The IPA Blog


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?

Chart of the Day

Dec 03/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

Public Understanding of the US Foreign Aid Budget

US Public Opinion on Aid

HT: @viewfromthecave

El Presidente de Innovaciones para la Acción Contra la Pobreza (IPA) habla sobre Microfinanzas en Perú

Dec 02/10 | From the blog
by Miguel Paredes

El Profesor Dean Karlan, presidente de IPA, institución que hace evaluación de impactos a través de experimentos aleatorios, habló en Perú acerca de las últimos descubrimientos en el campo de las Microfinanzas. El evento fue organizado por el Instituto del Perú de la Universidad San Martin y se tituló “Microfinanzas: ¿Que funciona y que no?

Al evento asistieron diversas personas ligadas al mundo de las Microfinanzas en el Perú.

Can education help prevent HIV/AIDS?

Dec 01/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

Yes (at least in the short term).

We did a study in 2003-2006 with the Kenyan Ministry of Education and a non-profit International Child Support. In their Analysis, Esther Duflo, Pascaline Dupas and Michael Kremer found positive results both from training teachers in the national AIDS curriculum, and providing incentives for girls to stay in school. 

RCTs: The hot new idea from 350 BC

Nov 30/10 | From the blog
by Lee Crawfurd

A lot of the papers in say experimental social psychology published today could have been written a thousand years ago so psychology is behind its time. More generally, random clinical trials are way behind their time.  An alternative history in which Aristotle or one of his students extolled the virtue of randomization and testing does not seem impossible and yet it would have changed the world.

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