Displaying all posts under the topic of Research Methodology
October 1, 2013
An Expert Recommendation from our Big Questions Section on the topic of Credit
This summer the Journal of Development Studies accepted a manuscript by Jonathan Morduch and myself laying out our critique of an influential microcredit study from the 1990s by Mark Pitt of Brown University and Shahidur Khandker of the World Bank. Our article should appear in the journal this year or next. The...
June 18, 2013
When it comes to costs and benefits, we at FAI tend to focus on benefits. The recent release of the Compartamos microfinance impact evaluation was thus a big event in our office. With our heads in the academic literature, we tend to write a lot about RCTs and other ways to measure benefits of interventions.
We’re contributing to a problem, though. There...
May 14, 2013
In last week’s blog post, I suggested that self-reported data should be supplemented with objective sources of information from independent third-party entities. Sometimes, however, independent data sources simply aren’t available and researchers have no choice but to base their analysis on self-reported data. Under these circumstances, some data collection methodologies might be more useful than others in ensuring that self-reported data are reliable. In...
May 7, 2013
Program evaluations and policy proposals are only as good as the data upon which they are based. Although we all know this to be true, discussions about the reliability of data, especially self-reported data, have only recently emerged in the field of development economics. The other week, I highlighted two papers from the Journal of Development Economics’ Symposium on Measurement...
April 24, 2013
A regular theme in our writing is about the need for the microfinance industry to learn from and adapt to the needs of poor households. A few weeks ago, a new paper appeared based on an interesting attempt to test whether MFIs are interested in generating and using rigorous evidence. The researchers sent emails to 1,419 MFIs inquiring about their interest in "a partnership to randomly evaluate their programs." There were three different emails sent however: 1) a neutral email, 2) an...
April 5, 2013
The fastest growing part of the financial inclusion movement isn’t a product or even a standard, it’s data and measurement. And if there’s something experts are increasingly agreeing on, it’s that it is illusory to try to define financial inclusion in any precise, universal way. John Gitau says he’s confused, and so am I. How do you measure financial inclusion?
It’s true that you might not be able to measure financial inclusion...
March 20, 2013
In a recent post, Tim Ogden and I discussed the importance of having solid, reliable data on which to base program evaluations and policy decisions. The Journal of Development Economics explored this theme in last year’s Symposium on Measurement and Survey Design which featured more than a dozen papers on improving data quality in development research (Hat tip to Berk Ozler of the...
February 20, 2013
What’s next? Jonathan Morduch says: Making RCTs more useful.
When you’re thirsty, that first gulp of water is really satisfying. But after months of just drinking water, you’ll likely start hoping for more from your beverages.
I think that’s where we are with RCTs of microfinance.
The first microfinance RCTs were refreshing. They quenched a thirst for any credible, rigorous evidence on microcredit...
January 30, 2013
A new theory of change is emerging for microfinance. People from poor households tap microfinance services to smooth consumption and build assets to protect against risks ahead of time and cope with shocks and economic stress events after they occur—leading to widespread poverty alleviation but not widespread poverty reduction.
This is the narrative coming out of the financial diaries reviewed by...
January 25, 2013
Last November, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Office of Financial Empowerment hosted a conference on “Empowering Low-Income and Economically Vulnerable Consumers: Making the Case through Access, Data and Scale.” A key highlight of the conference was a breakout session about the incentives and obstacles to collecting data in the field. Leading the session were representatives...