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November 2015

Uncovering Variety in Sex Preferences When Some Parents Want Sons and Others Want Daughters: Guest Post by Johannes Norling

This is the third in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.

Gender disparities in educational attainment, labor market opportunities, political representation, and many other areas of economic and social activity generally favor men around the world (Schwab et al. 2014).  Gender also matters for perhaps the most fundamental activity of all: reproduction.  In China, India, and several other countries in Asia, parents with daughters often keep having children until they have sons.  Where parents want sons, girls tend to belong to larger families, leaving them at a disadvantage when family resources are spread thinly across many children (Jensen 2002).  Girls in many of these countries are also more likely than boys to be aborted or die in infancy (Guilmoto 2012).  Imbalanced sex ratios distort marriage markets and can have other harmful economic and social consequences.

Does Financial Inclusion Exclude? Formal Savings Reduces Informal Risk-Sharing Among Women in Kenya: Guest post by Felipe Dizon

This is the second in our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
 
In 2013 alone, donors pledged $31 billion to support financial inclusion programs—an attempt to deliver financial services to the 2 billion adults that do not have access to such services. In the past, microcredit and insurance programs received all of the attention, but improving the savings capacity of the poor and unbanked has recently drawn increasing attention as well. Access to a savings account has been shown to improve account holders' overall financial situation and their ability to cope with shocks.  In addition, access to savings may also lead to greater educational aspirations and completion of additional years of schooling for the children of account holders.

The Return of the Migrants: Do Employers Value their Foreign Work Experience? Guest Post by Paolo Abarcar

This is the first of our series of posts by students on the job market this year.
Return migration is an important channel through which migrant-sending countries stand to benefit from international migration. Experts often cite “brain gain” as its chief benefit: migrants not only bring back their original human capital but also new skills, connections, and experience acquired in foreign countries (see for example IOM 2008, Dayton-Johnson et al. 2009, and this UN report). But whether or not domestic employers in fact value foreign work experience in production processes at home is unclear. Skills learned abroad may be irrelevant. Worse, absence from the local labor market could be detrimental if the skills that employers value depreciate as a migrant spends time abroad. In my job market paper, I examine precisely this question: do employers actually value the foreign work experience of returning migrants?

Weekly links November 20: sensitive topics, nightlights, should you co-author? And more…

David McKenzie's picture

Who in this household has the final say?

Markus Goldstein's picture
Who in the household has decision making power over various things (kids going to school, health seeking behavior of individual members) either alone or jointly with someone else in the household makes up a set of questions that often find their way into surveys (e.g. a version is included in most Demographic and Health Surveys).  An interesting new paper by Amber Peterman and coauthors takes a hard look at these questions and what they might, or might not, be telling us.    

Weekly links November 6: 5 years of nudging, peer effects, not enough news in New Zealand again, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • The Behavioral Insights Team (aka Nudge unit) turns 5 – Psych report interview discusses the achievements and where they plan to go “two things I would point to that, personally, I am most proud of. The first is that I think we can say we have changed the way in which policy is made in Whitehall. People think about drawing on ideas from the behavioral sciences in a way that five years ago almost nobody did. Secondly, people now think about using randomized controlled trials as one of the policy tools that can be used to find out whether or not something works. Again, that was just not considered to be part of a policymaker’s toolbox five years ago. So rather than pointing to the successes of the interventions, I think I’m most proud of the fact that we’ve started to change the mindsets of policymakers in the UK government.”

“Fixed in our ways” – Our stubborn personalities can pose a challenge for subjective welfare data

Jed Friedman's picture

An increasing number of economists analyze subjective welfare data – which records a subject’s “happiness” or “life satisfaction” – as a complement to more traditional money-based measures of wellbeing such as income or consumption. Both the promise and the pitfalls of subjective welfare (SW) measures have been widely discussed, including in this blog here and here and here. One major challenge is the concern that fixed personal characteristics (such as someone’s “natural optimism”) determine SW responses to a far larger degree than time-varying economic factors. If that is the case then the usefulness of SW data for informing economic policy is not clear. Now two recent papers teach us more about the interpretive difficulties of SW in the presence of fixed individual characteristics.

Finally a matching grant evaluation that worked…at least until a war intervened

David McKenzie's picture
Several years ago I was among a group of researchers at the World Bank who all tried to conduct randomized experiments of matching grant projects (where the government funds part of the cost of firms innovating or upgrading technology and the firm the other part). Strikingly we tried on seven projects to implement an RCT and each time failed, mostly because of an insufficient number of applicants.