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Weekly links January 23: aid vs conflict, nudging Guatemalans, how the poor think, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • Soap Operas and Development: Business Week summarizes a lot of recent work and some ongoing work on using soap operas to change behaviors.
  • When the nudge unit went to Guatemala – results from efforts to increase tax collection from changes in the phrasing of tax letters etc.
  • The Deliberative Lives Project: “The goal of the project is to do something similar as “Portfolios of the Poor” or “Economic Lives of the Poor”, but for thoughts and decisions. A novel feature is that everyone can contribute to design and data analysis: the (de-identified) data will be posted online in real-time as it is collected, and anyone can download and analyze it. Similarly, questionnaires will be developed with input from anyone who wants to give it.”

 

What you don't know can hurt you: Malaria edition

Markus Goldstein's picture
You are feeling not so well.   You go to the doctor.   She is a good doctor.   She runs some tests, tells you nothing is wrong with you and you leave, ready to get back to work.   Why are you so much more ready to work now then you were before you saw your doctor?  
 

Can incentives lead to sustained impacts? The case of rewarding safe sex.

Damien de Walque's picture
Economists believe that incentives matter and that they can be used for changing people’s behaviors. Incentives are used for encouraging school attendance and performance or for increasing the coverage and quality of health care delivery. But a recurrent question is what happens once the incentives are discontinued? Are the incentives’ effects going to be sustained even after their payment is stopped because individuals would have been nudged towards a different behavior? Or are those effects going to die down and disappear once incentives are removed?

How standard is a standard deviation? A cautionary note on using SDs to compare across impact evaluations in education

Guest post by Abhijeet Singh
Last week on this blog, David wondered whether we should give up on using SDs for comparing effect sizes across impact evaluations. I wish that question was asked more often in the field of impact evaluations in education, where such comparisons are most rife. In this post, I explore some of the reasons why such comparisons might be flawed and what we might do to move towards less fragile metrics.

Blog links Jan 9 2015: Angrist and Niederle on pre-analysis, problems of phase-ins, French-speaking field coordinators needed, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • Field coordinator position: we are looking for a French speaker to help oversee surveys of informal firms in Benin. TOR and details.
  • Field coordinator position: three positions for French speakers to work with the Africa Gender Innovation Lab on Youth Employment projects.
  • Call for papers: the annual bank conference on Africa, to be held June 8-9 at Berkeley – submissions due Jan 31.

Impact as Narrative: Guest post by Bruce Wydick

There is arguably little that makes development economists sharpen their fangs as the use of tear-jerking, heart-warming, credit-card-mobilizing anecdotes by development NGOs to support impact claims.   Recently in an informal conversation about NGO websites at a recent conference, Paul Niehaus half-jokingly suggested that a good use of graduate research assistant time might be a compilation of the top 25 most egregious “impact” webpages, based purely on narratives of outliers by (well-meaning) non-profits.  If nothing else, it would serve as an excellent tool for teaching undergraduates about

Notes from the AEAs: Present bias 20 years on + Should we give up on S.D.s for Effect Size?

David McKenzie's picture
I just got back from the annual meetings of the American Economic Association (AEAs) in Boston. It’s been a couple of years since I last went, and after usually going to just development conferences, it was interesting to see some of the work going on in other fields. Here are a few notes:
 

Weekly links December 19: Savings, basic incomes, skill gaps & M&Ms, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • On the FAI blog Tim Ogden discusses what we mean by savings when we talk about it as an outcome.
  • A snapshot of the job market this year from 538 – what the next generation of economists is working on? Development is pretty popular, corporate finance and international economics not so much.
  • Testing basic incomes: the Guardian reports on an experiment in India, where Unicef funded an unconditional basic income scheme. A “modified randomized control trial” (whatever that is) assigned everyone in 8 treatment villages to receive a monthly income for 18 months, with 12 control villages: “the basic incomes resulted in more economic activity and work. Conventional labour statistics would have picked that up inadequately. There was a big increase in secondary economic activities, as well as a shift from casual wage labour to own-account farming and small-scale business” Haven’t come across an academic paper with the results or more details.

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