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Weekly links February 28: Malaria not so bad after all, people don’t mind if you only give stuff to their neighbors, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • Reminder: Today (Friday 28th) is the deadline for submissions to the World Bank’s ABCDE conference. While the title of the conference is “The Role of Theory in Development Economics”, they are looking for a broad range of “papers on innovative ways that analytical and deductive methods, as well as issues of methodology such as the use of randomizations, can be used in development.”.
  • On the IDB Development that Works blog, a discussion of how randomization was done in public for a water project in Bolivia: ““Dear fellow companions, the municipality of Sica Sica has changed. Things are no longer like they used to be. Today, with you all, we will select (beneficiaries) in a transparent manner, without the Mayor or the Municipal Council selecting the beneficiaries according to their preferences.”…Those words set up the tone of what was to come, a thorough defense of random assignment through public lottery as a just and equal mechanism to allocate program resources.”
  • An update on the ultra-poor graduation pilots from the CGAP blog: Yale Economics Professor Dean Karlan shared findings from six of the randomized controlled evaluations being conducted to evaluate the CGAP-Ford graduation pilot sites
  • GiveDirectly reports on an experiment it did to assess whether “saturation” or giving almost everyone in a village grants reduces tension and leads to less gaming than their current approach of targeting only those with thatched roofs. It didn’t.
  • The long-term (since 1500!) effects of Malaria – Georgetown Public Policy review summarizes new work by David Weil and Emilio Depetris-Chauvin: “Using the prevalence of sickle cell anemia (which provides some immunity against malaria) derived from historical records, they estimate malarial severity to create an index for the malaria burden in the past. They then model its impact on development in sub-Saharan Africa, the region with the highest prevalence of malaria today….” With the rather controversial finding that “areas with high malaria burdens are more likely to have high population density, prosperous local communities, and complex settlement patterns. One explanation for this, as the authors explain, is “malaria deaths are relatively low cost… there was little to no negative impact on economic development, mostly because many of the deaths were among young children who couldn’t contribute to an area’s development and in whom limited community resources had been invested relative to adults”