Friday , April 20 2018
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Impact Evaluations

Weekly links April 20: Swifter justice, swifter coding, better ethics, cash transfers, and more

  From the DIME Analytics Weekly newsletter (which I recommend subscribing to): applyCodebook – One of the biggest time-wasters for research assistants is typing "rename", "recode", "label var", and so on to get a dataset in shape. Even worse is reading through it all later and figuring out what's been done. Freshly released on the World Bank Stata GitHub thanks to the DIME Analytics team is applyCodebook, a utility that reads an .xlsx "codebook" file and applies all the renames, recodes,...

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The history of randomized control trials: scurvy, poets and beer

The other night I was reading Julian Jamison’s well written and intriguing recent paper: “The Entry of Randomized Assignment into the Social Sciences,” which plumbs history to understand where it is that RCTs come from.      The ideas start with the title.   Julian draws a distinction between random assignment and random allocation.   Random assignment is when the condition (“what was done, when, to whom or what, etc”) is randomly assigned across observations.   Random allocation – which is...

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What are we learning about the impacts of public works programs on employment and violence? Early findings from ongoing evaluations in fragile states

Labor-intensive public works (LIPW) programs are a popular policy intended to provide temporary employment opportunities to vulnerable populations through work-intensive projects, such as the development and maintenance of local infrastructure, that do not require special skills. For a review of LIPW programs (design, evidence and implementation), see Subbarao et al. here. In fragile states, LIPW programs are also presumed to contribute to social and political stability. The developed...

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Weekly links April 13: militant randomistas, show them the germs, should your next paper not be a paper? and more…

In the Atlantic – are Jupyter notebooks going to replace pdfs for scientific papers? Konrad Hinsen discusses, noting that it seems the future isn’t here yet. On VoxDev, Daniel Bennett discusses how traditional medicine beliefs can hamper hygiene campaigns, and the results of an experiment which used microscopes to actually show people the microbes in standing water and buffalo dung – this led to improvements in hygiene and child health, but only for those without strong beliefs in...

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How long is the long run?

When John Maynard Keynes wrote that “In the long run we are all dead,” he probably didn’t mean a few days or months, notwithstanding a recent “long-term experimental” social psychology study that shows results over a whopping three days. Keynes lived an additional 23 years after publishing his famous statement, so I’ll call 23 years the “Keynes test” for long-run impacts. In development economics, how long is the long run? I identified every article in three development economics journals...

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IE Analytics: Introducing the Development Impact Evaluation Wiki

This is a guest post by Maria Jones & Benjamin Daniels. Please see dimewiki.worldbank.org for more on the DIME Wiki. In 1996, a time so long ago we can’t find the original speech online, then-President James Wolfensohn argued that the World Bank should henceforth become “the Knowledge Bank”. Five years later, when it wasn’t yet considered a reputable source even for freshman essay citations, Wikipedia came online and changed the way knowledge is recorded and shared, forever. That was...

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Weekly links April 7: registration becomes compulsory, lessons from reality tv and the Black Panther, positively deviant schools, and more…

AEA journals now require registration in the RCT registry:  - the AEA journals' submission instructions now include: “The American Economic Association operates a Registry for Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs).  In January of 2018, the AEA Executive Committee passed motion requiring the registration of RCTs for all applicable submissions. If the research in your paper involves a RCT, please register (registration is free), prior to submitting. In the online submission form, you will be...

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Seeking nimble plumbers

Sometimes (maybe too many times), I come across an evaluation with middling or null results accompanied by a disclaimer that implementation didn’t go as planned and that results should be interpreted in that light. What can we learn from these evaluations? Would results have been better had implementation gone well? Or even if implementation had gone just fine, was the intervention the right solution for the problem? It’s hard to say, if we think of program success has a product of both...

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Using a PhD in development economics outside of academia: interviews with Alan de Brauw and Bailey Klinger

This is the second in our occasional series on having an impact in development outside a research university. Today's interviews are with Alan de Brauw, a Senior Research Fellow in the Markets, Trade, and Institutions Division at the International Food Policy Research Institute; and Bailey Klinger, the founder and (until recently) CEO of the Entrepreneurial Finance LabAlan de BrauwDI: Describe what your job entails, and what a typical week looks like In short, I manage a set of research...

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GiveDirectly Three-Year Impacts, Explained

My post earlier this week on dissipating effects of cash transfers on adults in beneficiary households has caused not only a fair amount of disturbance in the development community, but also a decent amount of confusion about the three-year impacts of GiveDirectly’s cash transfers, from a working paper by Haushofer and Shapiro (2018) – HS (18) from hereon. At least some, including GiveDirectly itself and some academics, seem to think that one can reasonably interpret the findings in HS (18)...

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