IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • Good links from David McKenzie this week (as always), including this one from CSWEP on mentoring underrepresented minority women in economics.
  • As much as it pains me to link to both David *and* my other Friday links competitor, Tim Ogden of NYU’s faiV, (which focuses on financial inclusion) he’s got a really good piece on CGAP’s blog. It’s ostensibly on what can we expect to learn from financial inclusion research, but really about systematic reviews and meta-analyses in general, and how we’re limited by the scope of very specific studies, and lack of standardized reporting. Studies are often limited in scope to begin with (for instance, analyzing effects of a financial product on individual users, but not spillovers on the economy as a whole), then once you start reducing and reducing to just what’s common among studies AND reported in a way that’s comparable, you’ve limited the scope of what can be concluded. Standardized reporting might be a helpful solution.
  • The National Academies had a task force of big brains assigned to figure out how to cut U.S. child poverty in half in a decade (which the U.K. did between 2001-2008) . Here’s a good summary of what they recommended. Even shorter highlights:
    • Without current programs, child poverty would be higher than it is now, so we’re already helping
    • Just expanding two existing programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child and Dependent Care Tax Credit would do half the job by themselves
    • Reducing child poverty would likely save the country substantial amounts of money in the long run through increased employment, lowered healthcare costs, and reduced incarceration
  • In honor of my absentee landlord Chris, here’s advice on writing a book if you happen to be considering it, from financial writer Jason Zweig.
  • If you want to know what Chris is teaching now, see his lecture slides from the first couple weeks of his Order and Violence class.
  • From the Arnold Foundation, programs which have positive RCT results may have their effects fade over time, which you never know if you don’t do long-term follow-up. This is similar to what Chris, Nathan Fiala, and Sebasian Martinez found with IPA in Uganda doing a 9-year follow up of a cash grant/transfers program. Grantees who got $400 increased their earnings for a number of years (compared to a control group which didn’t), but by 9 years out, the control group had caught up and had similar earnings. (All those intermediate years of increased earnings were more than the amount they received, so it worked, but we should be careful about extrapolating beyond the time period for which we have data.) h/t Marc Gunther
  • Jobs: