After last week’s review of Mark Rosenzweig’s review of Poor Economics, I got asked, via email and comments, what I thought about Martin Ravallion’s review in the same issue of the Journal of Economic Literature.
Suppose that you’re told that a program reduced the rate of dropping out of school among 15 year-olds by 17% and this reduction was statistically significant. You are also told that the same figure among 12 year-olds is 38%. You would likely take note. Suppose now you’re told that these are the effects of a conditional cash transfer program, where the dropout rate among the control group is 37.7% and 16.8%, respectively for ages 15 and 12, thus the absolute effect sizes are 6.4 percentage points in each case.
As the United States prepares for its first presidential election after the Great Recession, inequality has emerged as a central political issue. This is not unremarkable: Americans have historically seemed much less troubled by income differences than, say, Europeans. You may remember a 2004 article by Alberto Alesina, Rafael di Tella and Robert MacCulloch in the Journal of Public Economics, which reported that happiness in the US was much less sensitive to inequality than in Europe.
There is a frustratingly weak and positive finding in the literature that examines the targeting performance of social funds projects, which, over time, took on many of the characteristics of community-driven development programs and became an important part of the social protection strategy in many countries by funding projects that provide public (and sometimes private) goods requested by communities: they are only moderately pro-poor.
Psycho-social well-being is a catch-all term that encompasses both psychological and social dimensions of life. This broad domain of welfare is typically correlated with traditional poverty measures – the economic poor also often exhibit low levels of psycho-social health and functioning. But does this correlation capture a causal relation running from low levels of psycho-social health to poverty? And, if so, can intervening in the psycho-social domain reduce poverty?
Hot on the heels of More than good Intentions comes an outstanding new book by two of the most prominent leaders of the recent push for more rigorous evaluation – Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo’s Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the way to Fight Global Poverty