Published on Development Impact

Weekly links January 26: learn to machine learn, that wellness program might only help with your multiple testing correction, working beats saving, and more...

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  • A couple of (non-development) NBER working papers (yes, they annoyingly are gated) of interest this week:
    • As the World Bank has become one of the latest organizations to have an employee wellness program, this newly released RCT looks at what the effect was of implementing such a wellness program on 12,000 employees at the University of Illinois (ungated version) – basically the program does nothing but act as a screening device and make employees think managers care about them “we do not find significant causal effects of treatment on total medical expenditures, health behaviors, employee productivity, or self-reported health status in the first year. Our 95% confidence intervals rule out 78 percent of previous estimates on medical spending and absenteeism... treatment group employees were much more likely to report that management places a high priority on worker health and safety”
      • The authors also wrote a Stata program for Westfall-Young multiple hypothesis testing, wyoung
    • Working longer beats saving for retirement: I was stunned by the numbers in this study of the relative impacts of working longer in life, vs saving more, in terms of increasing a household’s standard of living in retirement: “The basic result is that delaying retirement by 3-6 months has the same impact on the retirement standard of living as saving an additional one-percentage point of labor earnings for 30 years. The relative power of saving more is even lower if the decision to increase saving is made later in the work life. For instance, increasing retirement saving by one percentage point ten years before retirement has the same impact on the sustainable retirement standard of living as working a single month longer”
  • WBRO call: The World Bank Research Observer (WBRO) seeks to publish policy relevant surveys of development issues, aimed at a non-specialist audience. Papers for consideration at the Spring 2018 meeting of the WBRO Editorial Board should be submitted to the Editor ( no later than Friday, March 9, 2018.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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