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Can Mobile Phones Improve Governance?

Nikita Kwatra | | December 10, 2018

Mentions work of Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus, Sandip Sukhtankar, and Jeffrey Weaver.

Selected Publications

A new study in the journal Nature by Sam Heft-Neal, Jennifer Burney, Eran Bendavid, and Marshall Burke provides evidence for a strong relationship between air quality and infant mortality in Africa. Stanford University's Center on Food Security and the Environment put together a Youtube video to explain the study. 

Balancing the Costs and Benefits of Aadhaar

Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus, and Sandip Sukhtankar offer insights based on their years of field work on the introduction of biometric authentication into India's social programs. 



Sound Advice from Indian Economists
Editorial | Economic Times | December 17, 2018

Mentions Karthik Muralidharan.

Rajan’s 13: These Top Economists and Bankers Can Help India Set Its Reform Agenda
Remya Nair | | December 17, 2018

Mentions Karthik Muralidharan.

Star Economists Give Ideal Macro Blueprint for India
Roshan Kishore | Hindustan Times | December 14, 2018

Mentions Karthik Muralidharan.

Loan Waiver May Not Bear Fruit for Farmers: Rajan
Richa Mishra | Hindu BusinessLine | December 14, 2018. 

Karthik Muralidharan quoted.

India’s Growth Not Creating Enough Jobs: Raghuram Rajan
Kirtika Suneja | Economic Times | December 14, 2018

Mentions Karthik Muralidharan.

Can Mobile Phones Improve Governance?
Nikita Kwatra | | December 10, 2018

Mentions work of Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus, Sandip Sukhtankar, and Jeffrey Weaver.

UC San Diego Plays Key Role in United Nations Initiative to Improve Human Welfare
Christine Clark | thisweek@ucsandiego | December 6, 2018

Features work by Gordon McCord. 

There are No Short Cuts to Building State Capacity
Yamini Aiyar | Hindustan Times | October 5, 2018 

Cites work of Karthik Muralidharan.

Education and Human Capital Redefined
Rachel Hommel | GPS News | September 28, 2018

Interview with PDEL affiliated researcher Agustina Paglayan.

Hiring Highly Educated Immigrants Leads to More Innovation and Better Products
Guarav Khanna and Munseob Lee | The Conversation | September 26, 2018

Research by Guarav Khanna and Munseob Lee on benefits to business from immigration.

New Research Forecasts U.S. among Top Nations to Suffer Economic Damage from Climate Change
Christine Clark | UC San Diego News Center | September 24, 2018

Cites work of Kate Ricke.

The Secret to Effective Foreign Aid? Sometimes, It's Giving Cash
Michael Faye and Paul Niehaus | Defense One | September 14, 2018

Fay and Niehaus comment on a USAID evaluation of aid projects in Rwanda. GiveDirectly was one of the project partners.

The Small Study in Rwanda that Could Change the Way the US Does Foreign Aid
Dylan Matthews | Vox | September 13, 2018

Work of PDEL Director Craig McIntosh cited.

Researchers Tested Conventional Foreign Aid Against Cash in Rwanda. Cash Won.
Michael J. Koren | Quartz | September 13, 2018

Work of PDEL Director Craig McIntosh cited.

Is Cash Better for Poor People Than Conventional Foreign Aid?
Marc Guenther | New York Times | September 11, 2018

Work of PDEL Director Craig McIntosh cited.

Air Pollution Killing More Ghanaians than AIDS, Malaria Combined
Ghana News Agency | September 9, 2018

Work of Jen Burney cited. 

Are We Over-investing in Baselines
World Bank Group | Sierra Leone Times | July 18, 2018

Mentions work of Karthik Muraliharan.

The Coming Split in NATO
Reihan Salam | Atlantic Monthly | July 12, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson and Craig McIntosh.

Air Pollution Is Killing Young Children in African Cities, Say Scientists
Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu | Quartz Africa | June 28, 2018

Cites work of Jen Burney.

Listen: Pollution Responsible for One-fifth of Infant Deaths in sub-Saharan Africa
Adam Levy | Nature podcast | June 27, 2018

Jen Burney interviewed.

Stanford Study Finds Poor AIr Quality Responsible for One in Five Infant Deaths in sub-Saharan Africa
Michelle Horton | Stanford News | June 27, 2018

Cites work of Jen Burney.

