Published on Development Impact

Weekly links October 6: research into policy guidelines, driving and empowerment or lack thereof, working from home and productivity, we are hiring, and more….

This page in:

·       Doug Elmendorf offers five tips for translating research findings into policy (based on his work at the Congressional Budget Office, Treasury, White House Council of Economic Advisors & more): 1) tell them who wins and who loses/distribution effects; 2) think about the specific goals & incentives; 3) communicate in short non-technical ways, and with graphs – people will likely read on their phones; 4) be patient and persistent; 5) encourage students to work in policy to boost the number of people in government who understand social science.

·       Alice Evans summarizes and gives her interpretation of a new experiment by Daher et al in Saudi Arabia which randomized driver training to women, and found big differences in impacts by marital status  - “Driving enabled more unmarried women to travel independently, get jobs, and exercise financial autonomy. Wives, by contrast, were immobilised.”

·       In the FT, Tim Harford writes in praise of randomness, noting that for small grants, giving them randomly is efficient, enhances diversity, and allows measuring impacts. “Since there is a limited amount of cash, and many deserving recipients, and since everyone can see the fairness of drawing lots, why not turn scarce resources into insight?”

·       On Let’s Talk Development, Yeon Soo Kim and Jeffrey Tanner summarize findings from a new report that uses high-frequency phone surveys to look at how forcibly displaced populations compared to people in their host communities during the pandemic. Initial impacts were often a lot worse, and recovery slower.

·       In the Hill, Nick Bloom summarizes the evidence on the impact of working from home on productivity – and how he interprets some recent studies that found negative effects when others had found positive effects. “These recent studies highlight major productivity costs from remote working. But they also reflect the importance of good management. Firms that adopted home working at speed in the pandemic often lacked planning, organization and control processes. Remote teams were led by office-based and office-trained managers who provided little support or structure. Remote work is different from office work, and needs managers, software and hardware that can support it. “ Moreover, it has important benefits on employee retention “I have spoken to many hundreds of managers and firms over the last three years and I repeatedly hear they use home working as a key part of their recruitment and retention strategy. Indeed, another recent experiment on 1600 employees found hybrid reduced employee quit rates by 35 percent.”

·       Simon Bowmaker has posted the full transcripts of old interviews he did with David Card and Daron Acemoglu, which are interesting for how they think about the research process in economics.

·       On the World Bank’s Data blog, the LSMS team describe a new technical note they have on adapting questionnaires to deal with shocks – “For each questionnaire section, suggestions are offered on how to adapt the questions to account for shocks – including everything from new questions in the labor module about household members who may have lost their jobs due to the shock, to questions on education about children who may have missed classes or dropped out of school as a result of the shock”

·       On VoxDev, Adao et al summarize their recent QJE paper on the relationship between trade and inequality using VAT data from Ecuador; and Bandiera et al. summarize some findings from their JEEA paper using labor microdata from across the world to look at how the organization of labor varies with economic development. “we document three broad transformations in the organisation of labour: the marketisation of work, the emergence of wage work, and the fractionalisation of labour into specialised occupations”  

·       Call for papers: JDE  Special Issue: Integrating Earth Observation into Impact Studies on Agriculture and Climate Change This special issue aims to highlight efforts to integrate Earth observation (EO) into economic analysis of climate adaptation in low and middle income agriculture. The field has seen a dramatic expansion in the use of EO as a new source of data. Increasing availability of open accessible global-scale imagery and derived products offer a cost-effective complement to ground observations, especially when powered by cloud computing platforms with rapidly growing built-in data catalogs and capabilities to task satellites for acquiring higher resolution imagery. This SI specifically brings together papers that adapt EO models to answer agriculture-related impact questions in developing country contexts.

·       World Bank Recruiting this year for DECRG and DIME. Both the World Bank Research Group (DECRG) and Development Impact Department (DIME) are hiring this year on the economics market for new PhDs. Our Job Openings for Economists ads are now up:


o   DIME


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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