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Friday links: Jobs, blogs, eating veges, paying teachers, and more...

David McKenzie's picture

·         The On think tanks blog examines Martin Ravallion’s work on the demand for research within the World Bank and compares it with its own work on whether research and evaluations are being used effectively by DFID staff.

·         A View from the Cave now has voting going on for their best in aid blogs. We are among the finalists in several categories, so consider voting for us here.

·         A summary of 4 impact evaluations in Latin America from the IADB Development that works blog.

·         An n=2 experiment – putting photos of fruits and veges on lunch trays makes kids put more of these on these plates – public radio story here – JAMA article here…and RAs next time I ask you to clean some messy data, think about collecting this… “After lunch, we collected and weighed all the uneaten vegetables from the containers, tables, and floor.”

·         A summary of what evaluations in the U.S. teach us about the impact of merit pay on teacher retentions courtesy of the Washington Post blog.

·         For our French-speaking readers courtesy of the J-PAL e-newsletter – a story summarizing work by Esther Duflo and others on whether reinforced job placement services for young jobseekers in France have displacement effects – they use a clustered randomized trial to see whether such help crowds out job opportunities for others. A preliminary English version of the paper is here – let us know if the French says something different – it seemed to in my limited reading.

·         A call for papers for one of my favorite conferences – the now annual AFD/WB (and now CGD) migration and development conference – it will be in Paris in June, submissions due March 15.


This is not the first article I have run across which brings into question the effectiveness of incentive pay in education. Part of the reason for this might be that those in that profession are really striving to make a difference in the world by helping kids. This can be much more motivating than pure monetary rewards. In addition, there is research that incentive pay in knowledge work settings can actually be counter-productive. Thanks for the great links!

Particularly for @David Waltz, but for anyone as well. I have not seen any research on incentive pay and motivation in knowledge work that is remotely credible. Much of it traces to Edmund Deci's work with children and college students over very small scale time horizons. There is no reason to believe that such research tells us anything useful about the effect of incentives on adults over extended periods of time. This is not to say that there is good research that says that incentive pay has a materially positive impact on motivation either. My current belief is that we actually don't know much that is useful on this topic. I'm happy for anyone to point me to good evidence pointing in either direction on this issue.

Submitted by Alexis on
The French summary of Duflo's study is somewhat different from the English paper. The French version says that there are negative externalities for non-treated job seekers. Actually, they do not find any negative externalities for the whole sample but they notice that most of the job seekers are looking for jobs in the same sectors (it's not surprising, they are all young and have a degree). When the sample is restricted to job seekers who are looking for jobs in sectors with the highest demand, they find some negative externalities. For instance, the negative effect on non-treated is -6.9 percentage points in sectors that represent 25% of the most asked jobs. Table 7 in the link below: This result is not included in the English version. It gives a different image of the impact of the program. It seems to me that it makes sense to look at potential negative externalities in sectors where the treated make up a sizable amount of the job seekers.