Published on Development Impact

Blog links June 13, 2015: replication, beyond the top 5, the limits of meta-analysis, career motivations for health workers and more…

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  • No top 5s, no worries: On VoxEU John Gibson summarizes some of his new research which looks at the relationship between top 5 journal publications and salaries in the UC system “Even among tenured full professors, one in six have never published in the top-five journals; these without-top-five economists are found in eight of the nine University of California economics departments….Turning to the effect on salary, conditional on overall research output, there is no statistically significant penalty for economists lacking an article in top-five journals.”
  • 3ie has released the first of its papers replicating an existing study – a paper replicating Jensen and Oster’s QJE paper on the effects of cable television on women’s status in rural India. Jensen and Oster respond “We recognize the scientific merit of replication and fully support such efforts. We also appreciate the willingness of the authors to take on this (often contentious, and thankless) process, as well as the considerable amount of effort the authors have put  into their study. However, we disagree with the content and conclusions of their replication…It should also be emphasized to replicating authors that the goal of a replication is not to overturn the results of a previous paper.”.  The last section of their detailed reply has recommendations on how to improve the replication process.
  • Cyrus Samii on the limits of meta-analysis and “best evidence synthesis” as an alternative: “in very few cases will we have enough high quality and truly comparable studies for meta-analytic methods to be applied in a way that makes sense…we end up with reviews that compromise either on study quality standards or comparability standards so as to obtain a large enough set of studies to fulfill the sample size needs for conducting a meta analysis! These compromises are masked by the use of generic effect size metrics. This is the ultimate in the tail wagging the dog, and the result is a lot of crappy evidence synthesis”
  • Microcredit and poverty alleviation – the Economist’s Free Exchange blog on the Morocco microfinance RCT
  • Please do not teach this woman to fish – Foreign Policy on the limits to small-scale entrepreneurship in developing countries.
  • Poverty under the microscope – The Chronicle of Higher Education discusses the to and fro about RCTs and development with quotes from many of the usual suspects.
  • On the LSE Impact of social sciences blog, Orianna Bandiera discusses her research in Zambia testing the importance of emphasizing social motivations versus career motivations in recruiting health workers. Emphasizing career motivations attracts higher quality workers.
Finally for those in the U.S., happy father’s day this weekend – here’s my old post on Dads and Development as a now annual salute.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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