Almost as awesome as the title suggests


Charles Remington *is* the treatment

A new working paper, titled “Household Vulnerability to Wild Animal Attacks in Developing Countries: Experimental Evidence from Rural Pakistan.” Alas, this does not involve crazy academics running around unleashing wild animals on unsuspecting villages. The abstract:

Based on a three-year panel dataset of households collected in rural Pakistan, we first quantify the extent to which farmers are vulnerable to attacks by wild boars; we then examine the impact of an intervention on households’ capacity to reduce related income losses. A local nongovernmental organization implemented the intervention as a randomized controlled trial at the beginning of the second survey year. This experimental design enabled us to cleanly identify the impact of the intervention. We find that the intervention was highly effective in eliminating the crop-income loss of treated households in the second year, but that effects were not discernible in the third year. The finding from the third year could be due to the high implicit cost incurred by the households in implementing the treatment. Regarding the impact of the intervention on a number of consumption measures, the difference-in-difference estimate for the impact on consumption was insignificant in the second year, but highly positive in the third year when estimated without other controls. A part of this consumption increase was because of changes in remittance inflows. The overall results indicate the possibility that treatment in the absence of subsidies was costly for households due to hidden costs, and hence, the income gain owing to the initial treatment was transient.

So instead of randomising boar attacks, they randomised what I will dub a boar counter-insurgency strategy:

With the help of the district’s agriculture and livestock departments, PHKN designed a pilot version of the Anti-WBA Program (AWBAP). The main objective of this program was to prevent WBAs and subsequent crop-income losses. The program comprises HRD training that focuses on the awareness and prevention of WBAs. The prevention component of the program imparts information on basic techniques for scaring or trapping animals and for curtailing boar-population growth. Moreover, under the program, some basic equipment and animal drugs were provided free of charge to the treated households, upon the successful completion of training.

Drugs? From the footnote:

Drugs are used in the long term to control the boar population. It is claimed that female boars lose their fertility after consuming the drugs; however, the efficacy of the drugs has not yet been established.

So, using The Ghost and the Darkness as an analytical framework (which, frankly, I do for most things in life), they aren’t randomising the lions, they’re randomising Michael Douglas.

Hat tip to Ranil for finding this one.