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Weekly links April 21: hostile attitudes to random assignment, scaling up, we make it easier to search the blog, contagious exercise, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • Jeff Smith on the attitudes of program operators in the U.S. to random assignment in their programs “hostile attitudes to random assignment were deeply embedded and yielded not at all to any sort of rational argument…the random assignment requirement reinforced both their feelings that they had lost control as well as their resentment of the process”
  • In Nature Communications, exercise is socially contagious- using weather shocks with presumably Strava data to show that if your friends in a different city run, you are more likely to as well. May be of interest to those who don’t care about exercise in terms of the discussion of complexity of using weather patterns that move across space (so today’s Boston weather is uncorrelated with today’s Chicago weather, but then Chicago’s weather today helps predict Boston’s in two days); and for social network analysis. Or the next time someone uses rainfall as an instrument for income shocks, you can just annoy the seminar by asking about whether they considered the exercise response… But the downside of social networks is seen in this week’s Hidden Brain podcast, which uses a natural experiment to show the causal impact of Facebook on making you compare yourself more to others and be less happy.
  • Thanks for all the great feedback on how we can improve the blog and continue to make it useful. One request from readers was to make it easier to find stuff. We are pleased that the search window on the blog has now changed to restrict searches to World Bank blogs and use google search (unfortunately we can’t get it to restrict to searching Development Impact only). But it is still a big improvement – I tried out a search for “pre-analysis plan” and it came up with mostly reasonable and relevant hits. So try out the search window at the top of our main blog page and let us know what you think. Note though that one annoying thing is that if you want to do a second search after the results of the first, the search window on the results page reverts back to searching the entire World Bank  -so go back to the blog main page to restrict search to blogs only.
Call for Papers: Conference on Stunting

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