- Dan Kopf at Quartz has a nice summary piece on “the transformative power of giving young women cash” – covering work in Malawi (by Berk and co-authors), in South Africa, in Bangladesh, and a forthcoming WBRO paper on cash transfers and intimate partner violence that overviews 14 studies “eleven of these studies found a reduction in domestic violence, two found no change, and only one found an increase”.
- Scott Guggenheim offers his response to/critique of the recent 3ie evaluation of CDD programs on the From Poverty to Power blog.
- In a new Finance & PSD impact note, Miriam Bruhn, Rekha Reddy and Claudia Ruiz summarize work they have done in Mexico that uses matched diff-in-diff to evaluate the impact of offering technical assistance to rural banks - “technical assistance allowed rural credit unions to increase their operating efficiency and reduce their non-performing loans ratio. Part of these gains translated into higher returns for the credit unions, but they were also passed on to the final borrowers in the form of more credit at lower lending interest rates.” We are now up to 50 of these 2-page summaries of finance and private sector impact evaluations.
If one of our children is skipping school without our approval and if we have not excused him or her before, my wife and I quickly receive a text message (see screenshot below), an email and a phone call from the school district. A serious discussion in the evening will ensue.
The New York Times recently had a piece on the retraction and re-issuance of a study in Spain based on a randomized trial of the Mediterranean Diet’s effect on heart disease. The original study was meant to be an individualized random assignment of 7,447 people aged 55 to 80 to one of three different diets – a control diet (advice to just reduce fat content), or two variants of the Mediterranean Diet (in which they were given free olive oil or free nuts). The study was originally published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) in 2013. The authors then appear to have been surprised to find their study on a list of suspicious trials. There are several parts to this story I thought would be of interest for doing impact evaluations in development, which I discuss below.
- In the Harvard Business Review, Blumenstock, Callen and Ghani summarize their work on using nudges to get government employees to save using mobile money in Afghanistan – “Over six months, the average employee who was enrolled to save by default accumulated an extra half-month’s salary in his or her savings account, relative to employees who had to opt in”
- An intro to R for Stata users
- The promise and perils of listening to parents – Sharon Wolf on ongoing efforts in Ghana to improve pre-school quality, and how trying to bring parents onboard backfired.
- In the Journal of Development Effectiveness, Sabet and Brown track the continued growth of development impact evaluations: “Though we find early evidence of a plateau in the growth rate of development impact evaluations, the number of studies published between January 2010 and September 2015 account for almost two thirds of the total evidence base”. Lots of other interesting facts, including 45% of all impact evaluations occurred in just 10 countries, with Kenya and Uganda having the most impact evaluations per million population, and Sub-Saharan Africa the most commonly represented region – perhaps something for donors to think about...
This is a guest post by Joachim De Weerdt, Kathleen Beegle and Stefan Dercon.
Last Sunday many (but not all) countries around the world celebrated father’s day, but what does the development literature say about the role of fathers?
- An excellent list of links curated by Masa Kudamatsu, on tips for economists, right through from applying to grad schools to becoming chair of department and Dean (h/t @seema_econ).
- From Unicef, a set of impact evaluations of humanitarian assistance programs (see papers on the right), including supporting the school participation of Syrian children in Lebanon, food assistance in Mali, and programs in Iraq, Yemen and Niger.
- On VoxDev, Karlan, Roth and Mullainathan summarize their work on debt traps – “Even when street vendors are freed from debt and educated about the benefits of saving, they go back to borrowing from moneylenders at exorbitant rates”
- “One of the IVs that has gotten overused in recent years - to the point where it eventually became a punchline - is rainfall”, and “if you have to use IV, stick to linear regression”. Marc Bellemare’s lecture notes on IVs.