I was recently invited to speak at the biannual infrastructure retreat of the IADB and was excited to learn that they had decided to devote two days of their retreat to discussing the development of an impact evaluation (IE) program in the transport sector. This is largest sector in most development banks, yet one that has not caught the IE bug. Perhaps this is because there is a perception that IE is difficult or impossible to incorporate into transportation projects.
Public programs are designed on assumptions - nice, tidy, convenient assumptions. Then they hit the real world and very little goes as planned. The culprit, some philosophically inclined would argue, is human behavior. After all, human beings are impossible to predict. They can react in ways entirely unexpected and fairly baffling …
… until you dig deeper.
… until you dig deeper.
- On Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok discusses new research on lottery-linked savings accounts.
- In the Economist, a plea for better data on time use.
I was recently working with an implementing agency to design an impact evaluation and we were having trouble reaching a point where there was going to be a viable impact evaluation that answered big questions about the efficacy of the intervention. Looking back, part of the problem was that this agency was the implementer, not the funder. And they were paid by the funder based on reaching a certain number of people and having those people participate in the program.
A good regression-discontinuity can be a beautiful thing, as Dave Evans illustrates in a previous post. The typical RD consists of controlling for a smooth function of the forcing variable (i.e. the score that has a cut-off where people on one side of the cut-off get the treatment, and those on the other side do not), and then looking for a discontinuity in the outcome of interest at this cut-off. A key practical problem is then how exactly to control for the forcing variable.
- A new database of impact evaluations conducted in South Asia
- Experimental evidence that hearing Spanish makes Republicans more anti-immigration.
- A useful blog post on how to come up with better titles for your papers.
The latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives contains a symposium on classic ideas in development: Doug Gollin on the Lewis model, Chang-Tai Hsieh and Ben Olken on the missing middle, Rafael La Porta and Andrei Shleifer on informality, and
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?