Friday links October 25: Cows, Cash, Measuring Consumption, CCTs and child labor, and more…
The Economist today has an article Pennies from Heaven on giving cash transfers to the poor - it discusses the recent Give Directly evaluation, Berk’s work in Malawi and overview piece on CCTs, my Ghana experiment, and more.
Impacts of a CCT program in the Philippines on child and adult labor , discussed in the Business Mirror.
Why do people hold cows? Daron Acemoglu and Jim Robinson have a detailed and interesting discussion on the Why Nations Fail blog about the importance of social context in answering this question, but still end up saying “we have no idea”. This relates of course to the paper by Dean Karlan and co-authors profiled in the Economist recently.
Economics is a Science argues Raj Chetty in the New York Times: “As is the case with epidemiologists, the fundamental challenge faced by economists — and a root cause of many disagreements in the field — is our limited ability to run experiments.”
The NBER Working paper series this week has several papers all about measurement of income and consumption: Crossley and Winter overview what we have learnt about measuring consumption in surveys ; Barrett et al. look at how macro and micro consumption measures vary over (developed) countries and time ; and Kreiner et al. use Danish tax registry data matched to household surveys to look at measurement error in reporting . From the Crossley and Winter paper: “evidence from a number of diary surveys with two weekly diaries suggests that compliance declines with the duration of record keeping. Apparent rates of expenditure in the second week of diary keeping are lower, sometimes substantially so. In addition to the between week differences, within week responses tend to be significantly larger for the earlier days of either week….it is almost a folk theorem that diary-based budget surveys set a ‘gold standard’ for measuring household expenditures. However, our review of the literature casts doubt on that conclusion.” Also interesting discussion on topics like the use of incentives for survey respondents, and other measurement issues.