Published on Development Impact

Friday links Feb 8: the impact of going to the Maldives, skills training in Liberia, plastic bag removal in San Fran and more...

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·         Early results from a skills training program for young women in Liberia show massive increases in employment and earnings – although a randomized pipeline design whereby the control group get the treatment about one year after the treatment group raise concerns about strategic delay by the control group and how long-term impacts could be measured.

·         The impact of going on holiday to a nice place – the treatment group got sent to the Maldives, Peru, or Thailand! Impact is to cut blood pressure, increase sleep, and help recuperation from stress. N=12 so obviously this study needs to get redone on a larger scale with me in the treatment group – I’m also happy to have smaller N and larger T in this case!

·         Steven Landsburg covers work by a student on the job market who looks at how stress and effort when applying for one job depend on having a job offer in hand.

·         The impact of San Francisco’s grocery plastic bag ban is an increase in emergency room visits for E coli infections – Tim Taylor covers a new paper showing this, with a couple of striking figures. So wash those recyclable bags people!

·         Revisiting the RAND health experiment 30 years on – the latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives has a paper re-examining the $295 million health insurance experiment which looks at how individuals’ utilization of health care services varies with their level of health insurance coverage – and the difficulties of moving from treatment effects to price elasticities when contracts are nonlinear. “At the time of the RAND Health Insurance Experiment, it was vigorously argued that medical care was determined by “needs,” and therefore was not sensitive to price…the RAND experiment was instrumental in rejecting this view…Our reexamination concludes that despite the potential for substantial bias in the original estimates stemming from systematically differential participation and reporting across experimental arms, one of the central contributions of the RAND experiment is robust: the rejection of the null hypothesis that health spending does not respond to the out-of-pocket price….it will always be the case that, like the famous – 0.2 price elasticity of demand estimate produced by the original RAND investigators, any attempt by researchers to apply the experimental estimates out of sample will involve more assumptions—and hence scope for uncertainty—than the direct experimental estimates themselves.”

·         Looking for a summer development conference in Paris? Call for papers for the DIAL development conference, focused on institutions and development (papers due next week)


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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