IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • I’m going to pitch Netflix a superhero show based loosely on David Evans, whose superpower is the ability to summarize large numbers of papers in a very readable way, this week it’s 34 papers on education (incentives, teacher training, technology and more).
  • Giving scientists money to bet on which studies will replicate predicts the ones that will 71 percent of the time. The Social Science Replication Project is recruiting new researchers to gamble on replications of 21 experimental studies published in Nature and Science (deadline Oct 31).
  • Bentzen, Kaarsen, & Wingender paper, Irrigation and Autocracy:

“We find that countries whose agriculture depended on irrigation are about six points less democratic on the 21-point polity2 scale than countries where agriculture has been rainfed. We find qualitatively similar results across regions within countries. We argue that the effect has historical origins: irrigation allowed landed elites in arid areas to monopolize water and arable land. This made elites more powerful and better able to oppose democratization. Consistent with this conjecture, we show that irrigation dependence predicts land inequality both at the country level, and in premodern societies surveyed by ethnographers.”

Full paper in the Journal of the European Economic Association (ungated PDF here)

  • Bloomberg has a piece about the promise and difficulties of behavioral economics for designing financial products that promote savings for people in the cash economy. It’s a frank look at some of the challenges of a pilot from Jonathan Zinman of Dartmouth with Dean Karlan nudging Bronx check cashing customers to open savings accounts.
  • Price discrimination by algorithm from ProPublica. For SAT prep class pricing:

Consider the difference between two ZIP codes with similar incomes in Texas. In Houston’s ZIP code 77072, with a relatively large Asian population, the Princeton Review course was offered for $7,200. While in Dallas’ ZIP code 75203, with almost no Asians, the course was offered for $6,600. And in heavily Asian, low-income Queens ZIP code 11355, the course was offered for $8,400.

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