Chris Blattman

IPA’s weekly links

Photos: Babies with vaccination bracelets
Photo: Mothers waiting with their babies for vaccinations.
Mothers in Sierra Leone sitting outside a clinic, waiting for their child to be vaccinated. The children are wearing yellow “1st visit”‘ bracelets.

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • If you get this Friday AM, last I heard there were a few slots left for the webinar this afternoon on the latest thinking on microcredit/microloans (depending on what field you’re coming from). It’s at 1PM (US Eastern Time) from Tim Ogden at NYU’s Financial Access Initiative, featuring Gisella Kagy, Cynthia Kinnan, Karthik Muralidharan and Bruce Wydick.
  • Two great job market papers:
    • Amazing work by Anne Karing of Berkeley working with my IPA colleagues in Sierra Leone. Vaccinations have to be done in a sequence over a child’s first year, and it’s hard enough for people in rich countries to remember and keep up with it, let alone somewhere with scarce resources and lots of travel required. It required a massive amount of work upgrading the way health records are kept locally on top of the experimental work, but she tested the effects of handing out simple, color coded silicone bracelets to some mothers that publicly showed where their children were in their vaccination schedules. If I’m reading it right, the bracelets advertised to other mothers in the community that these mothers were keeping on schedule, and that influenced them to do the same. The simple bracelets increased vaccination rates by up to 14 percentage points which is a huge bump from a simple social signal.
    • A really cool paper from Meera Mahadevan at Michigan, who looked at elections in a large state in India, and then what the constituents of winners were then billed for electricity to nighttime satellite images of what they were actually using. Magically, the constituents of the winners of elections were later billed less for electricity than what the satellites showed they were actually using. 
  • The latest Freakonomics episode features work by Gharad Bryan, James Choi, and Dean Karlan (with the voices of the latter two), on testing the effects of the religious part of a religious aid program for very poor people in the Philippines. It turned out the program worked better with the religious component than without, boosting earnings. The larger episode is about the Protestant work ethic and if its effects are real and measurable. (Apple
  • A nice thread from John Holbein on teaching analysis of policies in his class. Every class group analyzing a change in a public policy found zero effect, and he reminds us that journals full of positive results condition us to expect something different than reality. He says we need more of a culture around precise nulls. (He also includes his class syllabus)
  • It’s academic interview season, here’s some advice on finding appropriate and affordable women’s clothing. (With gratitude to Sue Dynarski for helping me find it)
  • The Anthropocene Reviewed podcast is fun, popular author John Green reviews everyday parts of life (like the Taco Bell breakfast menu), and often researches how they came to be. (He’s a good wordsmith, so it’s fun to listen to him find meaning in them). The story behind the supermarket chain Piggly Wiggly and the founder of modern grocery shopping is nutso, and a great listen. (Apple)
  • The Jain Family Institute has a review of basic income research, which they’ve posted for the public.