Weekly links June 14: certifying soft skills, information interventions debated, all the evidence in the world couldn’t save Progresa, and more...

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·       VoxDev have a series of posts this week focusing on labor market interventions, particularly around the issues of asymmetric information and the quality of job applicants: Bassi and Nansamba summarize results of a field experiment they did in Uganda in which they certified soft skills for youth who went through vocational training. This led to no change in employment, but higher income conditional on being employed. In a video, Stefano Caria discusses his work paying applicants to apply for jobs, which led to higher quality applicants applying.  Abel, Burger and Paraino summarize their intervention of getting reference letters from former employers, which seem to particularly help women.

·       Dave Evans defends information interventions with 10+ examples of success, mostly from the education sector. Although see my old post on the illusion of information campaigns for counter-arguments and discussion of when we might expect information to be the binding constraint.

·       Dave has also started a weekly education round-up

·       A Requiem for Progresa by Rogelio Gómez Hermosillo in El Universal (in Spanish) – the most famous CCT in the world has survived multiple changes in government in Mexico by changing names and adding features as it goes (it became Oportunidades, then Prospera). But it now appears to be gone, being replaced by just “scholarships” for primary and high school (called Becas Benito Juárez). Gone are the nutrition and child health components, the fact that payments increase with years of schooling and jump up at the places where drop-out is otherwise most common, and higher payments for girls to start high school. Despite its fame to development economists, I thought this was interesting “In general, the positive results of Progresa-Oportunidades-Prospera are little known. Instead an environment of general disqualification of “social programs” dominates, without nuances or distinctions”.

Authors

David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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