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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the STRIPES trial was to assess the effectiveness of providing supplementary, remedial teaching and learning materials (and an additional 'kit' of materials for girls) on a composite of language and mathematics test scores for children in classes two, three and four in public primary schools in villages in the Nagarkurnool division of Andhra Pradesh, India. STRIPES was a cluster randomised trial in which 214 villages were allocated either to the supplementary teaching intervention (n = 107) or to serve as controls (n = 107). 54 of the intervention villages were further randomly allocated to receive additional kit for girls. The study was not blinded. Analysis was conducted on the intention to treat principle, allowing for clustering. Composite test scores were significantly higher in the intervention group (107 villages; 2364 children) than in the control group (106 villages; 2014 children) at the end of the trial (mean difference on a percentage scale 15.8; 95% CI 13.1 to 18.6; p<0.001; 0.75 Standard Deviation (SD) difference). Composite test scores were not significantly different in the 54 villages (614 girls) with the additional kits for girls compared to the 53 villages (636 girls) without these kits at the end of the trial (mean difference on a percentage scale 0.5; 95% CI -4.34 to 5.4; p = 0.84). The cost per 0.1 SD increase in composite test score for intervention without kits is Rs. 382.97 (£4.45, $7.13), and Rs.480.59 (£5.58, $8.94) for the intervention with kits. A 18 month programme of supplementary remedial teaching and learning materials had a substantial impact on language and mathematics scores of primary school students in rural Andhra Pradesh, yet providing a 'kit' of materials to girls in these villages did not lead to any measured additional benefit. Controlled-Trials.com ISRCTN69951502.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(7):e65775.
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    ABSTRACT: Guinea Bissau is one of the poorest countries in the world, with one of the highest under-5 mortality rate. Despite its importance for policy planning, data on child mortality are often not available or of poor quality in low-income countries like Guinea Bissau. Our aim in this study was to use the baseline survey to estimate child mortality in rural villages in southern Guinea Bissau for a 30 years period prior to a planned cluster randomised intervention. We aimed to investigate temporal trends with emphasis on historical events and the effect of ethnicity, polygyny and distance to the health centre on child mortality. A baseline survey was conducted prior to a planned cluster randomised intervention to estimate child mortality in 241 rural villages in southern Guinea Bissau between 1977 and 2007. Crude child mortality rates were estimated by Kaplan-Meier method from birth history of 7854 women. Cox regression models were used to investigate the effects of birth periods with emphasis on historical events, ethnicity, polygyny and distance to the health centre on child mortality. High levels of child mortality were found at all ages under five with a significant reduction in child mortality over the time periods of birth except for 1997-2001. That period comprises the 1998/99 civil war interval, when child mortality was 1.5% higher than in the previous period. Children of Balanta ethnic group had higher hazard of dying under five years of age than children from other groups until 2001. Between 2002 and 2007, Fula children showed the highest mortality. Increasing walking distance to the nearest health centre increased the hazard, though not substantially, and polygyny had a negligible and statistically not significant effect on the hazard. Child mortality is strongly associated with ethnicity and it should be considered in health policy planning. Child mortality, though considerably decreased during the past 30 years, remains high in rural Guinea Bissau. Temporal trends also suggest that civil wars have detrimental effects on child mortality. Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN52433336.
    BMC Public Health 09/2011; 11:683.
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    Science 01/2010; 327(5965):534-5.
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    ABSTRACT: The high school exit exam (HSEE) is rapidly becoming a standardized assessment procedure for educational accountability in the United States. I use a unique, state-specific dataset to identify the effects of failing the HSEE on the likelihood of dropping out of high school based on a regression discontinuity design. The analysis shows that students who barely failed the exam were more likely to exit than those who barely passed, despite being offered retest opportunities. The discontinuity amounts to a large proportion of the dropout probability of barely failers, particularly for limited-English-proficiency, racial-minority, and low-income students, suggesting that the potential benefit of raising educational standards might come at the cost of increasing inequality in the educational system.
    Economics of Education Review 01/2010; 29(2):171-186.
