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David McKenzie

David McKenzie

Development Impact blogger, World Bank researcher focusing on small businesses and migration, All Blacks fan...

Articles by David McKenzie

Weekly links May 10: why CCTs aren’t enforced before elections, when evidence isn’t used, digitalizing data, and more…

May 10, 2019

On Let’s Talk Development, results from tax compliance trials in Kosovo show some small increases from reminders, but also highlight the challenges of implementation, with many people not receiving their assigned treatment (e.g. half the letters not making it to recipients, less than one-quarter of emails opened). The CSAE coder’s corner has Meredith Paker sharing …

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Weekly links April 26: Submissions fees coming to a journal near you, recursive rankings, business mentoring, stop your workers quitting by letting them complain, and more…

April 26, 2019

Are submissions fees likely to be coming to more journals? The Royal Economic Society newsletter has the Economic Journal’s editor’s report. As with my post on development journals, it notes that submissions continue to rise and acceptance rates fall (it had 1,770 submissions and an acceptance rate below 5% in 2018). The report notes that …

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Weekly links April 5: Banerjee on UBIs in India, is Stata constraining African development? What about beer? Mentoring underrepresented women, and more…

April 5, 2019

Abhijit Banerjee discusses UBIs in the Caravan magazine – on whether a UBI could be feasible in India “If you think of PROGRESA [a conditional cash-transfer scheme in Mexico], then I would say it is kind of the size of the program it would be in India. Even Brazil’s Bolsa Familia [a direct cash-transfer scheme …

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Weekly links March 29: dynamic experimentation, making data accessible and transparent, summaries of a gazillion conference papers, assessing economic significance, and more…

March 29, 2019

Max Kasy blogs about his new work on designing multiple experiments for policy choice – “Trying to identify the best policy is different from estimating the precise impact of every individual policy: as long as we can identify the best policy, we do not care about the precise impacts of inferior policies. Yet, despite this, …

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Weekly links March 15: yes, research departments are needed; “after elections”, experiences with registered reports, and more…

March 15, 2019

Why the World Bank needs a research department: Penny Goldberg offers a strong rationale on Let’s Talk Development On VoxDev, Battaglia, Gulesci and Madestam summarize their work on flexible credit contracts, which is one my favorite recent papers – they worked with BRAC in Bangladesh to offer borrowers a 12 month loan, with borrowers having …

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Judge leniency IV designs: Now not just for Crime Studies

March 4, 2019

For quite a few reasons, many researchers have become increasingly skeptical of a lot of attempts to use instrumental variables for causal estimation. However, one type of instrument that has enjoyed a surge in popularity is what is known as the “judge leniency” design. It has particularly caught my attention recently through a couple of …

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Weekly links March 1: the path from development economics to philanthropy, nitty-gritty of survey implementation, blame your manager for your low productivity, and more…

March 1, 2019

The St Louis Fed has a new “Women in Economics” podcast series, highlighting not just academics, but also economists in the private sector and thinktanks – so far the only person among their 14 episodes who has worked on development economics is Una Osili –  who shares how her work on development in turn led …

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A round-up of what we learnt from Dave Evans over the past five years

February 27, 2019

Dave Evans is leaving the World Bank for an exciting new position at the Center for Global Development, and in his new role, will stop his regular contributions to Development Impact. He has been a fantastic contributor to our blog, joining five years ago, and he has posted almost 90 posts over this time. We …

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Weekly links Feb 22: alternatives to better willpower, CDFs for the win, the Brazilian solution to doubling Chinese consumption, and more…

February 22, 2019

A nice summary of the research on different strategies for reducing self-control failures by an all-star psychology/econ team of Duckworth, Milkman and Laibson in the open-access Psychological Science in the Public Interest journal. See in particular, Figure 2, which categorizes strategies by whether they need to be self-imposed vs can be imposed by others, and …

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Should we worry about home bias in development research?

