Published on Development Impact

Weekly links November 16: Remembering TN, targeting vs universal transfers debates, farcical robustness checks, bad replication techniques, and more...

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  • On Let’s Talk Development, Buvinic, Montalvao and Copley summarize two experiments in Tanzania and Indonesia that tried to increase the use of mobile savings technologies and that also offered business training to female entrepreneurs – the programs increased savings, but had no detectable effect on business outcomes over the short run.
  • The Targeting vs Universal Transfers debate: “Our evidence from Indonesia and Peru shows that existing targeting methods in developing countries, while imperfect, appear to deliver substantial improvements in welfare compared to universal programs” – Hanna and Olken compare targeting to UBI in the latest JEP. Banerjee, Niehaus and Suri offer their take in a paper for the Annual Review: “Given all the informational and implementation issues with targeting, we argue that there may be a stronger case for universality than is often thought.” and maybe we shouldn’t be trying to target on who is poorest in the first place “even well-executed targeting schemes have several under-appreciated drawbacks. In a world with market failures it is not clear that targeting those who are most deprived, as is current practice, actually targets those for whom the impacts are greatest”....note also the aside comment “The current trend in economics is to try to connect all interventions to some narrative about growth even when it is obvious that it is a stretch. This is unfortunate, both because it blinds us to other priorities and other narratives that may be more compelling and also because, for the most part, we know very little about how to make growth happen.”
  • Job opportunities:
    • The World Bank’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia poverty and governance team is looking for a field coordinator to support a detailed labor force survey in Bosnia and Herzegovina
    • Evidence Action, a global NGO focused on scaling cost-effective, evidence-based interventions in global development, is expanding its bench of in-house rigorous evidence and cost-effectiveness talent by recruiting for two new roles: a (Senior) Economist (PhD) and a (Senior) Cost-Effectiveness Analyst (master’s).
  • Last chance for submissions to our blog your job market paper series – deadline is noon EST on Monday Nov 19.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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