IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • It’s remarkably hard to solve the puzzle of why small and medium enterprises in the developing world don’t grow more, in fact IPA has a whole program devoted to answering that question. Training programs often don’t work, but new RCT results from Egypt show one program that does – “learning by exporting” – giving carpet makers access to foreign markets led to productivity and quality improvements that stuck, and higher profits. More on the blog here.
  • The Millennium Villages Project, which takes a grand (and expensive) approach to reshaping systems in a select number of poor villages, has come under significant criticism, both for results (or lack thereof) and for not having included a robust evaluation plan to tell if the $120 million initially raised was worth it. Apparently there has been a new evaluation plan accepted as a paper into the Lancet, but Michael Clemens points out it still hides the overall cost of the project, which is crucial to making decisions on any intervention. More on their analysis plan here. (The Japanese government just gave an additional $1.4 million to the project in Rwanda). 3ie video of a talk starting at midline results here.
  • As the RISE program gets ready to embark on six years of research on improving education in the developing world, Lee Crafurd and Justin Sandefur present twenty-five of the best ideas out there as a good place to start.
  • A new paper (PDF) in PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases reports worm infection rates of over 40% among school children in southern China, with lower cognitive functioning among infected children.
  • The non-profit GiveDirectly which just gives cash to poor people, in addition to publishing real time performance data on their website, randomly chose six of their first recipients from 2012 to return to and see how they are doing. On their blog, they report what recipients said the money did for them. (IPA’s evaluation of GiveDirectly is here.)

And: Robert Smith from NPR has a new macroeconomic indicator – banks in New York are running out of Euros because of all the reporters flocking to Greece.

But the best thing in recent memory comes from Chris if you didn’t see it earlier. Princeton Economist Uwe Reinhardt, dissatisfied with economists’ ability to do anything for global economies, is giving up and wrote a syllabus for teaching Korean Television Drama (PDF).