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Weekly links April 17: Reducing open defecation, pre-publication replication, free TORs, and so much more

David Evans's picture
1. Looking for breakfast reading?  A new study on improving rural sanitation (specifically investment in hygienic latrines) came out in Science yesterday, comparing (1) community motivation & information campaign, (2) subsidies, and (3) sales agents who gave advice on installation and gave referrals to latrine-building masons. Subsidies directly increased ownership by 22 percentage points (and by 8 percentage points among unsubsidized neighbors).

Presenting to policy vs. academic audiences: some thoughts

Markus Goldstein's picture
I've been doing a bunch of presentations recently to both policy and academic audiences and been reflecting a bit on what the differences in presenting to these two different kinds of audience. Here are a couple of thoughts -- additional contributions are welcome as this is probably a topic that could take up a blog of its own.
1.  Keep the language universal.   If you want to reach the whole audience, you have to keep the language at a level that everyone can understand.     This is pretty obvious, but there are a couple of traps here.

Weekly links April 10: Online IE education x 3; monkeynomics, surveying under repression, and more…

David McKenzie's picture

Risk, Sex and Lotteries. Can lotteries be used as incentives to prevent risky behaviors?

Damien de Walque's picture

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.

Be an Optimista, not a Randomista (when you have small samples)

Berk Ozler's picture
We are often in a world where we are allowed to randomly assign a treatment to assess its efficacy, but the number of subjects available for the study is small. This could be because the treatment (and its study) is very expensive – often the case in medical experiments – or because the condition we’re trying to treat is rare leaving us with two few subjects or because the units we’re trying to treat are like districts or hospitals, of which there are only so many in the country/region of interest.

Weekly links April 3: scaling up in perspective, surveying with mobile apps, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • 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?”

Can you measure flows over short periods? Aka why Justin Wolfers might (NOT) want to reconsider that parenting study

David McKenzie's picture
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:

Freely available data: The public good that keeps on giving?

Markus Goldstein's picture
David Evans blogged last week on some interesting impact evaluation work presented at the annual conference at the Center for the Study of African Economies, in Oxford, UK. We were at the conference too, and enjoyed it at least as much as David did.