IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.


  • Two new user-friendly briefs from my colleagues at IPA’s Financial Inclusion Program:
    • A common assumption is that a solution to many people’s financial problems (debt, undersaving, etc) is better financial education. U.S. financial firms alone spent $670 million/yr on financial education (much more if you include the governments and NGOs around the world offering it). But there’s pretty strong evidence that it almost never works. They offer 5 promising ideas for how to make it better – it’s fastest to just show the picture:FinEdAdvice
    • Another brief summarizes how to use three nudges that do work for financial health: commitments, defaults, and reminders.
  • A Norwegian news site is making readers answer questions to prove they read the story before commenting. (If twitter starts doing that with NBER abstracts/papers I’m in trouble).
  • Justin Sandefur says we don’t really know how badly students in many poor countries are doing in school because most of those kids aren’t represented on the big international standardized tests. As he says, “What gets measured gets managed, and for now, learning isn’t.”
    • His attempt to statistically link different math tests given in different countries suggests average math scores in lowest performing countries are well below the 5th percentile of the top performing countries. Paper here, sad picture via David Evans.
  • Nigeria’s The Guardian isn’t too subtle in their story that for the second year in a row the Mo Ibrahim Foundation failed to find a head of state to whom they could award their excellence in African leadership prize.
  • A psychology journal editor was asked to step down for refusing to accept any more papers for which the authors won’t share the data or explain why they can’t (he’s not).
  • Two economists found some new data on WWII German pilots, and looked at what public recognition of top pilots did for their fellow pilots. When a colleague was publicly recognized for their achievements, it boosted performance of their high performing fellow pilots, but led average ones to start taking more risks and get killed much more often. Keep that in mind when your co-worker gets promoted.