Fellow Jan Willem Gunning will give his valedictory speech on January 24, 2014 at the VU University Amsterdam. For over 20 years Jan Willem Gunning has been a professor of development economics at the Faculty of Economics and Business Administration of the VU. Jan Willem Gunning is retiring from the VU University Amsterdam this month.

Gunning is a board member of the Amsterdam Institute for International Development (AIID). Previously, he was professor in economics at the University of Oxford where he directed the Centre for the Study of African Economies. His research interests include impact evaluation, changes in poverty, and the effect of risk on growth in rural societies.

He holds an honorary doctorate (2007) of the University of Auvergne (France), awarded for his leading role in economic research on Africa, and is a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). Jan Willem Gunning supervised 31 PhD students, representing 16 nationalities.

Jan Willem Gunning’s latest publication, with Chris Elbers, entitled ‘Evaluation of Development Programs: Randomized Controlled Trials or Regressions?’ is forthcoming in The World Bank Economic Review.


Abstract article World Bank Economic Review

Can project evaluation methods be used to evaluate programs: complex interventions involving multiple activities? A program evaluation cannot be based simply on separate evaluations of its components if interactions between the activities are important. In this paper a measure is proposed, the total program effect (TPE), which is an extension of the average treatment effect on the treated (ATET). It explicitly takes into account that in the real world (with heterogeneous treatment effects) individual treatment effects and program assignment are often correlated. The TPE can also deal with the common situation in which such a correlation is the result of decisions on (intended) program participation not being taken centrally. In this context RCTs are less suitable even for the simplest interventions.

The TPE can be estimated by applying regression techniques to observational data from a representative sample from the targeted population. The approach is illustrated with an evaluation of a health insurance program in Vietnam.


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