Dan Levy

Levy, Dan, Joshua Yardley, and Richard Zeckhauser. 2015. “Getting an Honest Answer: Clickers in the Classroom”.Abstract

Asking students to raise their hands is a time-honored feedback mechanism in education. Hand raising allows the teacher to assess to what extent a concept has been understood, or to see where the class stands on a particular issue, and then to proceed with the lesson accordingly. For many types of questions, as the evidence here demonstrates, the tally from a public show of hands misrepresents the true knowledge or preferences of the class. The biases are predictable and systematic. Specifically, students raising their hands tend to herd and vote with the majority answer. Beyond impeding the teacher’s ability to assess her class, such herding threatens to diminish learning by limiting the level to which a student engages with the questions posed by the teacher.

Levy, Dan, and Dean Yang. 2013. “Competing for Jobs or Creating Jobs? The Impact of Immigration on Native-Born Unemployment in Venezuela, 1980-2003.” Venezuela Before Chávez: Anatomy of an Economic Collapse. Vol. Penn State University Press, Penn State University Press, Ed. Ricardo Hausmann and Francisco R. Rodríguez.Abstract

At the beginning of the twentieth century, Venezuela had one of the poorest economies in Latin America, but by 1970 it had become the richest country in the region and one of the twenty richest countries in the world, ahead of countries such as Greece, Israel, and Spain. Between 1978 and 2001, however, Venezuela’s economy went sharply in reverse, with non-oil GDP declining by almost 19 percent and oil GDP by an astonishing 65 percent. What accounts for this drastic turnabout? The editors of Venezuela Before Chávez, who each played a policymaking role in the country’s economy during the past two decades, have brought together a group of economists and political scientists to examine systematically the impact of a wide range of factors affecting the economy’s collapse, from the cost of labor regulation and the development of financial markets to the weakening of democratic governance and the politics of decisions about industrial policy.

Levy, Dan, Harounan Kazianga, Leigh Linden, and Matt Sloan. 2013. “The effects of "girl-friendly schools": evidence from the BRIGHT School Construction Program in Burkina Faso.” American Economic Journal of Applied Economics 5 (3): 41-62. Publisher's VersionAbstract

We evaluate a 'girl-friendly' primary school program in Burkina Faso using a regression discontinuity design. After 2.5 years, the program increased enrollment by 19 percentage points and increased test scores by 0.41 standard deviations. For those caused to attend school, scores increased by 2.2 standard deviations. Girls' enrollment increased by 5 percentage points more than boys' enrollment, but they experienced the same increase in test scores as boys. The unique characteristics of the schools are responsible for increasing enrollment by 13 percentage points and test scores by 0.35 standard deviations. They account for the entire difference in the treatment effects by gender.

Levy, Dan, Anca Dumitrescu, and Matt Sloan. 2011. “Impact evaluation of Niger's IMAGINE program.” http://www.mathematica-mpr.com. Mathematica Policy Research, 1-104. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The IMAGINE program was designed to improve educational outcomes of girls in Niger. IMAGINE was funded by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and was a component of the three-year Threshold Program in Niger (NTP) dedicated to reducing corruption, registering more businesses, promoting land titling, and increasing girls’ school enrollment, attendance, and completion rates. In December 2009, MCC suspended the NTP in the midst of implementation due to undemocratic actions undertaken by the government. While most of the NTP components were not sufficiently implemented to allow for a rigorous evaluation of their intended impacts, the girls’ education project had been substantially implemented by that time and is thus the focus of our evaluation.

The girls’ education program, locally known as IMAGINE, was implemented in 10 departments in Niger with low girls’ enrollment and primary school completion rates. Plan International, a nongovernmental organization, was responsible for implementing IMAGINE under the supervision of USAID, during 2008–2010.  The program consisted of constructing 68 primary schools and implementing a set of complementary interventions designed to increase girls’ enrollment and completion rates. The schools were based on a prototype that included three classrooms, housing for three female teachers, a preschool, and separate latrines for boys and girls equipped with hand- washing stations. Schools were deliberately located near a water source and a well was installed close by. The complementary interventions included designing and disseminating training modules for teachers, promoting extracurricular activities, providing teacher incentive awards, and conducting a mobilization campaign in support of girls’ education. Due to the suspension of the NTP, the IMAGINE program was only partially implemented. Sixty-two functional schools were constructed, but the majority of the complementary activities were not implemented.

This report documents the main findings from the impact evaluation of the IMAGINE program. Overall, IMAGINE had a 4.3 percentage point positive impact on primary school enrollment, no impact on attendance, and no impact on math and French test scores. The program impacts were generally larger for girls than for boy . For girls, the program had an 8 percentage point positive impact on enrollment and a 5.4 per centage point impact on attendance. The program had no impact on girls’ math scores, though there is suggestive evidence it may have had a positive impact of 0.09 standard deviations on girls’ French test scores. No significant impacts were detected for boys’ enrollment, attendance, or test scores. Finally, impacts were larger for younger children (ages 7-10), than for those between the ages of 10 and 12.

