- How to teach development economics in 20 minutes to 7th graders – Dave Evans explains his method.
- The “beginning at the end” approach to experimentation – written from the point of view of business start-ups, but could easily apply to policy experiment work too “The typical approach to research is to start with a problem. In business, this often leads to identifying a lot of vague unknowns—a “broad area of ignorance” as Andreasen calls it—and leaves a loosely defined goal of simply reducing ignorance…“Beginning at the end” means that you determine what decision you’ll make when you know the results of your research, first, and let that dictate what data you need to collect and what your results need to look like in order to make that decision.”
I received an email recently from a major funder of impact evaluations who wanted my advice on the following question regarding testing baseline balance in randomized experiments:
Should we continue to ask our grantees to do t-tests and f-tests to assess the differences in the variables in the balance tables during the baseline?
An exciting new place for lots of discussion on policy issues in development economics – this week VoxDev launched. Some of the opening posts include:
- Banerjee and Kala on the effects of India’s demonetarization
- Glaeser on housing bubbles in China
- Goldberg and Pavcnik on globalization in developing countries
- Dupas on delivering health subsidies in developing countries
- Acemoglu and Restrespo on the race between humans and machines for jobs
- If you could go back to the time you did not have any children and could choose exactly the number of children to have in your whole life, how many would that be?
- How many of these children would you like to be boys, how many would you like to be girls, and for how many would it not matter if it’s a boy or a girl?
- Women in Economics at Berkeley has a great summer reading list of recent papers which look at the gender earnings gap in different ways, including short summaries of some very recently published papers in the AER, QJE, and JPE on this issue.
- The NYTimes on how business schools are trying to teach fintech, although with no agreement on what this means or how to do it.
Suppose that you’re at your doctor’s office, discussing an important health issue that may become a concern in the near future. There are multiple drugs available in the market that you can use to prevent unwanted outcomes. Some of them are so effective that there is practically no chance you will have a negative event if you start taking them. Effectiveness of the other options range from 94% to much lower, with the most commonly used drug failing about 10% of the time for the typical user. Somehow, you go home with the drug that has a one in 10 failure rate: worse, you’re not alone; most people end up in the same boat…
Gonzalo was part of a panel with David McKenzie at a recent meeting of the Impact Evaluation Network (IEN). One of the questions during this discussion was whether there were good examples of cases where impact evaluations had found null or negative results, and policymakers had actually changed policy as a result. We thought others would be interested in hearing his examples from Mexico.
It feels like a cold water shower when impact evaluations (IEs) do not show positive impacts. Those studies are neither sexy for academic publication nor for public policy use. But the fact that some IEs show no impact of certain programs or projects, it’s an important piece of information!
I would like to suggest here that if a country has an institutional and relatively credible Monitoring and Evaluation System (M&E), the chances of using IEs with no impact increase.