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What is the “good life”? Can we measure it?

Jed Friedman's picture

Material consumption is the basis of traditional welfare measurement in economic practice. For example

-          In standard economic models, an individual’s investment choices are often determined with respect to the discounted streams of expected lifetime consumption under different scenarios.

Getting serious about learning how to overcome women’s economic barriers

Markus Goldstein's picture

coauthored with Alaka Holla

 So two weeks ago we talked about how we don’t know enough about economically empowering women and last week we talked about power issues when measuring this in “gender-blind” interventions.   This week we’d like to make some suggestions about how, with small effort, we could make serious progress in learning meaningful things about how to increase the earning capacity of women.   

New research on getting people into jobs

David McKenzie's picture

Jobs or the lack thereof dominate policy discussions around the world, with Governments everywhere facing a shortage of evidence as to which programs work in generating new employment and in helping particular groups of the unemployed find new jobs. I spent part of last week at the NBER summer institute, where papers in the Labor Studies and Entrepreneurship sessions were focused on employment.

Misinformation and its consequences

Berk Ozler's picture

You’ve seen the scenario on “Law and Order” many times: the defense lawyer tosses out a wild accusation that the person on the witness stand (or someone else related to the case) is the real killer – with no evidence whatsoever behind it. Jurors have now heard about an alternative suspect for the crime. The judge proclaims that the jurors “must disregard the last statement.” But, can they?

The promise of participatory women’s groups in South Asia: Can education and empowerment save lives?

Jed Friedman's picture

Each year almost 4 million children die within the first four weeks of life, many from preventable or treatable causes. Much programmatic aid is now devoted to devising ways to ensure that simple effective health practices, such as ensuring a more sterile birth environment, are adopted on a wide scale. A number of recent evaluations from South Asia suggest that the active involvement of local women’s groups in problem solving can be among the most cost-effective interventions to prevent deaths.

gender power doesn't come cheap

Markus Goldstein's picture

coauthored with Alaka Holla

As we argued last week, we need more results that tell us what works and what does not for economically empowering women. And a first step would be for people who are running evaluations out there to run a regression that interacts gender with treatment.   Now some of these will show no significant differences by sex.   Does that mean that the program did not affect men and women differently? No. Alas, all zeroes are not created equal.  

An underappreciated benefit of experiments: convincing politicians when their pet projects don’t work

David McKenzie's picture

New York City has suspended payments in a pay-for-performance program for teachers after an experiment found the program had not worked. From the New York Post:

Another attempt by the city to improve student performance through cash payments has failed, much to the surprise of Mayor Bloomberg.

Questions around consent in cluster impact evaluations

Jed Friedman's picture

The basic principles of ethical research as laid out in the Belmont Report include “respect for persons”, which stipulates that all individuals should be treated as autonomous agents. Typically this principle is translated into practice with a statement read to all study subjects concerning the voluntary nature of study participation and the freedom to withhold consent. These ethical guidelines largely derive from medical trials where individual targeting of an intervention such as an experimental drug is typical.

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