Published on Development Impact

Weekly links October 25: the Michael Kremer anthology, more need not be better for Colombian pre-schools, an experiment on experiments, and more...

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·       CSAE’s coder’s corner this week has Lukas Hensel showing you how to customize your balance and summary tables in stata for latex.

·       Over at the CGD blog, Dave Evans summarizes all of Michael Kremer’s papers – separating this anthology into the platinum and gold hits, the b-sides, deep cuts, and latest hits. One nice point Dave makes is to remark on how Michael has written multiple papers on several topics– for example, “14 publications on incentives for vaccines (including one book) and 11 publications or working papers on deworming. In both cases, Kremer fleshes out different aspects of the research for different audiences, publishing in economics journals, public health journals, chapters in books, and general interest journals (like Foreign Policy).... It can be tempting to write a paper on a topic and move on, but Kremer’s work shows that to affect change can require more enduring, detailed engagement.”

·       The summarizes a recent evaluation of  Colombian pre-school programs, that evaluated a 30% boost in per-pupil spending against a control group, and against a group that got funding plus professional training. One surprising finding was that children who were in the schools that just got the funding boost without the teacher training saw no improvements in  their cognitive and social-emotional development, and were actually worse off in pre-literacy skills – the authors attribute this to the extra funding hiring new teacher assistants and the teachers themselves becoming less involved. So another counterexample to the “duh, of course more resources will be better, why do you need to test that” viewpoint sometimes expressed.

·       In the HBR, Ethan Mollick discusses what the lean start-up method gets wrong and right – in the process discussing an experiment getting Italian start-ups to do more experiments.

·       How much clothing can you make out of your rejection letters? The Washington Post covers the delightful story of Caitlin Kirby who defended her doctoral dissertation in environmental science and policy wearing a skirt made up of rejection letters she had faced along the way.

·       Looking for a non-traditional way to use your research skills to have impact? Givewell is recruiting on the PhD market this year, and are also interested in researchers at all other levels of experience, with job postings here.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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