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    ABSTRACT: Participatory health education interventions and/or community-based primary health care in remote regions can improve child survival. The most recent data from Guinea Bissau shows that the country ranks 5th from bottom globally with an under-five mortality rate of 198 per 1000 live births in 2007. EPICS (Enabling Parents to Increase Child Survival) is a cluster randomised trial, which is currently running in rural areas of southern Guinea Bissau. It aims to evaluate whether an intervention package can generate a rapid and cost-effective reduction in under-five child mortality. The purpose of the study described here was to understand levels of knowledge on child health and treatment-seeking and preventative behaviours in southern Guinea Bissau in order to develop an effective health education component for the EPICS trial. The study also aimed to assess the effect of gender and ethnicity on knowledge and behaviour. Women and men were interviewed in their households using a structured questionnaire. Characteristics of the households and of the interviewed women and men were tabulated. The number of correct answers given to the health knowledge and practice questions and their percentage distribution were tabulated by items and by gender. An overall health knowledge score was derived. There are low levels of appropriate knowledge on child health, some inappropriate practices and generally low vaccination coverage. Health knowledge scores improve significantly amongst those who have accessed higher education. Differences in health knowledge between women and men become insignificant once age and education are accounted for. Health education activities should be an integral part of a package to improve child survival in rural Guinea Bissau. These activities should focus on diarrhoea, malaria, pneumonia, pregnancy, delivery, neonatal care and vaccination coverage, as these are areas where knowledge and practices were found to be inadequate in this study. Men as well as women should be involved in these activities. Prior to developing health education interventions in similar settings, studies to assess areas to be targeted should be conducted.
    BMC Public Health 01/2010; 10:319.
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    ABSTRACT: The paper considers three methods for eliminating the zero lower bound on nominal interest rates and thus for restoring symmetry to the domain over which the Central Bank can vary its official policy rate. They are: (1) abolishing currency (which would also be a useful crime-fighting measure); (2) paying negative interest on currency by taxing currency; and (3) decoupling the numéraire from the currency/medium of exchange/means of payment and introducing an exchange rate between the numéraire and the currency; this exchange rate can be set over time to achieve a forward discount (expected depreciation) of the currency vis-à-vis the numéraire when the nominal interest rate in terms of the numéraire is set at a negative level for monetary policy purposes.
    The North American Journal of Economics and Finance 01/2009; 20(3):213-238.
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    ABSTRACT: In 1996 the UK made major changes to its welfare system for the support of the unemployed with the introduction of the Jobseeker's Allowance. This tightened the work search requirements needed for eligibility for benefit. It resulted in large flows out of claimant status, but, this paper concludes, not primarily into employment. The movement out of claimant status was largest for those with low levels of search activity. But, this paper finds no evidence of increased job search activity as a result of this change.
    Labour Economics. 01/2009;
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    ABSTRACT: Empirical evidence suggests that risk premia are higher at business cycle troughs than they are at peaks. Existing asset pricing theories ascribe moves in risk premia to changes in volatility or risk aversion. Nevertheless, in a simple general equilibrium model, risk premia can be procyclical even though the volatility of consumption is constant and despite a countercyclically varying risk aversion coefficient. We show that agents' expectations about future prospects also influence premium dynamics. In order to generate countercyclically varying premia, as found in the data, one requires a combination of hump-shaped consumption dynamics or highly persistent shocks and habits. Our results, thus, suggest that factors which help match activity data may also help along the asset pricing dimension.
    Macroeconomic Dynamics 01/2009;
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    ABSTRACT: This paper proposes a new method for estimating true cost-of-living (Konüs) indices, for large numbers of commodities, using data only on prices, aggregate budget shares and aggregate expenditure. Conventional chain indices are path-dependent unless income elasticities are (implausibly) all equal to 1. The method allows this difficulty to be overcome. I show that to estimate a Konüs index, only income and not price elasticities are required. The method is applied to estimate a Konüs price index for 70 products covering nearly all the UK's Retail Prices Index over 1974–2004, using the Quadratic Almost Ideal Demand System. The choice of base year for utility has a significant effect on the index.
    Journal of Econometrics. 05/2008;
  • Industrial Relations A Journal of Economy and Society 04/2008; 26(1):30 - 45.
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