New Research in Applied Social Economics
Saturday, Jan. 6, 2018 12:30 PM - 2:15 PM
- Chair: Quentin Wodon, World Bank
Working Out the Kinks: Challenges in Evaluating the Millennium Development Goals and Their Indicators
AbstractThe Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been set up for measurability and accountability. With their deadline now passed, empirical evaluation can take advantage of the indicators and the data they provide, especially since the MDGs have been structed in such a way to compare pre- and post-treatment results. However, statistical constraints in the form of availability, quality, and predictive ability all create roadblocks. This paper explores the possibilities and challenges of evaluating the MDGs using MDG 5, gender equality and women’s empowerment, as its focus. It starts by using the MDGs as a natural experiment in sub-Saharan Africa, testing for structural breaks and kinks, showing that although geared towards this purpose, the MDG architecture falls short of its goal. It then addresses the statistical roadblocks for doing so and separates the theoretical from the practical uses of the MDGs’ indicator-based structure. It argues that while MDG indicators are built to be measurement tools, they are in effect framing devices that have important implications for empirical evaluation. Value judgements obscured by the indicators resulting in these frames also have important implications, particularly for knowledge production and policy approaches.
Why Do Adolescent Girls Drop Out of School in Niger? A Combined Quantitative and Qualitative Analysis
AbstractThis article examines community-level factors that negatively impact girls’ educational attainment and often lead them to marry early in Niger. The focus is on rural areas where girls tend to have especially low levels of educational attainment, and are also more likely to marry as children (before the age of 18). Using both quantitative and qualitative data, we discuss the root causes leading girls to drop out of school in the country as a whole for the analysis based on national surveys, and in the Maradi region more specifically for the qualitative fieldwork. The sociocultural factors that influence education opportunities at the local level include child marriage and expectations about gender role, as well as the distance to secondary schools, the cost of schooling (both out-of-pocket and opportunity costs), and perceptions regarding the low quality of the education provided in schools.
Capital Flows and Socio-economic Development: Reputation, Outcomes and Circular Causalities
AbstractThis paper applies a new index of development based on the Human Development Index (HDI), called the Dynamic HDI (DHDI) to understand the relationship between capital flows (aid and foreign direct investment) and socio-economic development. Unlike the HDI and its variants which generate rankings based on how well-off/developed a country is terms of development indicators, the DHDI generates rankings based on how well a country is improving relative to its potential room for improvement across development indicators. As such the DHDI is a more robust measure of how well countries are developing/improving. The DHDI rankings are very different from the HDI rankings. Furthermore the rankings of the DHDI change from year to year in contrast to the rather stable HDI rankings. After introducing the DHDI the paper investigates two aspects of the relationship between capital flows and socioeconomic development. Specifically, it: i. Asks, how are capital flows influenced by HDI rankings? Such an analysis reverses the dominant causal link between capital flows being the cause and their effect on development being the effect, in the literature ii. Asks, what is the relationship between capital flows and DHDI performance? This follows the dominant analysis in the literature with the new index of development. Such an analysis will help understand how capital flows are affected by the perception of socio-economic development (do those who are seen as good keep getting more), and in turn how socio-economic development is affected by capital flows.
Social Norms as a Basis for Policy
AbstractWe make the case that the human nature should be considered in policy debates as it has been in the making for millions of years. The “blank-slate” conception is as inadequate as the rationality assumption. More specifically, the excessive emphasis on “financial incentives” misses miserably what may actually lie at the center of human motivation. In certain instances, markets could function to the extent that they can co-opt social instincts such as loyalty. For instance, in the achievement organizational objectives, pride in work and organizational identification (rooted in “us-them” distinction) may become key instincts to tap along with financial incentives. Generally speaking, social/moral sanctions may prove to be more effective as basis for regulatory policy. For instance, diffusing information about exemplary cases of successful energy conservation by households in the face of risks posed by climate change might be effective in eliciting the desired response. In fact, some experiments demonstrated that social incentives (“A lot of other people are trying to do it.”) may be much more effective than economic ones. for encouraging energy conservation. Similarly, printing carbon footprints on products may prove to be more effective than any market-based solution such as cap-and-trade in reducing greenhouse emissions as it shifts the focus from the realm of pure “exchange” to that of social norms (e.g. public shaming). Markets are beyond the pure domain of disinterested and calculated exchange. Instead, they presuppose and facilitate various forms of human sociality--a significant finding that could potentially improve the effectiveness of public policies.
- B5 - Current Heterodox Approaches
- I3 - Welfare, Well-Being, and Poverty