Published on Development Impact

Weekly links October 13: microenterprise growth and kid outcomes, gender gaps and society, better than DiD, and more…

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·       In addition to Kathleen and Jessica’s post this week celebrating the ways Nobel prize winner Claudia Goldin has inspired them, there were several other nice summaries of her work. Kevin Bryan at a fine theorem did his usual excellent and thorough discussion:  “You may notice a wild difference in how Goldin the economic historian discusses the gender gap compared to most other writers. Holding experience, education and field constant, the gender gap has shrunk to the low single digits. But understand what this implies! How women negotiate pay raises, whether bosses discriminate in promotion within a given firm, whether a firm has a really inclusive set of benefits – all of this is absolutely on the margin. What matters for the gender gap in the long run is technology and societal norms, particularly in their interaction with family. If high-productivity jobs require brawn, or require sixty-hour work weeks while society pressures women to raise children at home, then the gender gap will be large. If women can rationally expect to work a longer career due to better birth control or fewer bars (legal or normative) on married women working, or if white-collar jobs become more common relative to manufacturing, women’s wages will rise. That is, the definition of wage discrimination as “identical workers get different pay” is useful for ruling out some of the most common popular explanations for the gender gap. It does not mean that economists like Goldin are unaware that women may disproportionately avoid fields with long hours, or more physical danger, or that women may be put on “mommy tracks” in their career with less training and room for advancement. She is quite aware of this and wants to focus your attention on these concerns!” Alice Evans’ substack also does a nice job of highlights from some of the key papers.

·       Andrew Gelman on doing better than difference in differences – his discussion is closely related to the argument for doing Ancova rather than difference-in-differences in an RCT setting – it can be better to let the data determine how much of the baseline difference you want to correct for -  although in a non-experimental setting this improvement in efficiency could result in more bias.

·       In Science Advances, Berk and his co-authors report on their trial on whether personalized digital counseling can improve choice of contraceptive methods in Cameroon: “Our findings suggest that low-cost individualized recommendations can potentially be as effective in increasing unfamiliar technology adoption as providing large subsidies”. See Berk’s earlier posts (part 1, part 2).

·       Congrats to Prashant Bhadarwaj who takes over from Marcel Fafchamps as editor of EDCC. A huge thanks to Marcel who has been editor for 10 years.

·       On VoxDev, Agte et al summarize their new work on how female microenterprise growth impacts child outcomes in India: “We revisit microfinance borrowers in the city of Kolkata over a decade after they participated in a field experiment in which they were randomly assigned to either a traditional microfinance contract (control group) or one with a flexible repayment schedule that encouraged business investment (treatment group)…. Relative to the traditional contract, the flexible repayment contract generated rapid business growth… heterogeneity analysis reveals striking differences in investment response to treatment by parental education. Among households in which both parents are literate, treatment increases secondary school completion by 12 percentage points and college attendance by 15 percentage points. Children with at least one illiterate parent, on the other hand, are 14 percentage points less likely than their control counterparts to complete secondary schooling and experience no change in college attendance… illiterate parents are more likely to reinvest income gains from business expansion in their enterprise, whereas literate parents are more likely to invest in their children's education”

·       On the Future Development blog, Harun Onder draws analogies between three different methods of solving a maze and economic development strategies.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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