IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.


  • On Wednesday the Nigerian women’s bobsled team became the country’s first team to qualify for the winter Olympics, and will be the first African team to compete in the Olympic bobsled event.
  • Experts are arguing about what to call what’s going on in Zimbabwe – whether there’s a waiting period before declaring a coup (the African Union frowns on coups apparently), a bloodless coup, or maybe “protective coup” (where the leader is kept safe). Given the importance of the first lady to understanding the political situation, I would have gone with “coup de Grace.” (But follow Kim Yi Dionne & Naunihal Singh for actual information.)
  • It’s job season: J-PAL, IPA and our friends post on a single portal here.
    • J-PAL’s Claire Walsh talks to the 80,000 Hours podcast (focusing on meaningful careers) about her job working to help governments use evidence in making policy.
    • One of the lowest-profile but highest-impact jobs in all of development is working with Caitlin Tulloch and colleagues at the IRC calculating cost effectiveness of different programs around the world. (Here’s a podcast of her explaining what her group does and why it’s crucial).
  • I swear I’m not making this up. Need a way to confidentially track and re-identify people in your data? One group of sexual health researchers used participants’ “porn star names” (name of first pet and street they grew up on):

    Porn star names were unique to 99% of their 1281 respondents to the baseline survey, and adding month/year of birth was enough to provide 100% uniqueness. When re-contacted later, they were able to match 76% of respondents between the two surveys using only the porn star name, and using month/year of birth they could further match 96% of those who provided a partially-consistent porn star name. (h/t Lee Crawfurd, who else)

  • 3-month visiting program in Germany for post-doc researchers from sub-Saharan Africa. (via Macartan Humphreys)
  • Harvard Ph.D. candidate Heather Sarsons previously found female academics suffered a “co-authorship penalty,” with co-authored papers helping their careers less, compared to their male counterparts. Now Sarsons is making a big splash with her job market paper on surgeons. Practices of medical specialists are dependent on other doctors, often primary care physicians, referring their patients to them. Sarsons finds that when female surgeons have a negative outcome (a patient dying), they’re punished, in the form of fewer referrals, more than men. The referring physicians are also less likely to refer their patients to other women in the same specialty.

    I find that men would have to receive patients who are 70 percentage points riskier on unobservables for risk to explain the gender difference in a PCP’s reaction.

  • The much-loved Princeton economist Uwe Reinhardt died this week. He was acclaimed for his ability to cut through complexity when it came to understanding and explaining the healthcare system with humor and for his general menchiness. Those qualities come out in his other writing as well. For meaningfulness, read his thoughts from 2003 on what it was like as a child growing up in WWII Germany, and for humor, his lecture on understanding Korean TV dramas.