IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

Berhanu Nega

  • A profile of a former Bucknell professor of African development economics who now leads an Ethiopian rebel army. He may be more qualified than most rebel leaders to comment on what he sees as the illusion of a decade of 11 percent annual economic growth in the country:

Nega insists that Ethiopia has “cooked the books,” and that its growth rate is largely attributable to huge infrastructure projects and Western development aid, with little contribution from the private sector. “The World Bank is throwing money at Ethiopia like there’s no tomorrow,” he told me. The actual growth rate, he insists, is closer to 5 to 6 percent — per capita income is still among the lowest in the world — and the weakness of the country’s institutions will mean that even this rate cannot be sustained.

  • A Dutch company stopped its bikes from being damaged in shipping by putting pictures of flat screen TVs on the boxes.
    • And if you haven’t seen it, how that country stops bikers from being hit by car doors opening by teaching drivers the “Dutch reach,” (opening your car door by reaching across your body with the opposite arm, forcing you to turn and look behind you).
  • Two papers from a larger study on education in Kenya focusing on what keeps kids in school:
    • David Evans summarizes one which used qualitative methods to supplement the quant findings on why so many kids end up dropping out.
      • It’s typically the kid’s decision, not the parents’.
      • They point out that often it’s what happens before the study began which puts them on the dropout trajectory. The low level the kids were starting from means they can’t keep up with the class, which is demoralizing.
      • There are still costs associated with “free” schooling
    • Co-author Matthew Jukes discusses one intervention that reduced dropouts by 50 percent: teacher support via text messages.
      • It’s noteworthy that another sensible-sounding intervention, pairing up 6th-grade and 3rd-grade kids to read with them twice a week, didn’t improve reading for either group of kids.
  • David has another good blog post on what works in education.
  • The Development Impact Blog is once again offering Ph.D. students on the job market an opportunity to blog your job market paper.
  • Seven tips for Master’s students who want to go into development (h/t Duncan Green).

Don’t forget to carve your #EconoPumpkin, but looks like we’re out of luck for Halloween costumes once again:

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