Published on Development Impact

Weekly links April 28: profiling economists, DiD with controls, reducing absenteeism, young people go to the office, and more…

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·       On the Yale EGC page: A nice profile of our former colleague in the research department, Beata Javorcik, now the chief economist at the EBRD. Also, the AEA’s CSMGEP (committee on the status of minority groups in the economics profession) has a nice set of profiles of economists, with the current featured profile on Francisca Antman. I also have a soft spot for Randall Akee’s profile “small groups, big economic stories” where he discusses what economics can learn from studying small groups such as Native Americans and Micronesians.

·       Nick HK’s substack Data, On Average discusses issues involved in using controls/covariates in difference-in-differences estimation. One reason is regression to the mean in time-varying covariates. With TWFE, then you are only controlling for changes in these covariates, and if counterfactual paths depend on levels, then you are in trouble. With treatment heterogeneity, the average effect you can estimate will “heavily reflect the effects of treated groups that have covariate values that are super uncommon relative to the untreated group”. And a nice description of Wooldridge’s approach “Turns out a lot of the problems with using TWFE to estimate DID can be solved by firing a giant cartoon cannon labeled “interaction terms” at the problem until it gives up and agrees to estimate your parameter. “  

·       On VoxDev, Damien de Walque and Christine Valente summarize an experiment on reducing pupil absenteeism in Mozambique that tests a standard CCT (cash to parents), against just providing information to parents, and giving vouchers to the girls instead. “we find that these lower-cost alternatives were at least as effective in increasing attendance and improved learning more than the parent incentives….. More generally, our results give support to the hypothesis that children have agency in decisions concerning their education”

·       In the Washington Post, Emily Nix has a nice summary of some of her work using the amazing Finnish data that enables her and her co-authors to trace out what happens to the employment and earnings of women in abusive relationships: “Victims’ employment rates fell 12 percent and their earnings declined 26 percent, when matched against similar women with non-abusive partners….We found that when a woman has more outside economic options, there is a five percentage point jump in the probability that she leaves her abuser. Giving victims of domestic violence the resources to restore financial independence and walk away might be one of the best ways we can help.”

·       The New York Times covers a recent paper on the Power of Proximity: “Natalia Emanuel, Emma Harrington and Amanda Pallais — studied engineers at a large technology company. They found that remote work enhanced the productivity of senior engineers, but it also reduced the amount of feedback that junior engineers received (in the form of comments on their code), and some of the junior engineers were  more likely to quit the firm.” – but there is a trade-off and which helps argue for hybrid work and flexibility “…highlights a particular challenge for companies and workers navigating return-to-office tensions: The career penalty for remote work may be greatest for women, young people and people of color, who often lack the professional networks that being in the office can help provide. But numerous surveys find that those same groups of workers are also the ones who value flexible arrangements the most, and who are the least likely to return to the office voluntarily”

·       On the DevPolicy blog, Ryan Edwards and Daniel Suryadarma provide a summary of seven papers in a journal special issue devoted to women’s participation in online marketplaces in developing countries.

·       Funding call: The IPA and J-PAL Displaced Livelihoods Initiative (DLI) supports rigorous impact evaluations, pilots, exploratory studies, infrastructure and public goods projects, and scaling work to inform policies and programs on sustainable livelihoods for displaced populations and host communities. The inaugural call for proposals is now open – deadline of June 2 for optional EOI, and July 21 for proposals.

·       Short-term job opening for work on meta-analysis & ALMPs: “The World Bank Social Protection & Jobs unit is hiring a consultant to support a global evidence review and meta-analysis of youth ALMPs over the next months. Click here for details.”


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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