What the roomful of executives saw upon the first screening was a shock—a slow and quiet semireligious, jazz-filled 25 minutes, voiced by a cast of inexperienced children, and, perhaps most unforgivably, without a laugh track. “They said, ‘We’ll play it once and that will be all. Good try,’ ” remembers Mendelson. “Bill and I thought we had ruined Charlie Brown forever when it was done. We kind of agreed with the network. One of the animators stood up in the back of the room—he had had a couple of drinks—and he said, ‘It’s going to run for a hundred years,’ and then fell down. We all thought he was crazy, but he was more right than we were.”
On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, the UN gave to me,
Twelve jumbled re-writes,
Eleven confused targets,
Ten woolly commitments,
Nine ill-formed panels,
Eight NGOs grumbling,
Seven vague consultations,
Six preening leaders,
Five tuuuu-uuurf wars!
Four BRICs ignoring,
Three rambling summits,
Two dozen speeches,
And confusion on in-equal-ityyyyyy…..
Hat tip to @viewfromthecave.
As you can see, I mean that literally.
- For those with an MA or PhD, my wife Jeannie is hiring a research manager at IRC for several evaluations of governance and rights interventions–covering stabilization, conflict mitigation, local development and service delivery, especially in the Democratic Republic of Congo and Somalia.
- For those with an MA, my colleague Macartan Humphreys is hiring a program and research manager for the Experiments in Governance and Politics (EGAP) network at Columbia University. You’ll sit right outside the offices of me, Macartan and Don Green.
- And for those with a BA or MA, I am still accepting applications until the end of the month for my research manager position.
Data scientists at Facebook compared users’ hometowns with their current homes to discern the 10 cities with the most “coordinated migrations,” where at least 20% of the population of one city has moved to another city.
Source. The top 10 destinations:
- Lagos, Nigeria
- Istanbul, Turkey
- Bogota, Columbia
- Bangkok, Thailand
- Accra, Ghana
- Hyderabad, India
- Kampala, Uganda
- Lima, Peru
- Chennai, India
- London, Great Britain
People will get excited about the big data, but the insight I drew was that urban politics and economics are woefully understudied in development.
“Every dollar that a corrupt official or a corrupt business person puts in their pocket is a dollar stolen from a pregnant woman who needs health care,” Kim said during a panel.
“In the developing world, corruption is public enemy No. 1.”
Corruption is a big problem. But I would say it is closer to enemy number 12 than number 1. Here is why.
To be fair, if I were World Bank president, probably my smartest political move would be to go to a conference every week on a different X and tell them that X is public enemy number 1, and then bask in their self-congratulatory applause.
Seriously, I’d like to hear the argument that corruption is more detrimental to development than civil wars, HIV/AIDS, coups, over-centralization of Presidential power and the absence of public accountability, and possibly the dearth of secondary and tertiary education, or absence of credit and insurance markets. And on and on.
As impossible as any of these things are to fix, they could well be more straightforward for the Bank than fixing corruption.
If I had to pick the one way that Kim could put dollars into the pockets of a pregnant woman who needs health care tomorrow, I have a suggestion.
Yes, corruption hurts far more people, but Kim has even more leverage over that than corruption, so the impact of his actions on human welfare would probably be greater.
Birthday wishes for JPAL’s 10th (with props to IPA) from several of its
survey monkeys and Stata minions valued research staff:
As a former survey monkey and Stata minion myself (and a current employer of several) I wholeheartedly concur.
To put on my grumpy old man hat for a moment, I will point out that in the good old days we raised money for our own plane fare. Thank goodness we are past that.
JPAL and IPA are doing their annual hiring drive now, so do apply.
If you’re looking for an NYC-based position, I’m also recruiting. I pledge there will be pretty much zero stapling.
The approach of 2015, the target date of the Millennium Development Goals, sets the stage for a global reengagement on the question of “what is development?” We argue that the post-2015 development framework for development should include Millennium Development Ideals which put into measurable form the high aspirations countries have for the well-being of their citizens. Standing alone, low bar targets like the existing Millennium Development Goals “define development down” and put at risk both domestic and global coalitions to support to an inclusive development agenda. Measuring development progress exclusively by low bar targets creates the illusion that specific targeted programs can be an adequate substitute for a broad national and global development agenda.
A paper from Lant Pritchett and Charles Kenny.
I would also like to subtly remind anyone working on the agenda that just because China and Russia won’t support goals relating to political freedoms, doesn’t mean that they won’t support broader “political” goals and ideals–such as access to justice or freedom from violence.
North Korean state media outlet the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) has deleted over 35,000 articles from its on-line archives.
“There were 35,000 articles dated September 2013 or earlier on KCNA in Korean. If they’re leaving the odd one in, it’s still a kill ratio of 98-99%,”
…In addition, Feinstein said that approximately 20,000 articles had also been removed from the archives of the Rodong Sinmun, North Korea’s state newspaper.
