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Getting Out the Vote, Innovatively
A fascinating article in the Sunday magazine of The New York Times describes how techniques developed by behavioral science researchers are at the forefront of a dramatic change in how politicians and parties get out the vote. The emerging data-driven approach to moving voters was co-pioneered by Don Green, currently Visiting Distinguished Professor at NYU Wagner & NYU Abu Dhabi.
"As the 1998 elections approached, Green [and fellow Yale professor of political science Alan Gerber] partnered with the League of Women Voters to split 30,000 New Haven voters into four groups," the article explains. "Some received an oversize postcard encouraging them to vote, others the same message via a phone call or in-person visit. One control group received no contact whatsoever. After the election, Gerber and Green examined Connecticut records to see who actually voted. The in-person canvass yielded turnout 9.8 percent higher than for voters who were not contacted. Each piece of mail led to a turnout increase of only 0.6 percent. Telephone calls, Gerber and Green concluded, had no effect at all."
The Times article goes on to describe why the results have proven so seminal.
As it happens, the article appeared just a few days after Professor Green spoke at Wagner's doctoral colloquium October 28.
Green has written extensively on a range of topics, including voter turnout, campaign finance, perceptual bias, rational learning, experimental methods, and rational choice theory. He is currently writing a book on field experiments in the social sciences. His resume and other materials can be found here.
Global Experts Offer First Look at New Research on Microfinance
More than 200 researchers, practitioners and business leaders convened in New York City for a first look at research results on the impact of microfinance. The Microfinance Impact and Innovation Conference 2010, co-hosted by the Financial Access Initiative (FAI) at NYU Wagner and other leading research and financial institutions, was held Thursday, October 21st; 22nd; and 23rd at headquarters of the Deutsche Bank and the Moody's Corporation.
The research presented at the Conference follows on the heels of an initial report, released in 2009, about the first-ever randomized evaluations of microfinance, which sparked a debate over whether and how much microfinance is helping the poor. The results of several follow-up studies presented at the latest Microfinance Impact and Innovation Conference offer fresh insights on how and to what degree microfinance affects the lives of poor households around the world.
"The results of the first microfinance impact evaluations were controversial because the world was eager to find that one magic bullet that will finally "solve" poverty," said Esther Duflo, co-author of one of the first-ever impact evaluations of microfinance in India, and professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "The studies showed that microfinance is not magic. But while we didn't discover that microfinance launches people out of poverty, we did discover that it's making a very real difference to some people. The new, forthcoming research will help us discover more about who benefits from microfinance and help us design financial products that work better for the poor."
The Microfinance Impact and Innovation Conference 2010 attracted senior researchers, policymakers, practitioners and investors committed to preparing the next generation of thinkers and leaders in microfinance, and to the global expansion of financial markets in poor communities. The event was hosted by not only the Financial Access Initiative (FAI), but also by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), Moody's Corporation, Deutsche Bank and the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP).
Important new impact results from a randomized evaluation of a microfinance program in Morocco were aired, along with evaluations of microsavings and microinsurance, and livelihood programs for the "ultra poor." Conference sessions were devoted to the presentation of new research on microfinance product design, social performance measurement, and consumer protection. Additionally, illuminating sessions were dedicated to bringing together researchers and practitioners to design future research on product design and financial inclusion that will help usher in the next generation of services for the "bottom billion."
Global warming is focus of report by a number of leading experts including NYU Wagner's Rae Zimmerman
A report released Feb. 17, 2009, by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg found that the city's average annual temperatures could increase by 4 to 7.5 degrees, yearly rainfall will increase by 5 to 10 inches, and seas could rise by up to 23 inches, or even 55 inches if the rate of ice melt in Greenland and Antarctica persists in speeding up.
NYU Wagner Professor Rae Zimmerman is a member of the expert panel convened by the city government and financed by a $350,000 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. Professor Zimmerman is Director of the Institute for Civil Infrastructure Systems (ICIS), housed at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University.
The panel also predicted more frequent and intense "extreme events," like heat waves, short periods of intense rain, droughts, and coastal flooding.
The report is entitled "Climate Risk Information" and can be seen by clicking on the link below.
Google Fellowship Awarded to NYU Wagner Professor
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Planning Sarah M. Kaufman has been awarded a fellowship by Google to attend the Personal Democracy Forum. In all, the travel fellowships were given to 15 leading women in civic technology.
Professor Kaufman is Digital Manager at NYU Wagner's Rudin Center for Transportation, where she researches, advocates for and educates about cutting-edge technologies in transportation. Her work focuses on crowdsourcing, open data and social media in urban transportation systems. In addition, she manages the Rudin Center's web presence at NYURudinCenter.com and created the popular Short Talks, Big Ideas event series, an exchange of innovate projects and ideas between transportation thinkers and practitioners.
Grameen Foundation appoints NYU Wagner grad Fernando Henao Velasco as Country Director for Colombia
Grameen Foundation has named recent NYU Wagner graduate Fernando Henao Velasco (MPA, 2010) as its new country director for Colombia. He will lead the organization's efforts to expand access to agricultural information and financial services for the rural poor via mobile technology, and the creation of tools and programs to improve the lives of farming families throughout the country.
A native of Colombia, Henao was previously the planning director of the Colombian Corporation for Agriculture and Livestock Research (Corpoica), the government agency that leads research and technology transfer for farmers. He also worked in Colombia's Ministry of Finance and the Office of the Government Advisor on Coffee Affairs, and was a consultant on local development for the United Nations Development Programme in New York. He holds a B.A. Economics and a J.D. from Universidad de Los Andes and his Master of Public Administration from NYU Wagner.
“I am thrilled to join Grameen Foundation and to work with an incredibly talented team at the country and global level to design and implement practical technology solutions to empower people living in poverty," he said. “Colombia is in the middle of an important transition that will enable us to reach and provide more economic opportunities to the millions of families living in rural areas. I look forward to building significant partnerships in Colombia and across Latin America that lead to measurable, meaningful improvements in the lives of these families."
Grameen Foundation has worked in Latin America for more than a decade. Since opening its office in Colombia in 2011, it has focused on designing solutions that harness mobile phones and local networks of people to help poor farming households increase their productivity and income, and improve their lives.