Published on Development Impact

Weekly links May 15: nudges at scale and for handwashing, a bounty of richness in the P&P, doing DiD for COVID-19,and more…

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·       Video recording of Stefano DellaVigna’s recent seminar on "RCTs to Scale: Comprehensive Evidence from Two Nudge Units" – interesting comparison of how published results of nudge interventions compare to impacts when taken to scale “In papers published in academic journals, the average impact of a nudge is very large – an 8.7 percentage point take-up increase over the control. In the Nudge Unit trials, the average impact is still sizable and highly statistically significant, but smaller at 1.4 percentage points” – associated paper is here – looks at publication bias, role of power, and also at whether researchers and practitioners can forecast these results.

·       Useful short paper by Andrew Goodman-Bacon and Jan Marcus on things to watch out for in using difference-in-differences to estimate impacts of counter-COVID policies.

·       Nhu Le on the IDinsight blog on implementing nudges for handwashing in schools in the Philippines.

·       On VoxDev, Rebecca de Simone summarizes her job market paper on how more rigorous tax auditing of firms in Ecuador led to banks being more willing to lend.

·       The AEA Papers and Proceedings issue for 2020 is now available (and open-access currently). Some papers of likely interest to development economists include;

o   Marianne Bertrand’s Ely lecture on Gender in the 21st century – focusing on the role of gender stereotypes in explaining why women make different educational choices and labor supply decisions than men, and  what can be done to combat these stereotypes.

o   A session on research transparency, with papers on adoption of open science methods in economics; a proposed specification check for p-hacking (recommending reporting histograms of t-stats and effect sizes using every possible combination of control variables you could choose – with Stata command speccheck to implement this); an attempt to look at whether PAPs affect the publication of papers; and forecasts of results of three JDE registered reports.

o   A session on the economics of health epidemics, including a paper on the use of community care centers to reduce the spread of Ebola,  Imran Rasul on the economics of viral outbreaks, and Kremer et al. on lessons from a $1.5 billion pilot! of advance market commitments for a pneumococcal vaccine for low-income countries

o   A session on digital financial services in Africa: improving financial inclusion through digital saving in Kenya; mobile money transfers in Niger; adoption of mobile money in Mozambique; and mobile money and entrepreneurs in Malawi.

o   A session on measuring and understanding violence against women in developing countries: using community based targeting to identify victims of IPV in Peru; IPV programs in the DRC; using video dramas to reduce violence against women in Uganda; and spousal disagreement in reports of IPV in Kenya.

o   Reports of the editors of the AER [almost 2,000 submissions in 2019; only 4 of which had been accepted by end of November 1, 2019 (that’s not 4 percent, but 4); 3% of 2018 submissions now accepted and 2% in R&R status; 42/99 empirical papers published got exemptions to the data-posting policy, showing the rise of use of confidential admin data); report of the editor of AER Insights [around 600 submissions, 4% acceptance rate, 45% desk rejection rate, they don’t have a traditional R&R, so it is either conditional accept or reject]; of the editor of the AEJ Applied [786 submissions, of which 3 had been accepted by Nov 1, 2019; 4% of the 2018 submissions are now accepted and 1% in R&R status; they accepted 16/100 submissions where authors sent reports from AER or AER-Insights; 22/46 papers with data had exemptions to the data posting policy]; and of the AEA data editor [looking at all AEA journal data supplements, 73% use Stata, 22% use Matlab, 10% use none!, 4% SAS, only 3.8% R and even fewer python – the share of papers using Stata has remained roughly constant from 2010-2019 ]


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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