16 January 2019

PubhD Kigali

For any readers in (or visiting) Kigali (presumably a niche audience), I've started a monthly research talk event, using the PubhD format that is going in around 20 European cities now.

3 speakers get 10 minutes each to present their research, followed by Q&A. It's a great way to learn a bit about some random subjects you might not have considered much before, for the speakers to practice their extended elevator pitch, and a pretty low-effort way of organising some kind of regular academic vaguely seminar-like discussion for me.

The next one is this Thursday at 7.30pm, see here for more details, and get in touch if you'd like to speak sometime.

Does temporary migration from rich to poor countries cause commitment to development?

Nevermind that none of the journals I've sent it to so far are interested, my new working paper got picked up by Marginal Revolution the king of economics blogs, which is probably way better anyway right?
Public support in rich countries for global development is critical for sustaining effective government and individual action. But the causes of public support are not well understood. Temporary migration to developing countries might play a role in generating individual commitment to development, but finding exogenous variation in travel with which to identify causal effects is rare. In this paper I address this question using a natural experiment – the assignment of Mormon missionaries to two year missions in different world regions – and test whether the attitudes and activities of returned missionaries differ. Data comes from a unique survey gathered on Facebook. Missionaries assigned to treat regions (Africa, Asia, Latin America) are balanced with those assigned to the control region (Europe) on high school test scores and prior language and travel experience. Those assigned to the treatment region report greater interest in global development and poverty, but no difference in support for government aid or higher immigration, and no difference in personal international donations, volunteering, or other involvement.
Here's the link to the paper and the twitter discussion

15 January 2019

Testing, testing: the 123's of testing

Here's my summary of the new Annika Bergbauer, Eric Hanushek, and Ludger Woessmann working paper for CFEE.
"teachers tend to oppose standardised tests, partly because they perceive them to narrow the curriculum and crowd out wider learning. However, it is intuitive that the effects of testing could vary dramatically by context. Indeed, the impact may very well follow a so-called “Laffer curve”. At low levels of testing, an increase may lead to better performance as it provides relevant information and incentives to actors in the education system. Yet if there are already high levels of testing, further increases may very well decrease performance, due to stress, for example, or the effects of an overly-narrowed curriculum. If so, we should expect the impact of testing to follow an inverted U-curve – or at the very least display diminishing returns. Furthermore, the impact of tests is also likely to depend on exactly how they are used in the education system. 
This paper provides perhaps the first systematic evidence on these issues"
Read the rest here.