- Surveying Cubans under the Castro regime from Monkeycage: “How do you conduct a reliable public opinion poll in a closely monitored society where political dissent is strictly repressed?... Interviewers recorded responses with handheld electronic devices. The responses then were downloaded to laptops and delivered to a server outside the country. Data was tabulated by B&A, and original responses on devices were deleted.”
- Michael Clemens has a new paper trying to clarify what replication is
- Youtube videos of Oriana Bandiera’s DIME workshop talk on designing public sector interventions, Cyrus Samii’s talk on Power Calculations: What and How in the Public Sector and Imran Rasul’s talk on Measurement Issues in Public Sector Impact Evaluations and slides/materials all here (h/t Dave Evans).
- Rachel Glennerster on what researchers can do to foster good relationships with implementing partners
This post is jountly authored by Martina Björkman Nyqvist, Lucia Corno, Damien de Walque and Jakob Svensson.
Conditional cash transfers (CCTs) and other types of financial incentives have been used successfully to promote activities that are beneficial to the participants such as school attendance and health check-ups for children. CCTs pay a certain amount if the condition is verified.
Lotteries can also be used as an incentive. Instead of being paid a certain amount, the participants who satisfy the condition receive a lottery ticket, a random draw is performed among the tickets, and a predetermined number of winners earn a lottery prize. The value of the lottery prizes would be higher than the typical CCT amount, but the number of recipients of the prizes would be lower.
- Pew research on “what we learned about surveying with mobile apps”: “Immediate responses and feedback can be helpful and revealing” but “App response rates were lower than Web rates overall and for each of the 14 surveys we conducted”
- Freakonomics asks “How do we know what really works in healthcare?” – a podcast about RCTs. I like this comment from a doctor about scaling up “I think Medicare’s comment was that it’s really hard to do. We’re not sure we could scale it. Well, we f***ing scaled open heart surgery. We scaled separating Siamese twins. We scaled transplanting hearts and lungs, curing complex cancers. We’re sequencing the human genome. You’re telling me we can’t have a nurse go out and check on your mom or grandmother in a highly organized, well-structured, well-trained intervention for which someone’s already doing it for hundreds and hundreds of patients every day?”
Today in the Upshot, Justin Wolfers heavily criticizes a recent study that has received lots of media attention claiming that child outcomes are barely correlated with the time that parents spend with their children. He writes:
Context: you are randomly selecting people for some program such as a training program, transfer program, etc. in which you expect less than 100% take-up of the treatment from those assigned to treatment. You are relying on an oversubscription design, in which more people apply for the course/program than you have slots.
- Does shaming people to pay taxes work? Yes according to an experiment in the U.S., but only if they don’t owe too much. (h/t @dinapomeranz)
- Chris Blattman offers his take on “Does Economics have an Africa problem?” – is it just me, or is is this whole debate a bit too Africa-centric? Economics has at least as much a Middle East problem, or Eastern Europe problem, or East Asia problem – in my view more if we compare the amount of research activity devoted to these other regions.
- Sana Rafiq discusses how behavioral biases affect our survey questions on the Let’s Talk Development blog, in the context of trying to replicate some of Sendhil Mullainathan’s scarcity work: when asking whether people would travel across town to get a bargain, “There is no guarantee that the product will still be there once I go across town. It’s very likely that the product is gone by the time I get there.” Of course! By assuming the availability of the product, we had let our own implicit biases, based on our mental models, influence the design of the question.”