Sunday, November 4, 2007

Questioning Assumptions

There is no great desire to get too immersed into what seems to be the tit-for-tat gotchas of Marginal Revolution coments again, because they either offer little real insight into economics just political bickering or are just too much technical minutiae. There are a few posts that get to the heart of what is of interest. One particular example directly questions a previously held premise. Tyler Cowen introduces us to Vivian Hoffman, currently a Ph.d. candidate at Cornell.

Here is the abstract on her main paper

This paper reports results from a field experiment in Uganda. Whether a mosquito net was purchased or received for free affected who within the household used the net. Free nets were more likely to be allocated to those members of the household most vulnerable to malaria, whereas purchased nets tended to be used by the household's main income earners. The effect was strongest for free nets received by the mother, increasing the probability that all children five and younger slept under nets by 26 percent relative to when nets had been purchased by either parent or given to the father.

This makes a seemingly substantial argument against the social entrepreneurship approach as it relates to the distribution of mosquito nets. Of course what it might be indicating is that women, in these situations, should be making the economic decisions and not men regardless of whether it was charity or social entrepreneurship. The social status of mean and women and their interrelationships has shown to be very important in these programs. The Grameen successes were, as I understand it, mostly with women.

Vivian does, however, find the discussion on the Marginal Revolution blog helpful having far greater familiarity with the language of economics.

Thanks everyone for your interest in my work. In my current revision I’m dropping the (tedious and unnecessary) theory section and dealing with the potential sample selection bias arising from the fact that I only observed net use in the households that purchased any nets. The new version should be up tomorrow (what timing!!)

Posted by: Vivian at Oct 16, 2007 7:39:29 PM

No comments:

Post a Comment