Africa's Air Pollution Killing Thousands of Infants
AP | New York Times | June 27, 2018

Cites work of Jen Burney.

Left to Devices, You Can Learn to Save Money
Chuck Finder | The Source, Washington University in St. Louis | June 18, 2018

Features work of Tarek Ghani, Joshua Blumenstock, and Michael Callen.

Immigrant Overload, not Brexit, Heralds the End of the European Union
Niall Ferguson | South China Morning Post | June 18, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson and Craig McIntosh.

Trump Is Actually Right About China Trade
Marshall Auerback | AlterNet | June 13, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson.

An Economic Sleuth
Christine Clark | UC San Diego News | June 7, 2018

Feature on PDEL-affiliated researcher Gaurav Khana

Cities as a Poverty-Alleviation Tool
Johan Fourie | Fin24 | May 31, 2018

Cites work of David Lagakos.

4 Reasons Slashing the Trade Gap with China Won't Boost the US
Carol Wolf | CBS News Moneywatch | May 23, 2018

Gordon Hanson quoted.

Four Big Questions About Job Guarantees
Dylan Matthews | Vox | April 27, 2018

Cites work of Paul Niehaus and Karthik Muralidharan.

Cory Booker's New Big Idea: Guaranteeing Jobs for Everyone Who Wants One
Dylan Matthews | Vox | April 20, 2018

Cites work of Paul Niehaus and Karthik Muralidharan.

UC San Diego Study: Anyone Can Be an Innovator
Christine Clark | UC San Diego News Center | April 18, 2018

Mentions work of Joshua Graff Zivin and Elizabeth Lyons on innovation. 

You Know Clean Air Is Good for Your Health, Did You Know It's Good for the Economy, Too? 
Rachel Ceransky | Ensia | April 17, 2018

Mentions work of Joshua Graff Zivin. 

San Diego's Scientists Span the Globe to Unearth New Discoveries, Solve Deepest Mysteries
Gary Robbins | San Diego Union-Tribune | April 15, 2018

Work of PDEL Director Craig McIntosh mentioned.

San Diego's Scientists Span the Globe to Unearth New Discoveries, Solve Deepest Mysteries
Gary Robbins| San Diego Union-Tribune | April 15, 2018

Work of PDEL Director Craig McIntosh mentioned.

Not Just Trump: More Economists Questioning Free-Trade Orthodoxy
Jean-Marc Vittori | Les Echoes [in French], trans. and reprinted on Worldcrunch | April 11, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 

George Mason Economics Department Embarasses Itself
Kevin Drum | Mother Jones | March 30, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 

Nonprofit GiveDirectly Receives $1 Million Donation from OmiseGO and Ethereum Creator Vitalik Buterin
Rebecca Campbell | CoinJournal (blog) | March 28, 2018

Work of Paul Niehaus mentioned. 

Trade Is Not a Job Killer
Donald Boudreaux | New York Times | March 28, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 

ATAI Announces Five Newly-Funded Evaluations
Agricultural Technology Adoption Initiative | March 21, 2018

PDEL Director Craig McIntosh mentioned. 

Some Things Are True Even if Trump Believes Them 
Thomas Friedman | New York Times | March 13, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 

Trump May Prosper from Tariffs Even if This Faded Ohio Port Town Doesn't 
David Lynch | Washington Post  | March 3, 2018

Gordon Hanson quoted.

China's Rising Tax on Information
Kelsey Ables | The Diplomat  | February 27, 2018

Molly Roberts quoted. 

Zombie Companies Walk Among Us
Tim Harford | Financial Times  | February 22, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 

Could a Trump Manufacturing Resurgence Revive US Marriage Rates? 
Brittany De Lea | Fox Business  | February 14, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 

Video: Manufacturing Makes Men More Marriageable
James Anderton | | February 14, 2018 

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 

Marriage, Fertility, and Blue-Collar Male Employment
James Anderton | National Review | February 10, 2018 

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 

12-Year Study Looks at Effects of Universal Basic Income 
Rebecca Linke | Sloan School of Management | January 31, 2018

Cites work of Paul Niehaus. 

Don't Blame Robots for President Trump
Noah Smith | Bloomberg | January 17, 2018

Cites work of Gordon Hanson. 


