Published on Development Impact

Weekly links October 14: Yes, migration is a viable development strategy for small countries, advice for early career researchers, helping men is hard? And more….

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·       For those that argue that international migration can never be a big part of development, look no further than the experience of Tonga, Samoa and Vanuatu under the recent temporary migration programs to New Zealand and Australia. On the DevPolicy blog, Stephen Howes, Richard Curtain, and Evie Sharman provide the numbers: “as of the middle of 2022, there were 34,400 Pacific workers onshore in either Australia or New Zealand on one of the three Pacific temporary programs: Australia’s Seasonal Worker Programme (SWP) and the longer term PLS, and New Zealand’s Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) program, its SWP equivalent….There are three countries where more than 10% of the male working age population is engaged on one of the three programs. In Tonga, it is almost one in five (18%), and in Samoa and Vanuatu it is 14% each…. In all these countries, the government is the biggest employer. But in all three, about as many citizens are now working overseas on one of the three schemes as are working for government. Put crudely, for Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu, introducing these temporary work schemes has been akin to doubling the number of government employees. That’s huge.”

·       On twitter, Dave Evans asks what advice people would give to early career researchers who want to influence policy. Lots of responses in the thread, that include taking opportunities to hone your communication skills; getting your research ideas from talking to people affected by policies and reading the media, not from the literature; spend time working with policymakers, either through a stint in the organization, or at least through regular discussions with people in government or in other policy organizations; lots of advice on being humble, understanding it is a long process, and learning the political context; and many more replies.

·       Miriam Bruhn and Caio Piza have a 2-page impact note on why more firms don’t take up business training, and what happened when they worked with SEBRAE in Brazil to give firms more information on business practices.

·       Tim Taylor excerpts from a Richard Reeves essay on “why men are hard to help”, suggesting that “in studies of interventions that seek to boost the life prospects of the disadvantaged, when positive effects are found, the benefits tend to accrue to women, not men” – this is largely U.S.-based evidence, and I feel we have more mixed results in developing countries, with a strand of studies showing impacts for men and not women in some domains, and others which find impacts largely for women in others. Would be nice to see something systematic on this. A striking example from the U.S. is the Kalamazoo promise, which offered free college tuition to students educated in the city’s K-12 system. Reeves writes “According to the evaluation team, women in the program "experience very large gains," including an increase of 45% in college-completion rates, while "men seem to experience zero benefit." The cost-benefit analysis showed an overall gain of $69,000 per female participant — a return on investment of at least 12% — compared to an overall loss of $21,000 for each male participant. In short, for men, the program was both costly and ineffective.” The argument made is that disadvantaged men in the U.S. struggle with internal constraints around drive and direction.

·       Garrett Johnson has a field guide to doing online display advertising experiments, which he calls “inferno”, because of the many circles of hell involved in making these work: “Online display advertising is a hostile medium for field experiments. Display-ad effects are tiny and necessitate large-scale experiments. The experimenter has limited control because ad exposure is jointly determined by advertisers, users, algorithms, and market competition. As such, online display ads provide useful lessons for experimenters at the frontier of digital research more generally. Display-ad experiments place renewed focus on old topics like statistical power and compliance as well as on newer issues like identity fragmentation, experimental spillovers, and incrementality optimization”

·       The new research group at the IFC has some positions open:

o   Principal Economist, with a focus on the economics of climate, natural resources, and sustainability

o   (Associate) Economist, with a focus on applied micro-economics (two positions)


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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