This post was co-authored with Espen Beer Prydz. The findings, interpretations, and conclusions expressed in this post are entirely ours. They do not necessarily represent the views of the World Bank and its affiliated organizations.
Why aren't all early childhood interventions most effective at the same age? Should we be checking that our randomizations are balanced according to genes that influence behavior? Should we be gathering biological outcomes, in addition to economic ones, even when the intervention does not involve biology?
Early childhood interventions - usually working through either health or education – can have very long-lasting effects, some of which are even transmitted to the next generation. Two weekends ago, the Chicago Initiative for Economic Development and Early Childhood (CEDEC) held a conference to survey what is known in this area and provide a forum for sharing findings from recent projects.
In today's post, I highlight a few bits of the presentations that taught me something I didn't know, gave me a reference I wanted to hold on to, or put old findings in a new perspective.
· My colleague Leora Klapper and manager Asli Demirguc-Kunt have just released new global data on financial access around the World called the Global Findex, funded by the Gates Foundation.
So what makes people do socially oriented tasks better? An interesting new paper by Nava Ashraf, Oriana Bandiera, and Kelsey Jack shows that money doesn’t matter and recognition makes a big difference.
If you are interested in HIV prevention, at some point you are likely to have heard “transactional sex” discussed as one of the issues. However, I find this discussion to usually be awkward and confused, especially among Western audiences: the user is feeling somewhat uncomfortable using the term and the audience is having trouble understanding what it is she exactly means. The frameworks we have in the U.S. are dating on one end and commercial sex work on the other.
To get children to attend school in developing countries, our approach has been primarily to assume that the schooling that is available is worth pursuing, meaning that the problem must be with some barrier to go to school despite a great desire to do so: perhaps the family cannot afford the costs of schooling; perhaps the schools are not good or too far; perhaps the children want to be in school but the parents prefer food today to educated daughter tomorrow; maybe people don’t know the value of schooling, etc.
With funds devoted to HIV/AIDS declining, there has not been a better time, at least in the past decade or so, to optimize the use of the limited resources between treatment and prevention.
Update: As if on cue, the Washington Post published an article (on January 19, 2012, 3:42 PM EST) that says:
For the World AIDS Day, there is a sign at the World Bank that states that taking ARVs reduces rate of HIV transmission by 96%. If this was last year, a sign somewhere may well have read “A cheap microbicidal gel that women can use up to 12 hours before sexual intercourse reduces HIV infection risk by more than half – when used consistently.” Well, sadly, it turns out, so much for that.