The 2017 War on the Rocks Holiday Reading List
War on the Rocks staff | November 24, 2017

Warlords and Coalition Politics in Post-Soviet States by Jesse Driscoll is recommended.

Molding Future Technical Experts
Rachel Hommel | GPS News | November 21, 2017

Interview with PDEL Director Craig McIntosh

Re 1 Spent On Rural School Inspectors Could Save India Rs 10 Spent on Absent Teachers Every Year
Vipul Vivek | IndiaSpend | November 1, 2017

Mentions work of  Karthik Muralidharan.

How to Get India’s Macroeconomic, Microeconomic Policies Right
Nirvikar Singh | Financial Express | October 30, 2017

Mentions work of  Karthik Muralidharan.

Burney, Campbell, Gentine, and Lin Receive 2017 Global Environmental Change Early Career Award
American Geophysical Union | October 26, 2017

Jennifer Burney featured. 

Evaluating Direct Cash Transfers Part II
Seetha | FirstPost India | September 7, 2017

Mentions work of  Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus, and Sandip Sukhtankar.

Evaluating Direct Cash Transfers Part I
Seetha | FirstPost India | September 7, 2017

Mentions work of Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus, and Sandip Sukhtankar.

What America Would Look Like If It Guaranteed Everyone a Job
Dylan Matthews | Vox | September 6, 2017

Mentions work of Karthik Muralidharan, Paul Niehaus, and Sandip Sukhtankar.

These 3 Barriers Make It Hard for Policymakers to Use the Evidence that Development Researchers Produce

Marrying Less and Dying Sooner: How the Downward Spiral of Manufacturing is Hurting American Men
Elena Holodny | Business Insider | August 9, 2017

Cites work of David Autor, David Dorn, and Gordon Hanson.

How to Fix Poverty: Why Not Just Give People Money? 
Nurith Aizenman  | NPR | August 7, 2017

Story on GiveDirectly

Is Guaranteed Income for All the Answer to Joblessness and Poverty?
David Noonan | Scientific American | July 18, 2017

Features the research of Paul Niehaus and GiveDirectly. 

NAFTA's Negotiation Is Back in the Table
Yamily Habib | Al Dia | July 17, 2017

Gordon Hanson is quoted.

Apprenticeships Aim to Fill the Skills Gap
Geddy Svikauskas | Hudson Valley One | June 28, 2017

Gordon Hanson is quoted.

What Do Latin America and Africa Have in Common?
Christopher Pratt | | June 28, 2017

New paper by Gordon Hanson, Chen Liu, and Craig McIntosh is cited. 

The U.S. Is Getting the Educated Immigrants It Needs
Noah Smith | Bloomberg View | June 28, 2017

New paper by Gordon Hanson, Chen Liu, and Craig McIntosh is cited. 

Public Service in India: Challenges and Solutions
Prateek Shula | Businessworld India | June 23, 2017

Work of PDEL-affiliated researcher Karthik Muralidharan is mentioned.

This Book Documents Bias Against African Muslims in France
Claire Adida and Kim Yi Dionne | Monkey Cage blog | Washington Post | June 9, 2017

This New Initiative is Trying to Make Scientific Research More Reliable
Joshua Tucker | Monkey Cage blog | Washington Post | June 8, 2017

Work of PDEL Director Craig McIntosh is mentioned.

Research to Help Mitigate Future Shocks to State's Water, Food, and Energy Supplies
UC San Diego News Center | February 16, 2017

Does Cash Transfer Improve Wellbeing of Beneficiaries, Asks Expert | January 31, 2017

Power Calculation Software for Randomized Saturation Experiments
Berk Ozler | World Bank Development Impact blog | January 17, 2017




Craig McIntosh & PDEL: A new empirical movement

Anthony King | GPS News | Oct. 1, 2014

Craig McIntoshIn a recent Q&A with Craig McIntosh, the popular professor of economics said his approach to teaching is to assume graduate students are serious about wanting to make the world a better place. Mixing development, applied economics and program evaluation, McIntosh successfully navigates his way into his 12th year at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS), taking the same approach in his own research.

“You are attempting to do something that matters in the world and you are also a professor,” he said. “It’s a question of balancing between the projects that you find most interesting from a policy perspective and the papers that you think are going to be most publishable from an academic perspective.”

