August 31, 2009

Microfinance institutions are often assumed to be socially oriented, but as the industry expands and more institutions enter, it becomes increasingly important to verify these claims.  Donors and social investors should require more than a mission statement and a few anecdotes to know whether an MFI is really reaching the poor.

Will Boase
Dean Karlan, Sendhil Mullainathan, Jonathan Zinman
August 19, 2009

Interesting example of the endowment effect from New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni:

Summing up the quirky behaviors of his dining companions over his tenure as restaurant critic for the NY Times, Bruni describes the way his fellow diners--to whom he had randomly assigned dishes to be sampled--would become protective of "their" choices, defending their quality.

Sukhmani Sethi
August 11, 2009

I need to give props to the Kiva Fellows, who work with many of the same microfinance institutions that partner with IPA in the field.

Alberto Chong, Dean Karlan, Martín Valdivia
July 07, 2009

How has Michael Jackson's death helped advance the cause of IPA? I've just come back from rural Cusco, Perú, where we were training credit officers for our newest project, where we use video and radio to help teach village bank clients concepts related to financial literacy. Earlier, I had talked to the credit officers about the importance of randomized trials, mentioned results from previous studies, outlined the indicators we were thinking of measuring, and explained relevant details about the assignment of treatment and control banks.

Media Coverage
June 25, 2009
Coupling business training with microloans is a practice that is growing in popularity.  This article cites an IPA study in Peru led by Dean Karlan and Martin Valdivia which found that the business training program improved outcomes for borrowers and surprisingly had a larger effect for those that expressed less interest in training at the outset of the program.
Thomas Chupein
Dean Karlan, Bram Thuysbaert, Rita Hamad
April 20, 2009

This month's Atlantic Monthly has a controversial article about breastfeeding, specifically making arguments against breastfeeding.  The arguments are of two types.  One is social and normative, and the other is on the evidence.  My thoughts, naturally, are on the evidence.  The journalist makes a classic error in understanding and interpreting "treatment effects."  Here is a clip:

Media Coverage
August 02, 2006
The group lending model of microfinance in India can do with less stringency, according to Dean Karlan. Flexibility towards individual lending should be explored.