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Working Paper: Estimating Impact With Surveys Versus Digital Traces: Evidence From Randomized Cash Transfers in Togo (Dean Karlan, Christopher Udry, Emily Aiken, Suzanne Bellue, and Joshua Blumenstock)

February 14, 2024 – from IPR
Do non-traditional digital trace data and traditional survey data yield similar estimates of the impact of a cash transfer program? In a randomized controlled trial of Togo’s COVID-19 Novissi program, endline survey data indicate positive treatment effects on beneficiary food security, mental health, and self-perceived economic status. However, impact estimates based on mobile phone data – processed with machine learning to predict beneficiary welfare – do not yield similar results, even though related data and methods do accurately predict wealth and consumption in prior cross-sectional analysis in Togo. This limitation likely arises from the underlying difficulty of using mobile phone data to predict short-term changes in well-being within a rural population with fairly homogeneous baseline levels of poverty. The researchers discuss the implications of these results for using new digit

Working Paper: Women and the Econometrics of Family Trees ( Joseph Ferrie, José-Antonio Espín-Sánchez, and Christopher Vickers)

February 14, 2024 – from IPR
The researchers present an econometric structure for the analysis of intergenerational mobility that integrates non-linearities, the role of maternal-side effects and the impact of grandparents. They show how previously estimated models are special cases of this general framework and what specific assumptions each embeds. Their analysis of linked U. S. data 1900–40 reveals the extent to which inadequate consideration of assortative mating and the impact of mothers produces misleading conclusions.

Working Paper: Immigration Enforcement and Public Safety (Elisa Jácome, Felipe M. Gonçalves, and Emily K. Weisburst)

February 8, 2024 – from NBER
How does immigration enforcement affect public safety? Heightened enforcement could reduce crime by deterring and incapacitating immigrant offenders or, alternatively, increase crime by discouraging victims from reporting offenses. We study the U.S. Secure Communities program, which expanded interior enforcement against unauthorized immigrants. Using national survey data, we find that the program reduced the likelihood that Hispanic victims reported crimes to police and increased the victimization of Hispanics. Total reported crimes are unchanged, masking these opposing effects. We provide evidence that reduced Hispanic reporting is the key driver of increased victimization. Our findings underscore the importance of trust in institutions as a central determinant of public safety.