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Economics blogs impact positively on paper downloads and professional reputation : stand to exert an influence on policy.

December 9, 2011 1161

With large impacts on dissemination of research and significant benefits in terms of individual reputations, David McKenzie and Berk Özler, conclude that blogging academic or research work results in positive spillover effects for academic bloggers and their institutions while also influencing attitudes and knowledge amongst readers.

Survey evidence – why don’t you just ask blog readers?

A common suggestion in evaluating any program or intervention is just to ask the users what they gain from their use. Economists are justifiably suspicious of such responses when it comes to assessing impacts, since, among other concerns, people often find it hard to give answers with the right counterfactual in mind. Nonetheless, such questions can be very useful for process evaluation and qualitative insights. Certainly the likely impacts of blogs will be very different if all readers say that the blogs haven’t changed their behavior in any way compared to a situation in which they say it has in a number of ways.

Before launching Development Impact, we sent out a web survey to a variety of people interested in development economics – PhD and Masters students, field staff for an NGO, Assistant Professors, and World Bank Economists. The full sampling strategy and response rates are discussed in this detailed write-up here – a big thanks to those of you who answered the survey (and shame on you World Bank operational economists who had the lowest response rate).

The table below shows that most of the target sample read economics blogs, although most do so sporadically (only 40 percent of graduate students and 34 percent of assistant professors who read blogs do so at least a few times a week). Consistent with our first post, many readers say they have read a new economics paper as a result. There is also some encouraging evidence suggesting blogs are having policy influence – 44 percent of operational field staff and 34 percent of operational World Bank economists say they have changed their feelings about the effectiveness of a particular intervention as a result of reading blogs. Less common are changes in what people choose to ask in surveys or how they plan on analyzing data.

Read the rest at the LSE Impact Blog.

Original write- up at the World Bank’s Development Impact blog. The full working paper on the impact of economic blogs can be found here.

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