Published on Development Impact

Weekly links November 15: synthetic controls; migration good, trade bad? Spartacus and survivorship bias, and more...

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·       Dan Stein has a 3-part series on multiple hypothesis testing on the IDinsight blog (Part 1 covers when you need to worry about it, Part 2 discusses strategies to avoid multiple testing, and Part 3 discusses how to do multiple testing).

·       An intriguing model for replication of lab experiments was tested by the Journal of Public Economics: the journal contracts a replication after accepting the paper for publication, but before publication occurs. They replicated an experiment that tested the idea that elected leaders might be willing to act non-selfishly than appointed leaders – which the original paper found to hold among students at the University of Maryland. The replication did the same experiment on students at the University of Valencia in Spain, and found the opposite result! The paper discusses what to make of this (noise? Cultural differences?) and how they envisage a funding model for this type of approach in the future (noting that it can be pretty cheap to replicate many lab experiments).

·       Using Synthetic Controls: Feasibility, Data Requirements, and Methodological Aspects – a forthcoming JEL paper by Alberto Abadie. He discusses many practical issues and notes “the credibility of the results depends crucially on the level of diligence exerted in the application of the method and on whether contextual and data requirements are met in the empirical application at hand. In this article, I emphasize the notion that mechanical applications of synthetic controls that do not take into account the context of the investigation or the nature of the data are risky enterprises”.

·       Here is my mini-review of the migration and trade chapters of Banerjee and Duflo’s new book Good Economics for Hard Times. Charles Kenny offers a related take over at the CGD blog. This Channel 4 News interview with Esther is great, and discusses her views on migration, growth, tax policy, and how she got into economics.

·       Dave Evans finishes his Nobel research round-up with a summary of all of Abhijit Banerjee’s papers.

·       Looking for a new podcast series that you could even listen to with your non-economist friends and family? I’ve been enjoying Katy Milkman’s Choiceology. It focuses on different behavioral biases and findings, weaving together examples from psychology and economics. Each episode starts with a real-world example (e.g. looking at the decision someone made on Deal or No Deal to discuss loss vs gain framing; discussing Spartacus in the context of survivorship bias, or the career of a progressive rock drummer in discussing how advice giving benefits the advice-giver) – she then interviews lots of the authors of this work and ends with advice on applying these ideas to your own life.

·       Reminder, our blog your job market series is still taking submissions.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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