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Microfinance, RCTs and the big picture, look up your grandparents, and more...

David McKenzie's picture

Berk is on a plane, so you get your links a day early this week:

·         David Roodman summarizes the new microfinance randomized experiment in Bosnia – a new example of randomization among marginal MFI clients.

·         Evaluation on a budget – the IDB follows up on Martin Ravallion’s post on shoestring evaluations.

·         The latest Journal of Economic Literature issue has reviews of Poor Economics by Martin Ravallion and Mark Rosenzweig – interesting critiques of the experimental movement, and whether it neglects growth – Rosenzweig has an interesting discussion about whether many of the gains that look large in relative terms are small in absolute terms and asks whether the “potential remedies for the fundamental problems holding back income growth might be much cheaper, in dollars, to implement than the set of programs in total promoted in Poor Economics”. See my earlier review here and similar issues about whether we are merely making the lives of the poor better, or also aiding development in my review of Dean Karlan’s book.

·         What do you think is the greatest contribution of RCTs so far in development? – Esther Duflo answers in The Atlantic.

·         For those with Americans in the family, or just the merely curious: Beginning Monday you will be able to search the original data from the 1940 U.S. Census – names, addresses, effects of the Great Depression, etc.