Published on Development Impact

Weekly links Feb 28: scaling up is hard redux, mediation analysis, scripted lessons, and more…

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·       Using economics to allocate food more efficiently among foodbanks – an interesting interview with Canice Prendergast about using market mechanisms in an NGO setting (h/t Susan Athey).

·       Jeff Bloem summarizes a new review paper by Anandi Mani and Emma Riley on social networks, role models, peer effects and aspirations in low and middle-income countries.

·       The latest CSAE Coder’s Corner discusses how to implement in Stata the Acharya et al. approach to mediation analysis

·       On VoxDev, Panle Jia Barwick and co-authors summarize their research showing the impacts of air quality monitoring and disclosure in China – using the staggered roll-out of this program, they show when the public became aware of the issue, purchases of air purifiers more than doubled, home values in high pollution areas fell, and deaths due to air pollution exposure fell.

·       A thread of resources on web scraping for economists started by @causalinf

·       The journal Nature will soon appoint an economics editor, and this editorial gives an idea of the sorts of areas where they are interested in contributions from economists.

·       “Scripted lessons are controversial in education. Dave Evans and Ben Piper pull together evidence from 13 countries suggesting that providing detailed lesson plans for teachers – stopping far short of scripting – may work better.”

·       I only just got around to listening to this Freakonomics podcast episode on the challenges of scalability. Not sure it offered any particularly new insights, but it features John List and Dana Suskind talking about a lot of the reasons things fail to scale – with the nice analogy of deciding whether your pet project is like a fancy restaurant that depends heavily on a particular chef, or whether it can be Papa Johns where the secret sauce is actually just a sauce. Also List on when you are ready to scale “we need the original research and then three or four well-powered, independent replications of the original findings.”



David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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