Chris Blattman

Signs that your targeting strategy is working…

For our street youth project in Liberia, the aim is to see how environment, time preferences and credit constraints contribute to poverty and instability. We then (experimentally) introduce interventions to address each.

Before handing out cash to hundreds or thousands of street youth, we want to make sure we’re not giving the Monrovia drug market it’s biggest demand shock in history. So we’re piloting the study with a group of a hundred: 25 will get cash; 25 will get a program of cognitive behavior change (the “transformation program”) focused on impulse control, patience and planning; 25 will get both; and 25 will be followed as a control sample. Eventually we’ll scale up.

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.

On two different occasions in the past week our respondents allegedly stole from community members–some tennis shoes and a blind man’s radio–so at least anecdotally we’ve got the right guys.

We also had one mobilizer visit a respondent in jail (for stabbing a woman) and upon release he came to do behavioral measurements and was selected into the transformation program.

On the first day the head of our mobilization and program team, Dexter, approached one youth to interest him in the program. About 30 seconds into his schpeel, the respondent gets excited: “Are you guys finally getting the boys together again? I’ve been waiting for this.”

As an outcome measure, I suppose you can do worse than “left to fight in Cote d’Ivoire”.

2 Responses

  1. “Signs that your targetting strategy is working…”/// Or Signs that some serious Hawthorne Effect is kicking in. The subjects in the study may not be the “participants” you think they are. Read Bayart’s “Africa in the World: A History of Extraversion,” again.

  2. “Signs that your targetting strategy is working…” ///Or signs that some serious Hawthorne Effect is kicking in. The subjects in your experiment are not fools. Read Bayart “Africa in the World : A History of Extraversion,” again.

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