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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
[EDIT: I POSTED TOO HASTILY HERE, SEE AN ADDENDUM BELOW WHERE I AGREE WITH JUSTIN AFTER ALL]
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.

Tips for Randomization in the Wild: Adding a Waitlist

David McKenzie's picture
This is a relatively small point, but one that has come up several times in conversations in the last few months, so I thought it worth noting here.
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.

Blog links March 27: grants spur innovation, shaming tax scofflaws, the risks of piloting, why it is hard to work with academics, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • 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.”

Preregistration of studies to avoid fishing and allow transparent discovery

Berk Ozler's picture
The demand for pre-analysis plans that are registered at a public site prior available for all consumers to be able to examine has recently increased in social sciences, leading to the establishment of several social science registries. David recently included a link to Ben Olken’s JEP paper on pre-analysis plans in Economics. I recently came across a paper by Humphreys, de la Sierra, and van der Windt (HSW hereon) that proposes a comprehensive nonbinding registration of research. The authors end up agreeing on a number of issues with Ben, but still end up favoring a very detailed pre-analysis plan. As they also report on a mock reporting exercise and I am also in the midst of writing a paper that utilized a pre-analysis plan struggling with some of the difficulties identified in this paper, I thought I’d link to it a quickly summarize it before ending the post with a few of my own thoughts.

Weekly Links March 20: Giving away TOMS shoes, evaluating anti-terrorism interventions, Ben Olzer, and more...

Berk Ozler's picture

Bruce Wydick on the Impact of giving away TOMS Shoes: He gives kudos to TOMS for being open for evaluation and being responsive to findings, but what caught my eye was this observation: "The bad news is that there is no evidence that the shoes exhibit any kind of life-changing impact,..."

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