Levy, Dan, and Jim Ohls. 2010. “Evaluation of Jamaica's PATH conditional cash transfer programme.” Journal of Development Effectiveness 2 (4): 421-441. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper summarises the findings of an evaluation of the Programme of Advancement through Health and Education (PATH), a conditional cash transfer programme implemented by the Government of Jamaica. The authors find that PATH was generally implemented as intended; exhibited better targeting to the poor than other similar social assistance programmes in Jamaica; and had positive and statistically significant impacts on school attendance and number of preventive healthcare visits for children. They find no evidence, however, that PATH was able to affect longer-term outcomes such as marks, grade progression, or healthcare status.

Levy, Dan, Harounan Kazianga, Leigh Linden, and Matt Sloan. 2009. “Impact Evaluation of Burkina Faso's BRIGHT Program, Final Report.,” Mathematica Policy Research, Inc., June 12, 2009. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report documents the main findings from the impact evaluation of the BRIGHT program. In general, the main conclusions are that BRIGHT had about a 20 percentage point positive impact on girls’ primary school enrollment, and had positive impacts on Math and French test scores for both girls and boys. The evaluation was conducted by an independent research contractor, Mathematica Policy Research, Inc. (MPR), and two consultants, Leigh Linden (Columbia University) and Harounan Kazianga (Oklahoma State University). Data for the evaluation were collected by a team of researchers at the University of Ouagadougou led by Jean Pierre Sawadogo. The impact evaluation sought to answer three key questions: (1) What was the impact of the program on school enrollment? (2) What was the impact of the program on test scores? (3) Were the impacts different for girls than for boys? While two other reports have documented that the program was implemented as intended, by and large, this evaluation focuses on assessing its impacts.

Blair, Randall, Larissa Campuzano, Dan Levy, and Lorenzo Moreno. 2009. “Toward closing the evaluation gap: lessons from three recent impact evaluations of social programs in Latin America and the Caribbean.” Well Being and Social Policy 5 (2): 1-23. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Despite recent growing demand from funders and governments, rigorous impact evaluations in Latin America and the Caribbean remain the exception rather than the rule. Many commissioned impact evaluations are methodologically weak, and thus only marginally useful in assessing the impact of social interventions. Other impact evaluations feature strong research methodologies at their conception, but face considerable institutional challenges during key points in the design and implementation phases. This paper identifies some of the barriers that limit the design and implementation of rigorous impact evaluations in this region, as well as several enablers to the successful design and implementation of such evaluations. The paper also outlines some key practices for designing and implementing high-quality impact evaluations in Latin America and the Caribbean. We use a case study methodology that combines our experience designing and implementing impact evaluations in three ongoing or recent social programs in El Salvador, Jamaica, and Mexico.

Kremer, Michael, and Dan Levy. 2008. “Peer Effects and Alcohol Use among College Students.” Journal of Economic Perspectives 22 (3): 189-206. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This paper examines the extent to which college students who drink alcohol influence their peers. We exploit a natural experiment in which students at a large state university were randomly assigned roommates through a lottery system. We find that on average, males assigned to roommates who reported drinking in the year prior to entering college had a Grade Point Average (GPA) one quarter-point lower than those assigned to nondrinking roommates. The effect of initial assignment to a drinking roommate persists into the second year of college and possibly grows. The effect is especially large for students who drank alcohol themselves in the year prior to college. In contrast to the males, females' GPAs do not appear affected by roommates' drinking prior to college. Furthermore, students' college GPA is not significantly affected by roommates' high school grades, admission test scores, or family background. These findings are more consistent with models in which peers change people's preferences than with models in which peers change people's choice sets. Surprisingly, the policy of segregating drinkers by having substance-free housing could potentially lower average GPA in the university.

Levy, Dan, and Jim Ohls. 2007. “Evaluation of Jamaica's PATH Programme: Final Report.,” MPR Reference No. 8966-090, March 2007. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This report summarizes the findings of an evaluation of a social safety net initiative, the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education (PATH), which was undertaken by the Government of Jamaica, beginning in 2001. The main objectives of the initiative, which is operated by the Ministry of Labour and Social Security (MLSS), are to achieve better targeting of welfare benefits to the poor and to increase human capital by conditioning receipt of the benefits on participants meeting certain requirements for school attendance and health care visits.

Levy, Dan, Johanne Boisjoly, Michael Kremer, and Jacque Eccles. 2006. “Empathy or Antipathy? The Impact of Diversity.” American Economic Review 96 (5): 1890-1905. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Mixing across racial and ethnic lines could spur understanding or inflame tensions between groups. We find that white students at a large state university randomly assigned African American roommates in their first year were more likely to endorse affirmative action and view a diverse student body as essential for a high-quality education. They were also more likely to say they have more personal contact with, and interact more comfortably with, members of minority groups. Although sample sizes are too small to provide definitive evidence, these results suggest students become more empathetic with the social groups to which their roommates belong.