IPA’s weekly links

Guest Post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.


  • If you’re going to be traveling, or just want something to listen to, we’ve put together another IPA Great Holiday Travel Podcast Playlist of episodes we liked. It also includes a few brand new podcasts and a podcast discovery app that look promising.
  • Russia is following South Africa, Gambia and Burundi’s example and withdrawing from the International Criminal Court, and the Philippines is considering leaving as well. My (limited) understanding is that the U.S. hasn’t ratified it, so it’s not like we’re bound by it either.
  • Sweden’s top traffic safety expert explains their biggest barrier towards moving to zero traffic deaths isn’t engineering, it’s economists’ implicit assumptions:


    The largest resistance we got to the idea about Vision Zero was from those political economists that have built their whole career on cost-benefit analysis. For them it is very difficult to buy into “zero.” Because in their economic models, you have costs and benefits, and although they might not say it explicitly, the idea is that there is an optimum number of fatalities. A price that you have to pay for transport.


    • Jim Yong Kim expressed a similar sentiment (see the link in our podcast post above) about what it was like at Partners In Health in the early days of arguing for HIV drugs for Africans.
    • The idea that we accept traffic deaths as inevitable is not a coincidence. We call them airplane “crashes” and see them as unacceptable. But in the early 1900’s automobile manufacturers introduced a marketing campaign to rebrand auto collisions as “accidents,” which makes them seem inevitable:

      So a lot like the industrial safety people invented this cartoon character called Otto Know Better (ph), who was careless and getting injured, the pro-automobile people – manufacturers, auto clubs, auto dealers – invented caricatures of careless pedestrians because most of the people cars were killing then were pedestrians, not other people in cars.


  • The Weird Economics of Ikea
  • Investing in “soft skills” training, even in the high-turnover world of female garment workers in Banglauru, India, paid for itself several times over:

    Treated workers are less likely to leave during the program, and exhibit substantially higher productivity up to nine months after program completion. This leads to being assigned to more complex tasks and a greater likelihood of promotion. Treated workers are also more likely to enroll in workplace skill development and production incentive programs.

And the Golden Radiator Award nominees for best and worst development ads are up, you can vote for the finalists. Here was one of the good ones (also check out David Evans’ playlist of funny development commercials):

Happy Thanksgiving everybody.

Image above via Alex Graves on Flickr