreneurially energized by the training that they developed their own hybrid model that combines the two (yes, there already was a third arm where folks get both).This reminded me the importance of always knowing (at multiple points in time), as best you can, what is actually being implemented.

The infinite loop failure of replication in economics

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In case you missed it, there was quite a brouhaha about worms and the replication of one particular set of results this summer (see Dave's anthology here).   I am definitely not going to wade into that debate, but there is a recent paper by Andrew Chang and Phillip Li which gives us one take on the larger issue involved:  the replication of published results.   Their conclusion is nicely captured in t

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.