In this article in the NYT from a few weeks back, there is this quote from Dr. Stefano Bertozzi, director of H.I.V. and tuberculosis for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation:
Network analysis is a burgeoning sub-field in development economics as more and more attention is paid to how individual preferences and behaviors are influenced by decisions in the wider community. One example is the 2007 Kremer and Miguel paper that explores the determinants of take-up of deworming medicine by regressing take-up on the number of connections that the household has with other treated households.
I was in a meeting the other week where we were wrestling with the issue of how to capture better labor supply in agricultural surveys. This is tough – the farms are often far from the house, tasks are often dispersed across time, with some of them being a small amount of hours – either in total or on a given day. Families can have more than one farm, weakening what household members know about how the others spend their time. One of the interesting papers that came up was a study by Elena Bardasi, Kathleen Beegle, Andrew Dllon and Pieter Serneels. Before turning to their results its worth spending a bit more time discussing what could be going on.
Two things would seem to matter (among others). First, who you ask could shape the information you get. We’ve had multiple posts in the past about imperfections in within household information. These posts have talked about income and consumption and while labor would arguably be easier to observe, it may suffer from the same strategic motives for concealment and thus be underreported when the enumerator asks someone other than the actual worker to respond on this.
It is not uncommon to read about medical trials for new drugs which get stopped early because they are too successful and it would be unethical not to offer the treatment to the control group (e.g.
- Research ethics
· The impact of George Bush cutting funding to all NGOs operating abroad that provide or counsel women on abortion was actually to increase abortion rates according to new research by Stanford researchers – the hypothesized channel is through a reduction in the availability of birth control.
These days we talk a lot about how best to assess development impact through evaluative research. Sound data and methods are essential. Here there has been considerable progress over the last 20 years or so.
All that progress will come to nothing if it does not make those people actually doing development more knowledgeable about what they are doing. This depends in part on whether the research that is done is useful and well disseminated. Here there has also been progress, though more work is needed.
I wanted to follow up on David’s post of yesterday on the issue of sharing results with respondents. My initial reaction was that we kind of owe this to the respondents not least because they spent a lot of time answering our tedious questionnaires. But as David points out, it’s not quite that simple in cases where we expect to have ongoing work.
- dissemination of results