“This is a a calculated thing they’ve done. Across all sites, it means the order most likely came from above each individual agency.
“This is what makes it so interesting – it’s a true North Korean purge, not just a KCNA one,” Feinstein explained.
- This is one of the cleverer field experiments I’ve seen
- Water flowing freely on surface of Mars?
- Breaking Bad spinoff coming to AMC and Netflix
- Vatican and Oxford to post 1.5 million pages of ancient manuscripts online
- Is it a good investment for firms in malaria-prone places invest in employee bednets? Maybe not.
I have been misinterpreted, for which I only have my brevity and haste to blame.
Yesterday I wrote:
more and more I wonder whether the causal fetish club in labor and development economics (of which I am a card-carrying member) is asking too many old and tired questions with clever causation rather than new and important questions. I think the young economic historians, political economy people, and comparative politics crowd are way out in front on this.
A commenter asked:
What do you mean by the new and important questions that rely less on estimating causal effects? Can you give an example from the fields you mention?
And Duncan Green tweeted
Is ‘causal fetish club in labor and development economics’ tired and obsolete asks @cblatts. Yup.
To be clear, I don’t think causation is less important than before. Of course it’s not the only thing empirical scholars should focus on (I have a prediction paper coming out soon). But some of the best work does it well.
What I get a little tired of is the 300th paper on the returns to education in the US. Or the 44th paper that revives the Catholic schools and performance question. Or the 3000th paper that uses information to increase voter turnout.
A big part of the reason scholars work on them is not because there is something new to learn, but because other people worked on them before. The schooling literature is one used to teach us economists the lessons and evolution of causal identification. People of my generation like cute new schooling papers just like we like new Star Wars movies, or a re-release of The Goonies. We love them and despise them.
The new and exciting stuff is still causally identified, but it’s asking new and interesting questions. In the sphere of political economy of development, if you want to see examples look up Nathan Nunn, Jake Shapiro, David Atkin, Suresh Naidu, Fotini Christia, Macartan Humphreys, Nancy Qian, Ted Miguel, or Leonard Wantchekon, to name just a few. See my syllabus for more.
A lot of economists have spent a lot of time debating whether and why Catholic schools lead to better student outcomes in the US. Selective students or better schools?
I’m can’t quite remember why we care, but even I can appreciate a clever identification strategy: Nuns and Vatican II! The paper:
…we show that the positive correlation between Catholic schooling and student outcomes is explained by selection bias.
Spearheaded by the universal call to holiness and the opening to lay leadership, the reforms that occurred at the Second Vatican Council (Vatican II) in the early 1960s produced a dramatic exogenous change in the cost/benefit ratio of religious life in the Catholic Church. The decline in vocations that followed contributed to a significant increase in costs and, in many cases, to the closure of Catholic schools.
We document that this decline was heterogeneous across US dioceses, and that it was more marked in those dioceses governed by a liberal bishop. Merging diocesan data drawn from the Official Catholic Directory (1960-1980) and the US Census, we show that that the variation in the supply of female religious teachers across US dioceses is strongly related to Catholic schooling.
Using the abrupt decline in female vocations as an instrument for Catholic schooling, we find no evidence of positive effects on student outcomes.
And you thought Scrabble points were a cute instrument.
Seriously, though, more and more I wonder whether the causal fetish club in labor and development economics (of which I am a card-carrying member) is asking too many old and tired questions with clever causation rather than new and important questions. I think the young economic historians, political economy people, and comparative politics crowd are way out in front on this.
P.S. I like my title better than “Nuns and the Effects of Catholic Schools: Evidence from Vatican II”, and I heartily encourage the authors to adopt it.
From the OECD, via Quartz. I had to relieve Jeannie of the notion that this was a hazelnut spread, as peanut butter is to peanuts. I think the first three ingredients are palm oil.
We examine the impact of the Americanization of names on the labor market outcomes of migrants. We construct a novel longitudinal data set of naturalization records in which we track a complete sample of migrants who naturalize by 1930.
We find that migrants who Americanized their names experienced larger occupational upgrading. Some, such as those who changed to very popular American names like John or William, obtained gains in occupation-based earnings of at least 14%.
We show that these estimates are causal effects by using an index of linguistic complexity based on Scrabble points as an instrumental variable that predicts name Americanization. We conclude that the tradeoff between individual identity and labor market success was present since the early making of modern America.
Yes, you read that correctly. Scrabble points were used for causal identification. All the econometricians out there are jealous.
In my case, the Blattmänn’s were Swiss goldsmiths who emigrated to New York before dropping the umlaut and second “n” and heading to Canada. Maybe if they’d changed it to Smith this blog would making me money.
Meanwhile, with first names like Adam and Jacob, you’d forgive me if I’m skeptical of the family claim that the ancestral Blattmänns–central European goldsmiths in Brooklyn–were Catholic.
