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What are the determinants of health and of well-being? Income and wealth are clearly part of the story, but does access to health care have a large independent effect, as the advocates of more investment in health care, such as the World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health (Commission on Macroeconomics and Health, 2001), have argued? This paper reports on a recent survey in a poor rural area of the state of Rajasthan in India intended to shed some light on this issue, where there was an attempt to use a set of interlocking surveys to collect data on health and economic status, as well as the public and private provision of health care.
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May 01, 2004
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Colombia's PACES program provided over 125,000 poor children with vouchers that covered half the cost of private secondary school. The vouchers were renewable annually conditional on adequate academic progress. Since many vouchers were assigned by lottery, program effects can reliably be assessed by comparing lottery winners and losers. Estimates using administrative records suggest the PACES program increased secondary school completion rates by 15-20 percent. Correcting for the greater percentage of lottery winners taking college admissions tests, the program increased test scores by two-tenths of a standard deviation in the distribution of potential test scores. Boys, who have lower scores than girls in this population, show larger test score gains, especially in math.
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Working Paper
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January 01, 2004
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Many argue that organizations of the disadvantaged create positive externalities, and in particular strengthen the position of these groups in society. A natural inference is that these organizations should be subsidized. We argue that the benefits of expanding the operations of these groups must be set against the potential costs of weakening the role of the disadvantaged in these organizations. A prospective, randomized evaluation of a development program targeted at strengthening rural women’s groups in western Kenya suggests that the program did not improve group strength or functioning as measured by participation rates, assistance to members, and assistance to other community projects. The funding did, however, change the very characteristics of the groups that made them attractive to funders in the first place. Younger, more educated women and women employed in the formal sector joined the groups, and men and better-educated and wealthier women moved into key leadership position...
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January 01, 2004
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This paper discusses the role that impact evaluations should play in scaling up. Credible impact evaluations are needed to ensure that the most effective programs are scaled up at the national or international levels. Scaling up is possible only if a case can be made that programs that have been successful on a small scale would work in other contexts. Therefore the very objective of scaling up implies that learning from experience is possible.
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January 01, 2004
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Intestinal helminths—including hookworm, roundworm, whipworm, and schistosomiasis—infect more than one-quarter of the world’s population. Studies in which medical treatment is randomized at the individual level potentially doubly underestimate the benefits of treatment, missing externality benefits to the comparison group from reduced disease transmission, and therefore also underestimating benefits for the treatment group. We evaluate a Kenyan project in which school-based mass treatment with deworming drugs was randomly phased into schools, rather than to individuals, allowing estimation of overall program effects. The program reduced school absenteeism in treatment schools by one-quarter, and was far cheaper than alternative ways of boosting school participation. Deworming substantially improved health and school participation among untreated children in both treatment schools and neighboring schools, and these externalities are large enough to justify fully subsidizing treatment. Y...
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January 01, 2004
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The 73rd Amendment paved the way for a fundamental change in the way public goods are delivered in rural areas in India. Through the structure of the Panchayati Raj, local councils directly elected by the people are responsible for making decisions on an array of public good decisions. Twice a year, the councils must also convene village meetings (Gram Sabhas), where the villagers must approve their plan and their budget. Eventually, the Gram Panchayats are supposed to be given control over an even broader array of social services, including basic education and primary health care. The hope is that decentralization, by bringing decision-making closer to the people, may improve both the quality of social services delivery in India, which is in many ways disastrous (e.g., Probe Team (1999)), and its adequacy to meet people’s needs.
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Working Paper
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November 01, 2003
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This paper analyzes a randomized experiment to shed light on the role of information and social interactions in employees’ decisions to enroll in a Tax Deferred Account (TDA) retirement plan within a large university. The experiment encouraged a random sample of employees in a subset of departments to attend a bene!ts information fair organized by the university, by promising a monetary reward for attendance. The experiment multiplied by more than !ve the attendance rate of these treated individuals (relative to controls), and tripled that of untreated individuals within departments where some individuals were treated. TDA enrollment !ve and eleven months after the fair was signi!cantly higher in departments where some individuals were treated than in departments where nobody was treated. However, the effect on TDA enrollment is almost as large for individuals in treated departments who did not receive the encouragement as for those who did. We provide three interpretations—differentia...
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August 01, 2003
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This paper reviews recent randomized evaluations of educational programs in developing countries, including programs to increase school participation, to provide educational inputs, and to reform education. It then extracts some lessons for education policy and for the practice and political economy of randomized evaluations
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May 01, 2003
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Kenya’s education system blends substantial centralization with elements of local control and school choice. This paper argues that the system creates incentives for local communities to build too many small schools; to spend too much on teachers relative to non-teacher inputs; and to set school fees that exceed those preferred by the median voter and prevent many children from attending school. Moreover, the system renders the incentive effects of school choice counterproductive by undermining the tendency for pupils to switch into the schools with the best headmasters. A randomized evaluation of a program operated by a non-profit organization suggests that budget-neutral reductions in the cost of attending school and increases in non-teacher inputs, financed by increases in class size, would greatly reduce dropout rates without reducing test scores. Moreover, evidence based on transfers into and out of program schools suggests that the population would prefer such a reallocation of e...
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Working Paper
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January 01, 2003
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Colombia used lotteries to distribute vouchers which partially covered the cost of private secondary school for students who maintained satisfactory academic progress. Three years after the lotteries, winners were about 10 percentage points more likely to have finished 8th grade, primarily because they were less likely to repeat grades, and scored 0.2 standard deviations higher on achievement tests. There is some evidence that winners worked less than losers and were less likely to marry or cohabit as teenagers. BeneŽts to participantslikely exceeded the $24 per winner additional cost to the government of supplying vouchers instead of public school places.
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December 01, 2002
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We design a field experiment to test two theories of fund-raising for threshold public goods: Andreoni predicts that publicly announced “seed money” will increase charitable donations, whereas Bagnoli and Lipman predict a similar increase for a refund policy. Experimentally manipulating a solicitation of 3,000 households for a university capital campaign produced data confirming both predictions. Increasing seed money from 10 percent to 67 percent of the campaign goal produced a nearly sixfold increase in contributions, with significant effects on both participation rates and average gift size. Imposing a refund increased contributions by a more modest 20 percent, with significant effects on average gift size.
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February 01, 2002
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Between 1973 and 1978, the Indonesian Government constructed over 61,000 primary schools throughout the country. This is one of the largest school construction programs on record. I evaluate the effect of this program on education and wages by combining differences across regions in the number of schools constructed with differences across cohorts induced by the timing of the program. The estimates suggest that the construction of primary schools led to an increase in education and earnings. Children ages 2 to 6 in 1974 received 0.12 to 0.19 more years of education for each school constructed per 1,000 children in their region of birth. Using the variations in schooling generated by this policy as instrumental variables for the impact of education on wages generates estimates of economic returns to education ranging from 6.8 percent to 10.6 percent.
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March 01, 2000

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