Published on Development Impact

Weekly links May 7: Team research grows, getting someone to answer their phone in Mexico City is hard, boosting testing rates for diabetes in Armenia, and more…

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·       The latest SIEF from evidence to policy note summarizes an experiment in Armenia by Damien de Walque and co-authors that tested different approaches to get 35-68 year olds to get tested for diabetes and hypertension.  “After five months, people in the control group had very low screening rates: a mere 3.5 percent of people got screened for diabetes and hypertension. The personal invitation [from a physician] increased this rate to about 18.5 percent, with no additional impact from either the unconditional voucher or from the statistics about peers’ screening. The pharmacy voucher that was conditional on screening however [a US$10 incentive, also accompanied by the personal invitation], was the most effective, nearly doubling the percentage of people who got screened to 34.7 percent. Since it was more expensive to implement, however, the conditional voucher and the personal invitation alone were equally cost-effective.”

·       On the CGD blog, Amber Peterman reflects on experiences asking women and children indirectly about violence in remote surveys. Also on the CGD blog, Tara Beteille and co-authors ask whether and when teacher pay-for-performance works in developing countries.

·       In a short research note, Andrew Dillon and co-authors summarize experiences on response rates from random digit dial phone surveys done in nine countries in 2020 as part of COVID-19 measurement efforts. Survey completion rates range from a low of 6.3% in Mexico City to 58.9% in Burkina Faso – these are all for numbers that had been pre-verified as working, and the main issue is just respondents not answering the phone no matter how many times the interviewer calls or refusing right away. There are very few people who complete only part of a survey – conditional on starting the survey, around 95% or more finish it in most countries.

·       The Spring 2021 Journal of Economic Perspectives has its usual interesting mix of papers. In particular:

o   Ben Jones ironically solo-authors a paper on the rise of research teams in economics: “papers with two or more authors constituted only 19 percent of economics journal articles in 1960, this share rose to 44 percent in 2000 and 74 percent in 2018. Moreover, team-authored papers in economics have increasing impact advantages over solo-authored papers. By 2010, a team was three times more likely to produce a highly cited paper than a solo author, an advantage that has grown steadily with time”. There is also discussion for the costs of this in terms of assessing contributions and making promotion decisions etc. “solo-authored work in the early career has become extremely rare. By 2010, the typical early publication record shows just one solo publication. This (new) regularity appears across economists of different impact profiles and regardless of how prolific they are in general. The decline of solo-authored work comes despite an increase in overall publication counts …. The early-career publication record of economists can thus provide a number of signals, but these signals are increasingly intertwined” – and then discussion about how there is positive assortative matching in teams, but the drawbacks of this for access to teams for less connected researchers.

o   Badgett, Carpenter and Sansone have a paper on LGBTQ Economics – which includes discussion of issues around the sensitivity of measurement to survey wording and approaches to eliciting sensitive information, and a note on the scarcity of research on this topic in developing countries “there is a need for research on LGBTQ people in developing countries… where policy changes have gone in very different directions. On one side, India’s Supreme Court decriminalized homosexuality in 2018, Taiwan legalized same-sex marriage in 2019, and Costa Rica introduced marriage equality in 2020. In contrast, anti-LGBTQ laws have been enacted in Hungary, Poland, Russia, Tanzania, and Uganda... More knowledge about the economic conditions and challenges faced by LGBTQ people, including the economic impact of these LGBTQ policy changes…could provide evidence to guide future decisions by development agencies and government actors.”


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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