Published on Development Impact

Weekly links May 21: Chinese sex ratios and dangerous jobs, sharing results with participants, 1970s development revisited, and more…

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·       On the CGD blog, Samantha Friedlander, Mikaela Rabb, Caroline Tangoren, Jenny Aker, Sule Alan and Christopher Udry discuss the ethical and logistical issues of whether and how to share research results with participants.  This is something I blogged about in the first year of our blog, noting at the time that we did not have a lot of documented experiences of how this has been done in different studies, and some of the issues faced in practice. This new post provides a good set of experiences to learn from.

·       On the IDInsight blog, Christy Lazicky, Torben Fischer and Michael Otieno discuss the use of mystery shopper surveys to assess the on-the-job skills of youth who have gone through employment readiness training programs: “we developed a scripted interaction that enumerators had to strictly follow. This involved greeting the employee, asking to be shown a specific product, and asking for that product in a lower price range….it was important for us to assess whether an employee would maintain composure under pressure. Through piloting, we realized that it would not be possible to simulate this through an “angry customer” without causing noticeable disruption in the store. Consequently, we opted to turn up the pressure by attempting to rush the employee to find something, which proved to be more realistic.” Also discussion of the issues involved in identifying which employee you want to measure, and of making sure mystery shoppers look and act the part for the type of store you are working in.

·       YouTube video of Guido Imbens’ Sargan Lecture on Causal Panel Data Models

·       The Planet Money newsletter summarizes a new working paper that looks at the long-run impacts of a lottery for pre-K for 4-years in Boston “The kids who got accepted into preschool ended up having a high-school graduation rate of 70% — six percentage points higher than the kids who were denied preschool, who saw a graduation rate of only 64%. And 54% of the preschoolers ended up going to college after they graduated — eight percentage points higher than their counterparts who didn't go to preschool. These effects were bigger for boys than for girls.”

·       On the Future Development blog, Farrukh Iqbal revisits a 1970s textbook on “leading issues in development economics” to discuss how the profession’s view of the links between trade and development have changed over the past 50 years.

·       Over at the CGD blog, Dave Evans, Pam Jakiela, and Heather Knauer recount the results of their systematic review of the impact of early childhood development interventions on mothers (and other caregivers). In brief, very few studies measure impacts on mothers (despite there being plausible channels for impact), but among those that do, many (but not all) impacts are positive, either on mothers’ labor force participation or their mental health.

·       On Project Syndicate, Shang-Jin Wei discusses some of the implications of China’s imbalanced sex ratio “…a large number of young men being unable to marry. In mathematical terms, about one in nine young men in China cannot find a girlfriend or wife…young men – and especially parents with unmarried sons – increase their savings rates substantially in order to enhance their relative competitiveness in the dating and marriage markets….a rise in China’s male-female ratio may have contributed to between one-third and one-half of the increase in its trade surplus with other countries….China’s unbalanced male-female ratio also contributes to unsafe workplace practices, leading to many preventable injuries and deaths. A shortage of potential brides causes many parents with sons of marriageable age to work more and seek higher-paying but potentially dangerous jobs in sectors such as mining and construction, or jobs exposing them to hazardous materials and extreme heat or cold”

·       Conference call for papers: the 14th international conference on migration and development will take place from 9-11 September, hosted by the University of Luxembourg, with submissions due June 15. This is one of my favorite annual conferences, and always has a great set of papers that remind us that studying migration is about a lot more than just asking whether immigrants lower the wages of natives! The conference will likely be hybrid, with both in-person and virtual participation.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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