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Three new papers on measuring stuff that is difficult to measure

David McKenzie's picture
There are a number of things we would like to measure for which a direct question may be refused or met with an inaccurate answer. Three new papers demonstrate some of the methods that can be used to help overcome these problems.

Paper 1: List randomization for measuring illegal migration

Measuring International Mobility Through Where People Log In to Commonly Used Websites

David McKenzie's picture

International mobility of people is measured much less accurately than that of goods or finances. The most common sources of global data are from national censuses, which occur only every 10 years (and take years more to come out). Specialized surveys in some countries allow more frequent measurement of some flows, but such data are still relatively rare, and poorly suited to studying short-term migration movements.

Economists have experiments figured out. What’s next? (Hint: It’s Measurement)

Berk Ozler's picture

“Everybody lies.” This is the famous refrain of Dr. Gregory House that is repeated in almost every episode of the TV show House. But, we need not need to take our guidance from an eccentric TV character: academics have been heard stating similar sentiments.

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

Markus Goldstein's picture

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

Let’s not overstate the achievements of China and India – here are the real growth stars

David McKenzie's picture

When we talk about growth, we typically focus on growth rates, and so if we were to look at which countries had the greatest percentage increase in GDP per capita over the last decade (at constant international prices according to the World Development Indicators), we would get a table like this:

Measuring entrepreneurship (I)

Markus Goldstein's picture

This post is coauthored with Francisco Campos

A bat and a ball cost Rs. 1100 in total. The bat costs Rs. 1000 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?    A culturally appropriate GRE? No, this question comes from the cognitive portion of a test designed to measure entrepreneurship in Sri Lanka. 

Misadventures in Photographing Impact

David McKenzie's picture

One of my favorite papers to present is my paper on improving management in India, in part because we have wonderful photos to illustrate what bad management looks like and what improved practices look like (see the appendix to the paper for some of these).  Photographing impact isn’t only useful for presentations and glossy summaries, but may potentially offer a new form of data. However, this is easier said than done, and today I thought I’d share some misadventures in trying to photograph impacts on small firms.

What are we learning from better measurement?

David McKenzie's picture

Mark Rosenzweig and I have just written the preface for a special issue of the Journal of Development Economics focused on measurement and survey design. Rather than just summarize the papers, we tried to draw some lessons/themes of what the 13 papers in the special issue suggest. You can find the preface here.

Here are a couple of the points – read the preface for the full list of lessons:

Job satisfaction matters … and the measurement of job satisfaction matters

Jed Friedman's picture

Worker job satisfaction has been linked to salient measures of performance such as productivity, absenteeism, and workforce turnover. As such it is a construct that economists care about. I’ve recently reviewed research on the determinants of job satisfaction in order to prepare for a study on pay-for-performance reforms in the health sector. And I’ve found a few surprises…