- Cyrus Samii on pursuing external validity by letting treatments vary.
- From the latest EconJournalWatch: replications in economics: a progress report
- Marc Bellemare on key books for development economists (especially those interested in agriculture) to read – there are a couple here that I hadn’t heard of which he has now sparked my interest in reading
As a pilot initiative, our key questions were:
- Is there a supply of new ideas that researchers have that are not currently being tried? Will researchers take the time to put these ideas forward?
- Is there a demand from operational teams and governments working on SME projects for new ideas in this space?
- Can we form matches between this supply and demand?
Almost four years ago I wrote a blog post titled “Advocating a treatment that may not help the treated?”, which was in response to the news that starting treatment with antiretroviral drugs immediately rather than waiting until the then standard of falling below a CD4+ count of 250 significantly reduced transmission of HIV among HIV-discordant couples. The study also reported effects on the health of the HIV-infected partner and found that the evidence for any beneficial effects for the person being treated were weak at best.
Nighttime lights satellite imagery (DMSP-NTL) are now a popular data source among economists. In a sentence, these imagery encompass almost all inhabited areas of the globe, and record the average quantity of light observed at each pixel (nominal size ~1km2) across cloud-free nights for every year, 1992-2012. In under-developed or conflicted regions, where survey or census data at a fine level of spatial and temporal disaggregation are seldom available or reliable or comparable over space or time, NTL and other satellite imagery can be an excellent resource. Recent economics papers have used NTL to study growth of cities in sub-Saharan Africa (Storeygard (2015)), production activity in blockaded Palestinian towns of the West Bank (Abrahams (2015), van der Weide et al (2015)), and urban form in China (Baum-Snow & Turner (2015)) and India (Harari (2015)).
- Vera te Velde has a post summarizing nine new broken-windows theory experiments with really large effects (via Marginal revolution) and also interesting thoughts on using the Big-5 personality traits.
No thoughtful technocrat would copy a program in every detail for a given context in her or his country. That's because they know (among other things) that economics is not a science but a social (or dismal even) science, and so replication in the fashion of chemistry isn't an option. For economics, external validity in the strict scientific sense is a mirage.
- The impact of paying people direct into bank accounts instead of via cash – VoxEU on a new RCT in India.