IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.


Video screenshot, actual video below

  • EconTalk had George Borjas, who’s known for being a contrarian on immigration research. The interview didn’t really get into the stuff that many disagree with, but was really more about his perspective. He argues that:
    • Not all immigrants are the same, they arrive with different skills, so you should expect to see effects in particular subsections of the labor market. Some might see that as a justification for cherry picking/subgroup analysis. But he explains that this observation comes from his own experience as a Cuban immigrant, and in grad school knowing better than the professors that different waves of Cubans came to the U.S. fleeing different circumstances, and from different classes and backgrounds.
    • He suggests* that a 25% increase in labor supply at the low end corresponds with about a 5% reduction in wages for workers in that group. Most people focus on the big net societal benefits, so policies ignore the small group who are experiencing the negative impact. He thinks policymakers ignore those hurt by immigration their own political peril.
  • David Evans has a great blog post just waiting for a Vox or education reporter to pick up. He reviews several studies, and wherever you go in the world, parents think their kids are doing better in school than they are. Simply letting parents know when their kids are missing school or an assignment, or falling behind, is very cheap and has huge impacts on student achievement.
  • Dupas, Huillery, & Seban have good and even better news from Cameroon [PDF]. They tested several classroom-based safer sex/HIV prevention interventions and found large impacts in rural (though not urban) areas. All four interventions worked showing 25-48% reductions in childbearing 9-12 months later. Even a one-hour self-administered questionnaire worked as well as in-class sessions led by consultants.
  • Call for case studies on collecting sensitive data (particularly through digital means), to help develop new USAID guidelines on how to do such things. Submit descriptions of how you’ve collected such data by Feb 15. (h/t Alexis Ditkowsky)
  • The administration is reportedly preparing to roll back the financial adviser “fiduciary” rule requiring that advisers act in their clients’ best interest rather than their own. This comes in when steering clients towards investments that the adviser potentially has a stake in (I’ve seen this personally, it’s pernicious and very hard to get a straight answer). When the rule was being debated almost exactly a year ago, the University of Chicago’s Harold Pollack made a commercial to explain it:

[*] I’m not taking a position on Borja’s findings, but there’s a lively discussion in EconTalk comments