Published on Development Impact

Weekly links March 4: all measures suck, make your work group thrive, lean research, and more…

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  • From the Next Billion blog, the lean research movement  - a push-back against surveys which are too long and too intrusive. The associated working paper contrasts the example of the Give Directly evaluation as “Hundred-question surveys that take hours to complete and enquire about deeply personal matters such as money, hygiene, and family relations show little respect for subjects’ time and well-being. For example, a recent survey of low-income Kenyan households took “up to six hours” to complete and involved the collection of saliva samples to test subjects’ stress hormone levels.“ against a goal of making the research “delightful” for subjects. Nevertheless, I was underwhelmed by their specific suggestions of what to do and there is no distinction between multi-purpose and one-off evaluative surveys – something like the IFLS is very long and has lots of questions on lots of topics which has led to a lot of research that was probably unanticipated at the time of survey design. In contrast, a 15 minute survey may be enough for a simple impact evaluation but preclude use of the data by others to answer other interesting questions.
  • Another forthcoming chapter for the Handbook of Field Experiments – Bertrand and Duflo on field experiments on discrimination
  • SIEF has a new webinar series, with Dave Evans discussing impact evaluation with guidance for journalists. Dave recommends minutes 23:10 to 32:39 as being of particular interest with 5 key principles for reporting on impact evaluation for journalists.
  • Call for Papers: NOVAFRICA conference on Economic Development in Africa, to be held in Portugal in July. Keynote speakers are Stefan Dercon, Ted Miguel, and myself. Also calls for LACEA/LAMES in Colombia; and the deadline has been extended until March 13 for the Annual Bank Conference on Africa, this year focusing on urbanization


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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