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Markus Goldstein's blog

We need to know more about how to economically empower women

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co-authored with Alaka Holla

Everyone always says that great things happen when you give money to women. Children start going to school, everyone gets better health care, and husbands stop drinking as much. And we know from impact evaluations of conditional cash transfers programs that a lot of these things are true (see for example this review of the evidence by colleagues at the World Bank). But, aside from just giving them cash with conditions, how do we get money in the hands of women? Do the programs we use to increase earnings work the same for men and women? And do the same dimensions of well-being respond to these programs for men and women?

The answer is we don’t know much. And we really should know more. If we don’t know what works to address gender inequalities in the economic realm, we can’t do the right intervention (at least on purpose). This makes it impossible to economically empower women in a sustainable, meaningful way. We also don’t know what this earned income means for household welfare. While the evidence from CCTs for example might suggest that women might spend transfers differently, we don’t know whether more farm or firm profits for a woman versus a man means more clothes for the kids and regular doctor visits. We also don’t know much about the spillover effects in non-economic realms generated by interventions in the productive sectors and whether these also differ across men and women. Quasi-experimental evidence from the US for example suggests that decreases in the gender wage-gap reduce violence against women (see this paper by Anna Aizer), but some experimental evidence by Fernald and coauthors  from South Africa suggests that extending credit to poor borrowers decreases depressive symptoms for men but not for women.

Calling it in: using phones for repeat surveys

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In a working paper on the new LSMS-ISA (integrated surveys for agriculture) website, Brian Dillon describes the experience using phones in a research project he was working on with Diego Shirima, Geofrey Mwemezi and Msafiri Msedi.   (You can also find a published version of this paper

Is it the program or is it participation? Randomization and placebos

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So recently one of the government agencies I am working with was telling me that they were getting a lot of pressure from communities who had been randomized out of the first phase of a program. The second phase is indeed coming (when they will get the funding for their phase of the project) but the second round of the survey has been delayed – as was implementation of the first round of the program.   But that doesn’t make the pressure any less understandable.  

Turning on the taps in Tangiers

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So in my quest to understand the gender dimensions of water supply this week, I stumbled upon a nice paper by Florencia Devoto and coauthors. They look at the effects of providing piped water in Tangiers, Morocco. The immediately cool thing about this paper is that they got something quite hard – randomization in an infrastructure project.

Getting organized for progress in agriculture

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I recently came across a paper by Kelsey Jack which is a white paper for the J-PAL and CEGA Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative (ATAI).   This paper systematically explores the barriers to technology adoption that come from market inefficiencies, what we know about these, and what research is going on (under ATAI) to fill these gaps. 

Love and secrets

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OK, let’s put two blog posts in a pot and stir.   In a previous post on measuring consumption, Jed gave us some food for thought, while over on Aid Thoughts, Matt is talking about how a respondent is seeing the enumerator on the sly to conceal land that he doesn’t want his wife to know about.   Put it together, and what do you have?

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