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Weekend links: DC school vouchers, food aid, what to do after a conference, and more…

David McKenzie's picture

·         If a program is “obviously working”, does it need an impact evaluation? Markus Olapade reflects on this on the 3ie blog.

·         From the InDecision blog – 4 things we vow to do after every conference but rarely do – good advice. E.g. “Reading the program is potentially much more valuable than reading the latest issue of any journal. Journal research is 3 years old—conference research is much fresher” and “you vow to focus on the important things. You vow to take a step back, evaluate your career, and start doing research that makes a difference. However you return home and on Monday morning you dive into a data set and all that desire to really focus on the bigger picture goes away.”

·         Marc Bellemare summarizes a couple of recent papers on food aid, discussing why local and regional procurement is better.

·         The impact of private school vouchers on high school graduation in Washington D.C. on Phys.org: using a D.C. voucher was determined to increase a student's likelihood of graduating by 21 percentage points, from 70 to 91 percent…also discussion of multiple lotteries: “Assigning students to treatment and control groups in the D.C. program presented a unique challenge to Wolf's team, he said. "In D.C., the law mandated that students be awarded scholarships by lottery if the program was over-subscribed, but it also said that certain students had to be given priority for awards..We had to figure out how to do that and end up with similar treatment and control groups. The team randomly selected students within the priority groups and treated each group as a separate experiment.”

·         In Science this week, Benartzi and Thaler discuss retirement savings and the four essential ingredients: availability, automatic enrollment, automatic investment, and automatic escalation…”we estimated the effect of automatic escalation, because automatic enrollment can have an ambiguous effect on the average saving rate. We contacted the largest 25 companies that administer retirement plans, which service roughly 90% of participants in DC plans…At the current utilization level of automatic escalation, 11% of participants boost their salary deferral rates by 3% over 3 years, which results in an average increase of 0.33% for the universe of plan participants…We estimate that automatic escalation boosted annual savings by $7.4 billion”

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