Should India replace its public food distribution system (PDS) with cash transfers?
Co-authorship has become increasingly common in economics, rising from 28 percent of publications in top journals in 1973 to 55% in 1993 and 79.6% in 2011. But are people collaborating as much as they should, or do search frictions prevent productive collaborations from taking place?
- The impact of going to a better school is not just better grades, but also better health - based on lotteries to get into charter schools in Los Angeles: “students from the charter schools not only performed much better on math and English standard tests. These students also reported less very risky health behaviors, including unprotected sex, carrying a weapon, and gang membership, compared to district school students.”
- Measuring empowerment on the from poverty to power blog: “breaking down the fuzzword ‘empowerment’, into the ‘four powers’ (power within; power with; power to and power over) model”…” you just can’t rock up in a village and ask do you feel empowered?’ and expect to get a useful result”
Last week I blogged about faked data in household surveys and a neat paper which told us how it might matter for results, but also gave us some tools to find the fakes. This week, I want to focus on one of the tools that that paper used: Benford’s Law.
The self-employed often underreport income to tax authorities. Less is known about how trustworthy the income reported on household surveys is, but there is a concern that they may also underreport their income in surveys too – either because of concerns about it getting linked to official records, or because the easiest number for them to report is the one they tell the authorities. This raises obvious concerns about the measurement of items such as the poverty levels of the unemployed, the differential income gap between wage work and self-employment, and many other such uses.
- Berk has a nice piece on 538.com about the contribution of cash transfers towards reducing Brazil’s legendary inequality – it was even tweeted by Bill Gates!.
So there I was, a graduate student doing my PhD fieldwork. In the rather hot office at the University of Ghana, I was going through questionnaire after questionnaire checking for consistency, missed questions and other dimensions of quality. All of a sudden I saw a pattern: in the time allocation questions, men in one village seemed to be doing the exact same things, for the same amount of time, on two very different days of the week.
Many policy interventions combine several features that we think may all potentially be key for the results we are trying to achieve. For example, conditional cash transfers typically combine giving cash to the household, some message about the importance of health and education, some condition that requires the household to go to health clinics or kids to attend schools, and details such as who receives the cash (mother or father), how they receive it (directly paid to bank accounts or paid in cash), and the frequency of receipt.