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When field studies diverge from lab experiments: the case of incentivized blood donations: Guest post by Mario Macis

Do economic incentives crowd out individuals’ intrinsic motivation for certain activities that are performed in the absence of explicit rewards, such as volunteering in soup kitchens, recycling, or giving blood? This is an important question with implications for public policy and has been explored on Development Impact with a number of recent posts (here is the latest one from Jed).

Public randomization ceremonies

Damien de Walque's picture

With Jake Robyn* and Gaston Sorgho**

Randomization might- at first – sound like a scary word for health policy makers and professionals. They read medical journals and know from their training that randomized trials are scientifically rigorous designs to evaluate the impact of a program. But their first inclination might be to prefer to have the randomized trial in somebody else’s backyard. Randomization seems politically difficult. How to explain it to the people who will have to wait for the new intervention? Will it not create a backlash with the people who are randomly assigned to the control group? How will the population be convinced that the random allocation was fair and that there were no back room deals?

Our experience in many countries is that public randomization ceremonies are an excellent platform to build support for randomization and for the entire impact evaluation process. In Cameroon, we organized public randomization ceremonies in three Regions to assign health facilities to four study groups in an impact evaluation of performance-based financing (PBF) in the health sector. Held in the regional capitals and combined with the official launching of the project in each Region, we invited representatives of each facility, district health management teams, and local government, who all took part themselves in the randomization. Each of the randomization ceremonies received close oversight from the central and regional levels of the Ministry of Public Health. This made the randomization process completely fair and transparent to all health facilities participating in the study.

Adequacy of Reporting in Economics

Berk Ozler's picture
Should the identity of the author affect the interpretation of the existing evidence? You might answer ‘no,’ but it does. And when it does, it may affect the decision of influential people and institutions, such as a multilateral donor organization or, in the following case, a high level panel discussing the post-MDGs development agenda.

Friday links June 15: unpopular financial education, long-term impacts of CCTs, how to increase charitable giving, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • On the IDB First steps blog, evidence from CCT programs that the long-term impacts are greater when kids get this in the womb and in their first two years of life versus even when aged 2 to 5: children who were exposed to the CCT while in-utero and during the first two years of life score 0.15 standard deviations higher in the cognitive development assessment than those boys who were exposed to the program when they were 2 to 5 years old.

Getting to better data: Talking to strangers

Markus Goldstein's picture
About 15 years ago, when I was doing my dissertation research with a professor with experience in fieldwork, we did a 15 round survey with households in Ghana.   Given the frequency of the visits, we based the enumerators in the village.  But we were careful to hire enumerators from nearby big towns -- not the villages in which we were working.  This was partly for skills, but mostly to make sure that the enumerators wouldn't be asking sensitive questions of people they knew.   

Long-term effects of a short-term boost to savings – are mental accounts the key to why more small businesses don’t take advantage of high returns?

David McKenzie's picture
Standard economic theory would suggest that a one-time infusion of cash should have at most a temporary effect on business profitability – over time, individuals facing high returns should be able to re-invest business profits and bit-by-bit bootstrap themselves up to the steady-state size. Yet in an experiment I did with Suresh de Mel and Chris Woodruff in Sri Lanka, we find a one-time grant has sustained impacts five years later on male microenterprise owners.

Tools of the trade: recent tests of matching estimators through the evaluation of job-training programs

Jed Friedman's picture
Of all the impact evaluation methods, the one that consistently (and justifiably) comes last in the methods courses we teach is matching. We de-emphasize this method because it requires the strongest assumptions to yield a valid estimate of causal impact. Most importantly this concerns the assumption of unconfoundedness, namely that selection into treatment can be accurately captured solely as a function of observable covariates in the data.

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