Markus’ s post yesterday is the first on what will be one recurring blog theme here- measurement. I’ll continue the trend today with a focus on one of the most fundamental welfare constructs in economics: consumption. Specifically, how might the development researcher accurately measure household consumption through survey?
One of the things I learned in my first field work experience was that keeping interviews private was critical if you wanted unbiased information. Why? I guess at the time it should have been kind of obvious to me – there are certain questions that a person will answer differently depending on whom else is in the room. We were doing a socio-economic survey of rural households in Ghana, and we thought that income, in particular, would be sensitive, since spouses tended to share information on this selectively and perhaps in a strategic way.
Millions of dollars are spent each year trying to improve the productivity of firms in Africa (and those in other developing countries), yet we have very little rigorous evidence as to what works. In a new working paper I look at whether it is even possible to learn whether such policies even work, and what can be done to make progress.
Small number of firms + Large heterogeneity = Not much power
Update: Lant Pritchett has kindly responded to my invitation and posted his thoughts: "No need for unmet need." Check out the comments section.
In some joint work with an African government, my colleagues Francisco Campos, Jessica Leino and I were trying to evaluate the impacts of one of their support programs for small businesses. This service was open to anyone who contacted them, but the number of entrepreneurs who knew about the program (and hence who used it) was low. Basically, the way the program worked was that when the entrepreneur came into the office and registered for the program, the implementing agency would assess the needs of the business and then provide the entrepreneur with subsidized access to