Published on Development Impact

Blog links January 24, 2014: Financial education in schools, mental accounting, big data, and more…

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  • A new Finance & PSD Impact note looks at the impact of financial education in schools in Brazil.
  • From the New York Times – US evidence on what happens when the poor receive a substantial stipend – based on casino payouts to poor Cherokee families – “The frequency of behavioral problems declined by 40 percent, nearly reaching the risk of children who had never been poor…Minor crimes committed by Cherokee youth declined. On-time high school graduation rates improved….those who were youngest when the supplements began had benefited most. They were roughly one-third less likely to develop substance abuse and psychiatric problems in adulthood, compared with the oldest group of Cherokee children and with neighboring rural whites of the same age.”
  • In Pacific Standard – an interesting article about how big data in politics is not really that big. – and echoes of Leonard Wantchekon’s work: “In 2012, the Obama campaign famously experimented with fundraising emails to its supporters—trying out different messages, subject lines, formats, and more. Because it had information about these supporters from the voter file and elsewhere, it could see whether certain kinds of supporters responded more to certain kinds of emails. This generally wasn’t the case. “Usually the winning email was universal”….and the challenge for evaluation “Perhaps most notable is that the campaign’s biggest expense, television advertising, was subject to very little testing. This is no strike against the Obama campaign. Testing TV advertising in the field is very difficult: campaigns are understandably reluctant to treat certain television markets as a control group, and thereby allow the opponent to run ads unopposed in those markets.”….and on external validity “And experimental findings can have a short shelf life. Obama’s digital analytics team discovered that the effects of some tweaks to their emails seemed to wear off as the campaign went on.”
  • The FAI website has a conversation between Tim Ogden and myself on the role of mental accounting in explaining small business growth.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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