IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • Stanford’s Robb Willer’s TEDx talk on how to have better political conversations.
  • Nice news from Muralidharan, Singh, & Ganimian. In India, a computer tutoring program improved kids’ math and Hindi a lot in just a few months. The key seems to have been the computer program was individualized to each kid’s level, with the big gains coming from the kids who started worst off.
    • Conceptually, this fits well with what’s already known about education failures in many poor places – that even when kids get to school, they often come in at such a low level that many can’t keep up with the standard curriculum. They subsequently just advance through the grades not understanding what’s going on. Giving those kids extra help seems to work, but the challenge is doing it in a way that’s affordable and scalable to large numbers. Muralidharan, et. al. just offered a voucher for an existing program in Delhi, combining a customizable computer program and classroom lessons and found it was cheap and effective.
  • ICYMI from Chris, IPA and J-PAL are hiring for new initiatives focusing on crime and violence prevention, and post-conflict peace and recovery.
  • In a development I’ve never seen before in development, two advocacy orgs seem to be offering a grant for research just to try to dispute an education RCT currently underway. The researchers respond here (link to the proposal there, and disclaimer that IPA’s running the targeted RCT).
  • Starvation is so bad in parts of Northern Nigeria’s Borno state where Boko Haram is displacing populations, that some aid workers suspect all children under age five have died. Most outsiders aren’t allowed into the camps to see it directly, but a few weeks ago there was an undercover investigation published.
  • From The Economist, on a program that, post-Haiti earthquake, allows some Haitians to temporarily go to the U.S. to work (via David McKenzie):

A new study by Michael Clemens and Hannah Postel of the Centre for Global Development compares those Haitians who secured visas through the project with unsuccessful applicants left behind. The benefits were mind-boggling: the temporary migrants earned a monthly income 1,400% higher than those back in Haiti. Most of their earnings flowed back home in the form of remittances. For comparison, a 10-30% raise would normally be cause for celebration.