In a recent blog post, Ronda Zelezny-Green and Alexandra Tyers claim “now scientific fact: mobile money can lift women out of poverty”. The scientific fact they cite comes from a new study [gated] published in Science by Tavneet Suri and William Jack. This study is an impact evaluation of M-PESA in Kenya using a quasi-experimental design, and it finds that increased access to M-PESA is associated with a decrease in poverty.
Since 2014, 3ie’s impact evaluation repository (IER) has been a comprehensive database of published impact evaluations of development programmes in low- and middle-income countries. We call the database comprehensive because we build it from a systematic search and screening process that covers over 35 indexes and websites and screens for all development programme evaluations or experiments that use a counterfactual method for estimating net impact.
Many consider pure replication, where the replication researcher starts with the original data set and writes code to recreate the published results according to the methods described in the publication, to be the second step in replication analysis. So, what is the first?
Anyone who has ever applied for a grant from 3ie knows that we care about theory of change. Many others in development care about theory of change as well. Craig Valters of the Overseas Development Institute explains that development professionals are using the term theory of change in three ways: for discourse, as a tool, and as an approach.
The hip word in development research these days is scale. For many, the goal of experimenting has become to quickly learn what works and then scale up those things that do. It is so popular to talk about scaling up these days that some have started using upscale as a verb, which might seem a bit awkward to those who live in upscale neighbourhoods or own upscale boutiques.