Published on Development Impact

Weekly links May 10, 2024: valuing difficult trade-offs, migration and structural transformation, graphing fine-tuning, and more…

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Young boxers at the White Collars Boxing Match 2019, taken by Mariajose Silva Vargas

·       How to value impacts for different people at different horizons in policy: The latest JEP has several papers around how research informs and is used for policy. Among these, Cass Sunstein explains how the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) assesses whether the benefits of a new regulation outweigh the costs – including how it thinks about measuring the value of life ($10-12 million),  discounting future benefits (3-7 percent rates, 2 percent over longer horizons), deal with distributional consequences (describe how different groups are affected, but debate around and not yet use of distributional weighting), whether to value benefits differently for U.S. citizens versus non-citizens and non residents (separately show if possible), dealing with and reporting uncertainty (try to provide a probability distribution of relevant outcomes), and more. Also in this issue, Emily Oehlsen describes how Open Philanthropy does “cause prioritization” – deciding what causes to focus on – using a framework of trying to equalize marginal philanthropic returns and also using a criteria of how important, neglected, and tractable the issue is. And several interesting differences from the OIRA approach “we currently value averting life-years lost equally all over the world, rather than relying on a local willingness to pay. Second, we explicitly depart from the common economics assumption of noncomparability of preferences—that is, we are willing to add up winners and losers and we apply a common (logarithmic) utility function over income for all people in the world. Finally, we generally use normative rather than market or government interest rates for valuing streams of utility.” She also goes into how they aim to explicitly measure and trade off health versus economic benefits “On the basis of this research, we decided provisionally to value a disability adjusted life-year approximately three times more than doubling a person’s income for one year”.

·       On VoxDev, Andrew Brudevold-Newman and co-authors compare the 1,2, and 6 year impacts of  a cash grant and microfranchising intervention in Kenya.  Both lead to lasting impacts on the proportion of young women self-employed (from a relatively low base), but neither has a lasting impact on labor income. Nevertheless, the franchising intervention had greater impacts on well-being measures.

·       Also on VoxDev, Dinkelman et al. look at the long-term impacts of temporary capital inflows from migrants in Malawi on structural transformation out of agriculture.

·       John Kane has a concise guide to using Stata’s graph editor.

·       Michal Kolesar’s advanced applied econometrics lecture notes.

·       Conference call: The Jobs and Development conference will be held in Cairo Oct 8-9, with submissions due June 13. The two-day format will feature keynote speeches, a policy panel, special sessions and about 50 paper presentations in parallel sessions. The event will focus on policy-relevant research, applicable to identifying solutions to jobs challenges in low- and middle-income countries.

David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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