February 19, 2019

Paolo Abarcar recently tweeted that “a casual look at Econ job market papers reveals that people usually write about their home country”. This got me thinking about this phenomenon of “home bias” in development research, and whether it is something that warrants any thought, whether researchers should think about this in choosing their portfolio of …

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Weekly links February 8: some people still like knowledge, be passionate about it, you don’t always need to make policy recommendations, and more…

February 8, 2019

Rachel Glennerster on lessons from a year as DFID’s Chief Economist, including the importance of knowledge work “As countries get richer, helping them spend their own money more effectively will become a more important route to reducing poverty than the UK directly paying for services” Seema Jayachandran and Ben Olken offer their thoughts on new …

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Weekly links January 25: Doing SMS surveys, a Deaton classic re-released, upcoming conferences, coding tips, and more…

January 24, 2019

Recommendations for conducting SMS surveys from the Busara Center, who “sent a one-time mobile SMS survey to 3,489 Kenyans familiar with SMS surveys and to 6,279 not familiar. Each sample was randomized into one of 54 cross-cutting treatment combinations with variation across several dimensions: incentive amounts, pre-survey communication, survey lengths, and content variation” include keep …

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Setting up your own firm for a firm experiment

January 22, 2019

The typical approach to examining how workers, consumers, or governments interact with a firm has been for researchers to find a willing firm owner and convince them to run experiments. Examples include Bandiera et al. working with a UK fruit-farmer to test different payment incentives for immigrant workers; Bloom et al. working with a Chinese …

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Weekly links January 18: an example of the problem of ex-post power calcs, new tools for measuring behavior change, plan your surveys better, and more…

January 18, 2019

The Science of Behavior Change Repository offers a repository of measures of stress, personality, self-regulation, time preferences, etc. – with instruments for both children and adults, and information on how long the questions take to administer and where they have been validated. Andrew Gelman on post-hoc power calculations – “my problem is that their recommended …

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Weekly links January 11: it’s not the experiment, it’s the policy; using evidence; clustering re-visited; and more…

January 11, 2019

“Experiments are not unpopular, unpopular policies are unpopular” – Mislavsky et al. on whether people object to companies running experiments. “Additionally, participants found experiments with deception (e.g., one shipping speed was promised, another was actually delivered), unequal outcomes (e.g., some participants get $5 for attending the gym, others get $10), and lack of consent, to …

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Some of our favorite development papers of 2018

December 20, 2018

Development Impact will now be on break over the next couple of weeks for the holidays, resuming in early January. As we did last year, we will turn to the holidays with a gift to you of some of our favorite development papers that we came across this year, mostly focusing on papers that we …

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A few catch-up links

December 16, 2018

Our links are on break until the new year, but here are a couple of catch-up links now our job market series has finished: BITSS had its annual conference (program and live video for the different talks posted online). Lots of discussion of the latest in transparency and open science. Includes a replication exercise with all AEJ …

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Bad incentives put the brakes on firm growth: Evidence from Kenya’s matatus: Guest post by Erin Kelley

November 19, 2018

This is the third in this year’s series of posts by PhD students on the job market. A firm’s success rides heavily on the performance of its employees. It is therefore important that firms design employment contracts that properly incentivize hard work. This becomes more challenging when firms cannot observe the amount of effort employees invest, nor the …

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Weekly links November 9: a doppelganger U.K., conditional distributions of journal decision times, invisible infrastructure, and more…

November 9, 2018

The Wall Street Journal discusses the synthetic control method as a way to understand Brexit (gated): “There are small differences in the various studies, but they all use Prof. Abadie’s method as the basis for constructing a “doppelganger” U.K. from other similar advanced economies, such as the U.S., Canada, France and the Netherlands. They reach …

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Blog your job market paper 2018: Submissions open!

October 29, 2018

We are pleased to launch for the eighth year a call for PhD students on the job market to blog their job market paper on the Development Impact blog.  We welcome blog posts on anything related to empirical development work, impact evaluation, or measurement. For examples, you can see posts from past years (2017, 2016, 2015, 2014,  2013, and 2012). We …

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