Published on Development Impact

Weekly links July 14: Sociologists versus behavioral economists, mobile phone surveys, biometrics, and more

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  • Skelly lays out 5 lessons from two mobile phone surveys in Mozambique. Among other takeaways, providing airtime incentives increased retention of respondents, but not by very much: from 45% up to 51%. (@ FHI360)
  • Using the example of mental accounting, three sociologists show what economists and psychologists may miss in their approach. (@ Andrew Gelman’s blog)
  • Hanna and McIntyre explain why implementing attendance monitoring and incentives for public sector service providers was easier in education than in health: In short, they reflect on some of the challenges with implementing through government systems (the health worker incentives) versus a non-government organization (the education worker incentives). Strikingly, even though the incentives were never actually implemented with the health workers, the monitoring system alone had modest effects on both attendance and health outcomes, which is nothing to sniff at. (@
  • Biometrics: Game changer or boondoggle?” Muralidharan and others discuss the results of using biometric authentication via fingerprints to reduce leakage in a welfare program in India. The results? “Unambiguously positive”: A big reduction in leakage of funds and an improved user experience for beneficiaries. (@
  • “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 Fall 2017 meeting of the Editorial Board of the Observer should be submitted at, no later than Monday, September 5, 2017.”
  • In an oldie but I-just-discovered-it, Andrew Gelman proposes the useful “time-reversal heuristic” for thinking about statistical findings that fail to replicate. (@ Andrew Gelman’s blog)
  • Today’s This Week in Africa provides 100+ curated links on the latest around the continent.
  • If you’re currently in graduate school and the math is getting you down, you can always hope for this professor! (@ xkcd)


David Evans

Senior Fellow, Center for Global Development

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