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Using spatial variation in program performance to identify causal impact

Jed Friedman's picture
I’ve read several research proposals in the past few months, as well engaged in discussions, that touch on the same question: how to use the spatial variation in a program’s intensity to evaluate its causal impact. Since these proposals and conversations all mentioned the same fairly recent paper by Markus Frolich and Michael Lechner, I eagerly sat down to read it.

The Illusion of Information Campaigns: Just because people don’t know about your policy, it doesn’t mean that an information campaign is needed

David McKenzie's picture
How many points do you need to qualify to migrate to Australia? What is the cost of applying? How much money do you need to set up a bank account in the Cayman Islands? What is the procedure for getting money out of these accounts when you want to spend it?

May 3 Links: Finding your “thing” as a researcher, programs for female self-employment that work, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • From the indecision blog – as a young researcher, how do you find out what your “thing” is, that is, your research agenda -  interesting hypothesis that for many researchers research preferences “reveal themselves”.
  • From the 3ie blog – does economics need a more systematic approach to replication to be considered a hard science? – interesting link contained within to an AER editor’s report on the replication policy there.
  • New results published in the New England Journal of Medicine from the Oregon Health Experiment look at impacts of access to Medicaid on simple health measures like cholesterol and blood pressure (see our discussion of the original set of results here), and for summaries of the new results either the Washington Post Wonkblog or NPR). One of the big measurement issues is of course that even with a sample of approx 6,000 treated and 6,000 control, it is not clear there are enough cases over 2 years of the sort of health events that easier access to medical care can fix.
  • After Markus’s post this week showing how a package of grants and training helped women grow small businesses in Bangladesh, Chris Blattman has a post on new results from an evaluation he did in Uganda, which also finds positive impacts of training and grants on getting women to start businesses. We’ll wait for a working paper to render our thoughts on this – there are worrying issues (phased in randomization where the control group was guaranteed treatment at a known later date, potentially causing them to delay current business activities) and intriguing-sounding findings (general equilibrium effects on village economies) that pique my interest.

What happens when large ruminants (and some training) meet poverty traps

Markus Goldstein's picture
Can we break poverty traps?   An interesting new paper by Oriana Bandiera, Robin Burgess, Narayan Das, Selim Gulesci, Imran Rasul, and Munshi Sulaiman adds to this emergent literature with a definitive “yes we can.”     Bandiera, et. al. evaluate a program run by the NGO BRAC which provides a significant infusion of capital, coupled with training, for Bangladeshi women.  

Enhanced Active Choice: Utilizing Behavioral Economics to Increase Program Take-up

David McKenzie's picture
Shifting from opt-in to opt-out defaults is one of the clearest success stories for policy to emerge from behavioral economics, as evidenced by the large increases in organ donor rates and contributions to retirement savings plans obtained when opt-out defaults are used instead of opt-in. 
                However, there are several limits of opt-out policies:
 

Blog Links April 19: Over-generalization, framing financial literacy, fake resumes, and more…

David McKenzie's picture

·         The Indecision blog continues its series on the 7 sins of consumer psychology research - number 6 on over-generalization is a useful read: “Once an effect has been reported in a published paper (especially if it is by a famous author in a prestigious journal), we tend to treat it as gospel, again forgetting that this effect may be more context-specific than a quick readin

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