Early childhood education and the role of psychological skills—Evidence from the Philippines

Most of us understand that investments in early childhood education matter. Quality education early in life not only leads to higher educational attainment, and typically increased learning, but also enables other positive outcomes—such as increased wages. Despite this broad understanding, important caveats exist.

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Mediation Analysis and the ‘Sequential Unconfoundedness’ Assumption

Students with the Centre for the Study of African Economies (CSAE) at the University of Oxford are creating a wonderful public good. The Coders’ Corner is a collection of tips and tricks for implementing useful statistical techniques in common statistical software (e.g., mostly Stata). This product represents a tremendous service to the broader research community. Almost anyone reading this blog should check out previous posts.

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The tangible and intangible effects of social networks

In a nice new(ish) working paper, Anandi Mani and Emma Riley review the recent and expanding literature on social networks, role models, peer effects, and aspirations in low and middle-income countries. In this post, I will summarize Mani and Riley’s review of the literature and offer my own commentary along the way. I will also comment on some of the methodological challenges implicit in this literature and will end with a discussion of what this all means for development policy.

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My Job Market Paper, in Blog Form

In the fall of 2013, while living in Kitale—a town in Western Kenya—I remember reading through several job market papers posted in blog form on the World Bank’s Development Impact blog. The experience, in part, inspired me to pursue graduate studies in development economics.

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How to Use the Front-Door Criterion — New Working Paper

If you follow Marc Bellemare’s blog or specifically his ‘Metrics Monday series, you will already be aware of our new working paper. The paper is titled: “The Paper of How: Estimating Treatment Effects Using the Front-Door Criterion.” The number of people who are reading this post and who do not already read Marc’s blog is probably very small. So, with that in mind, I will offer a few additional thoughts based on the preliminary work writing this paper.

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How reliable is survey data on personality traits from low- and middle-income countries?

Last week in the Weekly Links, David McKenzie shared a new paper recently published in Science. The paper, by Laajaj et al., examines the validity of quantitative measurements of the “Big 5” personality traits (e.g., openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and emotional stability) in developing countries. Here is the punchline:

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Aspirations and Real Estate Investment in Rural Myanmar — New Working Paper

Aspirations, or future-oriented goals, influence how we make choices in the present. In recent years, development economists have developed a particular interest in the way aspirations influence human behavior. The figure below plots my calculation of the number of published articles that mention “aspirations” cataloged in the EconLit database from 1956 through 2016.

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