Saturday , February 17 2018
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Impact Evaluations

Weekly links Feb 16: when scale-ups don’t pan out the way you hoped, syllabi galore, do you suffer from this mystery illness? and more…

Interesting blog from the Global Innovation Fund, discussing results from an attempt to replicate the Kenyan sugar daddies RCT in Botswana, why they got different results, and how policy is reacting to this. “At some point, every evidence-driven practitioner is sure to face the same challenge: what do you do in the face of evaluation results that suggest that your program may not have the impact you hoped for? It’s a question that tests the fundamental character and convictions of our...

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Cash Transfers Increase Trust in Local Government

This post was co-authored with Katrina Kosec of IFPRI. Cash transfers seem to be everywhere. A recent statistic suggests that 130 low- and middle-income countries have an unconditional cash transfer program, and 63 have a conditional cash transfer program. We know that cash transfers do good things: the children of beneficiaries have better access to health and education services (and in some cases, better outcomes), and there is some evidence of positive longer run impacts. (There is also...

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Your go-to regression specification is biased: here’s the simple way to fix it

Today, I am writing about something many of you already know. You’ve probably been hearing about it for 5-10 years. But, you still ignore it. Well, now that the evidence against it has mounted enough and the fix is simple enough, I am here to urge you to tweak your regression specifications in your program evaluations. A new paper by Gibbons, Serrato, and Urbancic in the Journal of Econometric Methods (a) shows that OLS with Fixed Effects is not a consistent estimator in the presence of...

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Weekly links Feb 9: tracking Ghanaian youth as they age, envying Danish data, coding better, communicating less badly, and more….

DEC has a fantastic lecture series going on at the moment. This week we had Pascaline Dupas. Videos of the talks are online. Of particular interest to our readers, will be her discussion of the techniques used for how they managed to re-interview 95% of Ghanaian youth after 10 years; and of how they messed up asking about labor market outcomes the first time they tried due to the sporadic nature of work for many youth (and something I hadn’t thought about – people working for the government...

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What works to reduce child marriage?

Child marriage, despite being against the law in a lot of places, is still fairly common.   One estimate, cited in a new paper by Nina Buchmann, Erica Field, Rachel Glennerster, Shahana Nazneen, Svetlana Pimkina, and Iman Sen, figures there will be 142 million new child brides between 2011-2020.     So what might a policymaker do?  One option would be to empower girls.  Another would be to give the household (specifically the girls’ parents) a transfer conditional on waiting until they’re...

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Beyond the trite “I was there” photo: Using photos and videos to communicate your research

One signature feature of many academic presentations by development economists is the use of photos. Go to a labor or health economics seminar and you will almost never see a photo of a U.S. worker or U.S. family participating in some early childhood program, but go to a development seminar and odds are incredibly high that you will see shiny happy people holding hands. This is often the source of much eye-rolling among non-development economists (and even among ourselves), so I thought I’d...

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Weekly links Feb 2: hit the beach, develop a country! Female economists, go visit your alma maters! A Stata command round-up, and more…

On Let’s Talk Development, Ugo Gentilini summarizes 12 recent papers on cash transfers and social protection. Aidnography on the “development blogging crisis” (h/t Duncan Green) (and also has a review of 2017) – it is true that we haven’t seen a lot of new development blogging emerge, but they also miss the “not quite a blog” fantastic launch of VoxDev, which has been a welcome new way for academics to summarize some of their research. Speaking of VoxDev, they have a nice piece this week...

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What’s new in education research? Impact evaluations and measurement – January 2018 round-up

Here is a selected round-up of recent research on education in low- and middle-income countries, with a few findings from high-income countries that I found relevant. This is mostly but not entirely from the “economics of education” literature. If I’m missing recent articles that you’ve found useful, please add them in the comments!What is education good for? Education saves lives, but only some of them! “Education is strongly associated with better health and longer lives.” But is that...

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I just signed my first referee report

I once received a referee report for a journal submission that said, “In fact, in my view its contribution to science is negative…” The report continued with comments about how the paper lacked “proper and sound scientific inquiry” and was “…unsuitable for publication pretty much anywhere, I think.” Just in case the four-page assault was not sufficient, the report ended with encouraging the authors to “…move onto the next project.” It was hard to avoid the feeling that the referee was...

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Weekly links January 26: learn to machine learn, that wellness program might only help with your multiple testing correction, working beats saving, and more…

AEA continuing education videos and slides are now up, including the machine learning course taught by Athey and Imbens. One step towards fixing the leaky gender pipeline in higher education: the guardian reports on a study of UK universities which finds places with more generous maternity leave in the UK “were better able to retain qualified women who went on to become professors and receive higher pay” A couple of (non-development) NBER working papers (yes, they annoyingly are gated) of...

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