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When bad people do good surveys

Markus Goldstein's picture
So there I was, a graduate student doing my PhD fieldwork.    In the rather hot office at the University of Ghana, I was going through questionnaire after questionnaire checking for consistency, missed questions and other dimensions of quality.   All of a sudden I saw a pattern:  in the time allocation questions, men in one village seemed to be doing the exact same things, for the same amount of time, on two very different days of the week.  

Using lab-in-the-field experiments to predict and understand new product take-up: evidence from helping Filipino migrants send remittances for education

David McKenzie's picture
Many policy interventions combine several features that we think may all potentially be key for the results we are trying to achieve. For example, conditional cash transfers typically combine giving cash to the household, some message about the importance of health and education, some condition that requires the household to go to health clinics or kids to attend schools, and details such as who receives the cash (mother or father), how they receive it (directly paid to bank accounts or paid in cash), and the frequency of receipt.

Involving local non-state capacity to improve service delivery: it can be more difficult than it appears

Jed Friedman's picture

When state institutions find it a challenge to deliver services in under-resourced areas, its common for policy makers to consider leveraging existing local non-state capacity to help. This involvement of NGOs or CBOs is meant to supplement the state as service provider but a recent paper by Ashis Das, Eeshani Kandpal, and me demonstrates possible pitfalls with this extension approach. Just as implementation capacity of governments is a key determinant of government program performance, NGO capacity is a key determinant of NGO performance and under-resourced areas are likely to contain under-resourced local organizations. We find this to be the case in our study context of malaria control in endemic regions of India. Besides highlighting this challenge, our results also highlight the difficulties that small-scale evaluations present to the generalizability of findings, especially those implemented by non-state actors. Implementation capacity can be a key confounder of generalizability and it is not often measured or even discussed the current practice of impact evaluation needs to think harder about measures that capture implementation capacity in order to generalize IE results to other contexts.

Putting aspirations to work

Renos Vakis's picture

I have been planning to write a blog post for a few months now. Many of you may know how procrastination works! This changed after I attended the 4th World Bank Conference on Equity on May 29, 2014This year, the focus was on Aspirations, Poverty and Inequality. Listening to the likes of Debraj Ray and Glenn Loury is always a treat. Ray talked about the idea of aspirational gaps, defined as the difference between a person's contemporaneous standard of living and the standard of living she or he aspires to. Ray stressed that getting aspirations right is important: too low and people will not take action; too high and it might lead to frustration.
But what happens when you get it right? Let me tell you about a project in Nicaragua that sheds some insights on how aspirations can enhance the impacts of a program.

Are Impact Evaluations Enough? The Social Observatory Approach to Doing-by-Learning

Vijayendra Rao's picture

Impact Evaluations are just one of many important tools to improve “adaptive capacity.” To improve implementation, they need to be integrated with monitoring and decision support systems, methods to understand mechanisms of change, and efforts to build feedback loops that pay attention both to everyday and long-term learning.  While there has been some scholarly writing and advocacy on this point, it has been more talk than action.