Published on Development Impact

Weekly links October 1: Indian mothers-in-law, jobs with DIME, ML vs RCT, is digital credit good value, and more…

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·       Video and slides are up for S Anukriti’s policy research talk this week on the influence of female friends and family on female empowerment in India – Indian women are often socially isolated with sparse social networks, and mothers-in-law exert a lot of influence on decision-making. She then covers a recent experiment on improving access of married women to family planning, where a voucher encouraging bringing a friend along was more effective than just a voucher for themselves.

·       On the IPA blog, Rafe Mazer summarizes several recent impact evaluations of digital credit in Malawi, Kenya and Nigeria and asks, given the modest impacts, whether it is a good use of donor funds to support private companies in expanding access.

·       Over at the CGD blog, Dave Evans summarizes papers on education systems presented at the recent RISE conference. I’m always a sucker for comments like “higher “standard deviation” changes in test scores don’t mean much improvement in skills when starting from a low base”..and also see Leonard Wantchekon, Rukmini Banerjee and Jishnu Das’s views on which education interventions should be trashed.

·       On the Resources for the Future blog, Karen Palmer and Brian Prest do a Lalonde-like exercise, comparing non-experimental treatment effects estimated by machine learning to those from a RCT, for interventions designed to reduce electricity use during peak hours. They find machine learning (and even simple DiD) do a good job at getting at counterfactuals in this setting, although note that it is one in which they very large T (a year of hourly electricity consumption data) to train and fit models on.

·       Frank Shilbach’s undergrad course on psychology and economics is now available on MIT’s open courseware – with videos, slides, problem sets, etc. Looks like a really fun course, and good for browsing through as an intro or refresher on a lot of behavioral econ topics. Now the problem is that he covers both anticipatory utility and self-control problems, so should you look at this now, or look forward to looking at it in the future?

·       Lots of job opportunities in IE!  The Development Impact Evaluation (DIME) department seeks to recruit 16 consultants, including research assistants, pre-docs, field coordinators and data scientists, to support their global portfolio of impact evaluations. The consultants will work with the DIME team and external researchers on all phases of the impact evaluations (IEs), from study design to analysis. The projects details and a link to the application form can be found on this dashboard.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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