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paulniehaus221 karma

we monitor every recipient pretty closely -- 99%+ followup via call center to check for any issues like asked for a bribe, domestic dispute, etc., and can pause payments in those cases. we'd do the same here. then there are the macro risks (e.g. exchange rate shocks, post-election violence) which we're hedging financially and with the ability to send payment remotely without needing boots on the ground

paulniehaus148 karma

thanks Kyle, super question =)

I think there are a few key practices that matter a lot here. First, experimental - randomly assigned treatment and control groups. Second, pre-announced and pre-specified. Defined in advance what outcomes you'll measure, so you can't ex-post data mine. Third, involve credible external researchers whose careers depend on a reputation for objectivity. We're working w/ Abhijit Banerjee on this one for example.

There's a lot more and this is one of my favorite topics, but that's a snapshot

paulniehaus144 karma

in many ways I think this is the same discussion we've been having with folks ever since starting GD- how should we think about the poor, what do the data say. I think it takes time for perceptions to change, but I always find people react really positively to the data (below).

work effort: http://economics.mit.edu/files/10849

temptation goods: http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/2014/05/19546774/cash-transfers-temptation-goods-review-global-evidence

paulniehaus132 karma

Jurgen thanks for joining - we're likewise excited to watch and learn from your project

agreed there are big differences and hopefully there will be dozens of high-quality tests globally in the next few years. if nothing else we want the East Africa experiment to motivate further testing.

beyond that though I do think the political opposition to UBI rests on some pretty strongly held beliefs about human nature - other people are irresponsible, we can judge better what's best for them - that this project will speak to, and at least force a closer examination.

paulniehaus100 karma

I think we're different. our goals go well beyond the direct impact of the cash; we're aiming to reform the aid industry and get people to routinely explain why they think they can do better than cash transfers. a lot of money gets spent every year on stuff with no evidence at all, or evidence it doesn't work. so we're really happy that GiveWell now does this, and we'd expect that in any given year they ought to be able to find a few opportunities that "beat cash."

the basic income project is a good example of a situation where we think we can both delivery highly cost-effective direct aid to individuals and also in doing so inform and reshape a much larger and important policy debate