The IPA Blog


Notes from the field: Street youth rehabilitation in Liberia

Dec 27/10 | From the blog


Chris Blattman describes an update on one of his projects with IPA in Liberia:

Helen, the research assistant overseeing the targeting, surveying, and behavioral measurement emails me on progress:

…surprisingly none of our equipment disappeared and none of our enumerators were juked, harassed or hustled from.

Nudges for Development

Dec 22/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

Sadly there was no randomized evaluation, so we can't be sure. But there are good reasons to believe that Malawi's national fertilizer subsidy scheme has been successful in increasing agricultural production.  

Malawi Chart

Experiments Everywhere: Wikipedia Marketing

Dec 16/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

If you have looked something up on Wikipedia during the past few weeks you may have noticed a banner across the top of each page with some kind of "personal message" from Jimmy Wales. 

This choice of message was no accident. What is fascinating about this fundraising campaign is that every banner is being tested against alternatives to maximize clicks and donations, and all of the tests all being documented online.

Read all about it here.

Microcredit is not the Enemy

Dec 14/10 | From the blog
by Dean Karlan

I had an op-ed published yesterday in the FT with Abhijit Banerjee, Pranab Bardhan, Esther Duflo, Erica Field, Asim Khwaja, Dilip Mookherjee, Rohini Pande and Raghuram Rajan, discussing the recent crisis in microfinance in India. You may need to register (for free) with to read the whole thing. 

Randomized Taxes?

Dec 13/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

This past week, wrangling over the Bush-era tax cuts has riveted Washington... If only there were a scientific way to determine the real impact of taxation on industriousness, labor supply, and innovation.

According to some scholars, there is. Randomly assign a representative sample of the population — say, 10,000 taxpayers — a lower tax rate, and see what happens...

How much should you spend on a bicycle?

Dec 13/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

If you're an amateur and interested in speed, you might want to save your pennies and opt for something cheap. 

Dr Groves' set up a trial to test whether his new, lightweight carbon-framed bicycle (which cost £1000) was any faster than his second-hand steel-framed bike bought for £50.

For six months he tossed a coin each morning to decide which bike to use - and then timed the journey.

New York City runs RCT, receives complaints that money doesn't grow on trees

Dec 09/10 | From the blog
by Dean Karlan

It has long been the standard practice in medical testing: Give drug treatment to one group while another, the control group, goes without.

Now, New York City is applying the same methodology to assess one of its programs to prevent homelessness. 


But some public officials and legal aid groups have denounced the study as unethical and cruel, and have called on the city to stop the study and to grant help to all the test subjects who had been denied assistance.

The Most Effective Development Intervention We Have Evidence For?

Dec 08/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

IPA Research Affiliate David McKenzie put together this Chart based on some of his research for the World Bank blog. The migration study wasn't randomized, but was based on 4 surveys and the next-best statistical methodology. And with impacts that big, you have quite a lot of room for bias.  

What constrains investment in new agricultural technologies?

Dec 07/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

IPA has a fairly sizable research agenda looking at why investment by small farmers is so low given potentially high returns. Is it credit constraints? The risk of drought and crop failure?

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