McIntosh is a development economist who focuses on improving and perfecting program evaluation: not just asking specific research questions, for example, but looking to see if how those questions are being answered in the best way possible. He is currently investigating how to boost savings among the poor, on whether schooling or cash payments can be used as a tool to fight HIV/AIDS and on mechanisms to improve the long-term efficiency of agricultural markets.

His own graduate work was done at UC Berkeley, where he gained a PhD in agricultural and resource economics before moving into researching micro-finance services. He said agricultural economics was a “natural home” for him and his fieldwork, and he credits the program at Berkeley for preparing him for success.

“The department I went to had three sub concentrations, which were development, environment and agriculture. I took all three concentrations and I feel like I’m working at some level at the juncture of all three fields,” he said. Subsequently, he has conducted field evaluations in Mexico, Guatemala, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania.

Combining policy and development

McIntosh is also co-director of the Policy Design and Evaluation Lab housed at IR/PS. The lab’s focus is, as you can imagine, empirically driven academic research at the interplay of public policy and economic development, most often using new technology: mobile phones, real-time data and cash transfers, just to name a few.

This education and experience — including time spent with a host family in Africa where he saw first hand the struggle small business owners had in making ends meet — led to his interest in looking at the complete market system. He wants to know how agriculturally based, rural markets function and what is needed to help people expand their reach without causing a drop in prices and, subsequently, keep small-scale farmers from improving their families’ lives.

“These things have all become very linked together in terms of my research because my main technical interest is in experimental design and the design of randomized trials, particularly trials that are intended to capture spillover effects and general equilibrium effects like price impacts,” he said, but numbers and profit are not the only end result.

Just as graduate-level economics has moved from the realm of theory to applied, real-world economics, so has McIntosh’s view of the overall goals of a professor. In a sense, he has turned the role of research professor away from sitting in offices to one where partnering with those in the field is more productive. He calls it a new empirical movement.

“You don’t do research by sitting around and thinking about what might happen. You do research by going to the ground, finding the organizations that are innovators, building collaborations with them and then working with them,” he said. “I’ve never wanted to work inside the ivory tower, and this is now an era in which you can really succeed in academia doing things that are very applied and very practical.”

Experts at PDEL

PDEL plays a part in supporting active field research too, by providing expert staff with deep experience in grant management, human subject protection applications, international contract handling and research-related applications. McIntosh said the lab looks to “ease the administrative burden” to allow researchers to do bigger, better projects.

“PDEL is only a couple years old now, but it has grown very quickly, partly because we are operating in a space where UC San Diego is truly a world-class university and has a completely unusual set of faculty who work across social-science disciples with no borders at all,” McIntosh said. “The particular intellectual thrust that PDEL has is this confluence of technology and development, which as opened up all of these incredibly exciting new possibilities.”

One example is a project monitoring illegal mining in the Philippines by empowering non-governmental organizations with mobile-based tools, and another, headed by McIntosh, is working to create a high-frequency market survey. If successful, it could radically alter the ability to capture data and open up the use of new technology as a policy tool in places like rural Africa.

“It looks like data capture, but it actually starts to become an intervention,” he said, and then you can move further and further down this road in terms of mobile money, mobile banking.”

One again, McIntosh shows there is a place for both large-scale policy implementation and academic research.

“There are projects that fail and don’t end up being papers, and there are projects that succeed and end up generating multiple papers,” he said. “The resolution of this tension has opened up a fantastic win-win. IR/PS is way ahead of the rest of the world in terms of seeing that these two disciples can talk directly to each other.”

PDEL recaps first year’s collaboration with USAID

IR/PS News | May 13, 2014 

Policy Design and Evaluation Lab co-Director Craig McIntosh and Project Manager Wallied Shirzoi recently met with Development Impact Lab representatives (DIL) at UC Berkeley for an open house, showcasing projects and activities currently being implemented under US Agency for International Development (USAID) partnerships with several development research labs across the country.

Those in attendance from USAID included Tara Hill, program manager; Ashley Heiber, Higher Education Solutions Network program analyst; and Genevieve Croft, AAAS Science and Technology Policy fellow.

