Published on Development Impact

Weekly links July 29: the political economy of running a RCT, the peer review trade-off, work with me, and more…

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  • A couple of months ago I attended this very interesting conference by the Innovation Growth Lab run by Nesta. I was in a session with Mark Sayers from the UK’s Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which has been running an RCT on growth vouchers for 20,000 firms in the UK. He gave a talk on lessons learned from a policy side in engaging in such a trial – and I found it very interesting to hear the political economy side (Treasury only agreed to release the funding for a program they were somewhat skeptical of if it would be evaluated by an RCT). A video of his short talk is now up.
  • Slate piece on how journalists should cover working papers (based on the recent Fryer paper on racial bias in the use of lethal force). h/t Berk, who is reminded of his classic post on working papers not working.
  • Rachel Strohm on which African news stories are undercovered (h/t IPA).
  • The peer review trade-off?  Times Higher Education covers a new paper in PNAS which tries to model how peer review works through setting up an art competition in which participants rated one another’s work, and it was played out multiple times – they find “when participants were in competition with each other, and had to get high scores from their competitors to win money, they produced more diverse, innovative and abstract work in an attempt to mark themselves out from competitors…[but] the experiment also discovered that competition between the participants made them likely to behave “strategically”, marking down rivals to boost their own chances – a common fear about the peer review process.”
  • Submission deadline for the Fall WBRO: 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 2016 meeting of the Editorial Board of the Observer should be submitted at, no later than Monday, September 12, 2016.
  • Field Coordinator Position: to work on an impact evaluation in Nigeria on business growth that I am doing under a World Bank/Government of Nigeria project.
Development Impact will be on summer break in August, with the exception of occasional links.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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