The GiveWell Blog

Literature reviews

All I was trying to say in the last post could be summed up like this:

This is an awesome literature review about early child care programs. It describes how the author found all the papers she discusses … it is totally straightforward about what the methodological strengths and weaknesses of each paper are … and, hold on to your seats – the tables on pages 218 and 223 can only be described as “rock star.” At a glance, you can see all the studies under discussion, who they looked at, how they looked, and what they found.

The literature review I discussed on Saturday is nothing of the sort. It’s unclear about study design, it makes broad claims whose support is unclear, and of course, there are no awesome tables.

If only people were as determined to take a tough look at microlending as they are at Head Start. But of course, Head Start is politics; it affects us all; it’s important; it’s difficult; it’s controversial; it needs to be argued about. Microlending is charity, so it’s none of those things. That all checks out, right?