The biannual meeting marked the end of the first year of PDEL’s collaboration with USAID, which provided funding for the recently closed Spring 2014 Request for Applications competition that was open to all DIL affiliate institutions, as well as projects from several School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IR/PS) faculty.

McIntosh presented PDEL’s Information Communication Technology for Accountability (ICT-A) portfolio, which included the first year’s demonstration projects and second year’s pilot projects. Other presentations included business macros and progress on the Spring 2014 ICT-A grant competition, as well as future proposals that would extend support to UC San Diego graduate students who wish to be certified in impact evaluation knowledge and experience.

Policy Design and Evaluation Lab announces research support

IR/PS News | Feb. 27, 2014

The Policy Design and Evaluation Lab (PDEL) held an open house on Wednesday, Feb. 26 to help UC San Diego researchers understand how PDEL can support their research and provide information about the Development Impact Lab (DIL) grant competition.

Housed at the School of International Relations and Pacific Studies, PDEL in an interdisciplinary center supporting faculty in applying for experimental-research funding, managing aspects of research relationships and running field-based projects. The open house introduced PDEL to a larger community of researchers, with over 20 attendees from across campus. PDEL co-Director Craig McIntosh, Manager Lisa Woinarski and Project Manager Wallied Shirzoi oversaw the meeting.

For providing research support, Woinarski said PDEL will help any project using experimental methods in social sciences, including field, laboratory or natural experiments. Their “extended service” research support offers a comprehensive package of support to research leads who submit their grants through PDEL. They can help guide research through the entire process – from proposal through completion – as well as offer select project-management guidance, written directly into the grant.

“By growing the flow of grants moving through the university we hope to support investigators and to create a financially sustainable environment for applied research at UC San Diego,” McIntosh said.

PDEL is also managing UC Berkeley’s spring DIL grant competition, focusing on innovative uses of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to address global development problems. Open to PDEL-affiliated researchers, approximately five grants of $50,000 to $200,000 will be awarded to support the design and rigorous testing of ICT for international development. The application deadline is March 31.


New report outlines primary education policy recommendations for India

Christine Clark | May 27, 2013

Karthik Muralidharan, professor of Economics and PDEL affiliated faculty member, traveled to half-way across the world to New Delhi during the spring quarter to conduct a 3-hour workshop on evidence-based policy making in primary education, all without having to reschedule or cancel a class. 

India's 12th 5 Year PlanAt the invitation of the Education Minister of India Dr. Pallam Raju, the workshop was attended by several top officials of the Government of India who work on primary education policy, including the Minister of State for Education, Dr. Shashi Tharoor.  Muralidharan designed the workshop based on a paper written for the Government of India's 12th Five-Year Plan that summarizes a decade of high-quality research on primary education in India. The research summarized in this paper highlights that simply increasing the inputs to primary education in a 'business as usual' way are unlikely to change the trajectories of student learning in a meaningful way unless accompanied by significant changes in pedagogy and/or improvements in governance.

"Priorities for Primary Education Policy in India’s 12th Five-year Plan" is a forthcoming paper in the National Council of Applied Economic Research (NCAER)-Brookings India Policy Forum 2013. 

Several points and suggestions in this paper have been incorporated into the official 12th Plan document of the Government of India. These highlights in the paper were discussed in Muralidharan’s workshop, some of which help the Government of India implement cost-effective strategies for meeting the goals outlined for education in the 12th Plan. The workshop was well received and even tweeted about by both ministers.

The paper was also integrated into Muralidharan’s economics classroom curricula at UC San Diego. His students were directly engaged with the research underlying this workshop in  Muralidharan's undergraduate course on Economic Development (Econ 116). The course syllabus featured several of the recent research studies summarized in the paper and the paper itself was required reading.  

In fact, the workshop was scheduled over Memorial Day so that Muralidharan could travel to India over the weekend, conduct the workshop on Monday, and travel back in order to not miss a single class. His students then received a first-hand account of the workshop results and experienced the process of current research being directly applied to policy-making. 

UC San Diego launches groundbreaking policy research lab

Christine Clark | UC San Diego News | April 22, 2013

UC San Diego is launching the Policy Design and Evaluation Lab (PDEL), a breakthrough academic endeavor which combines advanced social science methods with the power of information technology to develop policies and programs that alleviate poverty; promote health, welfare, and security; and enhance accountability.

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