There are two positions. One is a part-time position in DC for a current economics PhD student (or equivalent). The other is to be my full-time research coordinator based at Columbia University in New York. It is ideal for recent BA and MA graduates, especially aspiring PhD students.
Both are heavy on statistical analysis. Both require you to have a work permit in the US. Apply at the links above and follow the instructions carefully. I do not get involved until the short list stage, so please don’t apply to me directly.
The NY-based research coordinator manages all my data and spends about 75% of his or her time on statistical analysis. See my works in progress for a sense of what you might work on. For this reason I’m looking for someone with strong training and ideally experience in statistics, and a veteran Stata user. The job can also involve field work at crucial and bust times in my field projects.
It would start in the spring and run up to two years. Depending on your experience, you would be hired in at the “Project Associate” or “Project Coordinator” level through Innovations for Poverty Action and receive a formal affiliation with (and desk at) Columbia, with me.
The position is excellent preparation for graduate work. Former RAs who applied to grad school have gone on to PhDs in political science, applied economics, economics, and psychology at Princeton, Berkeley, Davis, Harvard, MIT, Wisconsin, and Stanford. IPA will begin reviewing applications in January 2014.
The DC-based consultant will be doing statistical analysis on this Liberia urban street youth project and related work elsewhere in Uganda with me and Julian Jamison, a behavioral economist based at CFPB. Hear more about the project on NPR. Someone with an interest in empirical labor and behavioral economics is ideal, as you’ll mainly be comparing the measurement and predictive power of difference preference and cognitive skill measures.
Update: here are FAQs for working for J-PAL and IPA (we recruit together). They are having a live jobs chat Dec 13 at noon EST.
When the researchers analyzed all of the resulting data, it was clear, Karelis said, that sex qualified as “moderate exercise,” a 6-MET activity for men and 5.6-MET activity for women. That’s the equivalent, according to various estimates, of playing doubles tennis or walking uphill. The jogging, by comparison, was more strenuous, an 8.5-MET activity for the men in the study and 8.4 for women. (Though some men, according to their activity monitors, used more energy for brief periods during sex than they did jogging.) The sex also burned four calories per minute for men and three per minute for women, during sessions that ranged from 10 to 57 minutes, including foreplay. (The average was 25 minutes.) Men burned about 9 calories per minute jogging and women about 7.
- Where to send your charitable dollars? A new aid grading organization
- A very skillful ad stunt
- Sea is for cookie
- US State Dept is offering fellowships to “young African leaders” aged 25-35
- New rockets can make Mars voyage in 39 rather than 300 days
Surveying reaction to the passing of Nelson Mandela, Joshua Tucker ably states the view of many political and social scientists on the importance of leaders: they matter less than is commonly assumed. Compared to journalists, policymakers, historians, and citizens, political scientists attribute less importance to individual political figures and more to broader causes
Why do political scientists place less emphasis on the importance of individual leaders? One reason is that science means moving from studying specific phenomena to developing general explanations.
…But this way of viewing leaders should give us pause. As Henry Kissinger once mused, “As a professor, I tended to think of history as run by impersonal forces. But when you see it in practice, you see the difference personalities make.”
Stephen Dyson writing at the Monkey Cage.
I’d say leaders and personalities are grossly under-researched (quantitatively at least) in social science. A terrific exception is this paper by the Bens.
- You might recall my post, “Is the New Yorker publishing puff profiles of mercenaries?“. The former head of the mercenary organization in question responds on his blog, and I comment.
- Police kill someone in Iceland… for the first time ever
- Majestic gif of the day
- The Dear Santa letter, circa 2013
What you have is an increasing number of brilliant PhD graduates arriving every year into the market hoping to secure a permanent position as a professor and enjoying freedom and high salaries, a bit like the rank-and-file drug dealer hoping to become a drug lord.
To achieve that, they are ready to forgo the income and security that they could have in other areas of employment by accepting insecure working conditions in the hope of securing jobs that are not expanding at the same rate.
Because of the increasing inflow of potential outsiders ready to accept this kind of working conditions, this allows insiders to outsource a number of their tasks onto them, especially teaching, in a context where there are increasing pressures for research and publishing. The result is that the core is shrinking, the periphery is expanding, and the core is increasingly dependent on the periphery.
See full blog post by Alexandre Afonso.
A similar but less intelligent critique of the system in the New York Times last week.
Sounds to me like this is a market where students and science benefit, at the expense of PhD students. i.e. a well functioning market.
Easy for me to say, however, since (1) I’m in a field where my PhD offers outside jobs, and (2) I made it to the insider group (or, well, on the insider track, as I’m not tenured yet).
Even so, when I was a PhD student myself at Berkeley, and heard how just a third history PhDs get academic jobs (despite Berkeley arguably having the best program in the world), my first thought was not “this is unfair” but “what the hell are these PhD students doing?”
It’s a little hard to say the wool is pulled over their eyes when at the same time they are being trained to be critical and well-informed scientists of social systems. The Afonso post is not doing that (the NYT article is) and the former is worth reading.