- Following on my book review of Grit, Lee Crawfurd uses surveys from 10 developing countries to examine the correlations between grit and income, years of education, and learning outcomes - and finds grit has a statistically significant correlation with schooling in each country (but explains very little of its variation), and has no significant correlations with either income earned or learning achieved.
- A summary of the evidence on the effects of naturalization/becoming a citizen on labor market outcomes via IZA World of Labor
- Tim Harford on experiments on incentivizing workers, including new work by John List and co-authors on incentivizing pilots “If you want people to do a good job, tell them what success looks like to you — and that you’ve noticed when they’ve achieved it.”
- The p-hacker app by Felix Schönbrodt – train your expert p-hacking skills.
- How development can go horribly wrong on a small island – Australia’s Earshot podcast on the Secret History of Nauru (look for episode 6/12/2016) – including phosphate mining, offshore banking, and even an investment in one of the worst WestEnd musicals
- Bruce Wydick on how development economists need to do more diagnosis before trying to measure impact
- Papers and keynote presentations from the ABCDE conference this week are now up online
- NEUDC will take place at MIT Sloan Nov 5-6, with submissions due August 15. So get busy working on those papers this summer.
- Chris Blattman summarizes a new working paper that shows how legalizing the ivory trade increased ivory smuggling.
- From VoxEU, how to evaluate industrial cluster policies, based on the IADB’s experience.
- From the IADB’s Development that Works blog, a nice description and photos of a simulated patient study that aimed to see whether indigenous women in Peru receive different advice from family planning clinics than mestizo women? No – but the quality of care was bad for both types.
- Econthatmatters does a round-up of the development-related research at the recent association of environmental and resource economists’ conference
- The Economic History Society has started a blog called “The Long Run”, although they only have a post up saying they are starting the blog at the moment.
Last week the “State of Economics, State of the World” conference was held at the World Bank. I had the pleasure of discussing (along with Martin Ravallion) Esther Duflo’s talk on “The Influence of Randomized Controlled Trials on Development Economics Research and on Development Policy”. The website should have links to the papers and video stream replay up (if not already, then soon).
The first part of Esther’s talk traced out the growth in RCTs in development economics. She pointed out that in 2000 the top-5 journals published 21 articles in development, of which 0 were RCTs, while in 2015 there were 32, of which 10 were RCTs – so pretty much all the growth in development papers in top journals comes from RCTs. She also showed that the more recently BREAD members had received their PhD, the more likely they were to have done at least one RCT.
In my discussion I expanded on these facts to put them in context, and argue against what I see as a couple of strawman arguments: 1) that top journals only publish RCTs, and that RCTs have taken over development research; and 2) that young researchers have a “randomize or bust” attitude and refuse to do anything but RCTs. I thought I’d summarize what I said on both here.
- From VoxEU – people in developing countries not only earn a lot less than those in developed countries, they also work longer hours and have less leisure – as a result “Adults in poor countries …are even less productive than we thought.”
- All the Stata cheatsheets from Geocenter in one place
- In Scientific American: does financial stress literally hurt?
- In the Washington Post wonkblog, more evidence why the Marshmallow test is probably not measuring what you think it is – “this uncovers a broader problem with how we perceive the actions of people who live very different lives than we do. We brand certain actions and choices as mistakes, when they might simply be developmental adjustments necessary to cope with their environment. For those who don't worry about their next meal, because they never had to, choosing a marshmallow now instead of two marshmallows in a few minutes, all things equal, could only be the result of impulse-driven folly. For those who do have to worry about the next meal, passing up food now for the promise of food later is the misguided move.”
On May 25, I attended a workshop organized by the Harvard School of Public Health, titled “Causal Inference with Highly Dependent Data in Communicable Diseases Research.” I got to meet many of the “who’s who” of this literature from the fields of biostatistics, public health, and political science, among whom was Elizabeth Halloran, who co-authored this paper with Michael Hudgens – one of the more influential papers in the field.
- Rachel Glennerster on how the “small questions” RCTs have been argued to offer have in fact helped provide a big answer in public health
- Planet Money put together a nice podcast about the Nigerian business plan competition I evaluated
- On VoxEU Stefano Dellavigna and Devin Pope summarize work comparing the relative effectiveness of different types of monetary and non-monetary incentives in inducing effort, and a goal effort to compare the results with what experts predict….with the most menial task imaginable “M-Turk participants… task for the subjects is to alternately press the "a" and "b" buttons on their keyboards as quickly as possible for ten minutes.”