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.
- What you need to design an impact evaluation – The IDB blog highlights the different content to be found on their new IE portal.
- How looking at heterogeneous treatment effects and getting long-term data fundamentally changed how the results of an important impact evaluation are viewed – the Moving to Opportunity experiment reconsidered (part 1 and part 2)
- If the key result of your model or field experiment is ‘higher wages lead to better performance’, you’re not invited
- Marc Bellemare on the infamous rainfall instrument and whether it is really doing what you think it does
The guest post is authored by Ken Leonard
Intrinsic motivation is regularly promoted both as nostrum and portent in conversations about workers in service industries like education and health care. On the one hand, why do we have to focus so much on incentives: aren’t people in the service industry intrinsically motivated to do their job? And on the other, if we focus so much on incentives, aren’t we going demotivate those who are intrinsically motivated?
However, economists and policy makers in the health and education fields are often relying on imperfect definitions of intrinsic motivation.
- The Growth Economics blog hits hard with “there’s more to life to manufacturing”, among other things, making the point that even the way we code industries and occupations is heavily biased towards manufacturing and misses most of the action taking part in services growth.
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