IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • Markus Goldstein reports on a study from India which finds that paying respondents for their time participating might change their responses.
  • There’s a bipartisan bill to create a new U.S. overseas development finance agency. It would combine several private sector-focused functions that currently exist across different agencies, offer higher spending caps, and would be allowed to make equity investments.
  • There’s a long and disturbing story about longstanding sexual harassment in Harvard’s government department. It will sadly come as no surprise that the university didn’t do enough to stop it, even when alerted to it. But what’s been interesting is to see the reactions to it, summarized by Kate Cronin-Furman:

  • It seems like whisper networks and rumors are the only meager source of information within departments, leaving the victims to deal with it alone, and male faculty remain oblivious to colleagues’ bad behavior. It’s sad to think how many great minds have been discouraged from going into a field or had their careers actively derailed by this kind of self-reinforcing obliviousness. But it seems like one simple way to combat this would be a pledge like Owen Barder’s against participating in all-male panels. Male (and all, but absolutely male) faculty can take a public pledge to not tolerate abusive behavior in their department, and to support those who come to them wth reports of private behavior, and also take it these reports into account in promotion decisions. Then print it out and stick it on their doors (and obviously stand by it). Men (and all faculty) making clear that they’ll be supportive seems like a free no-brainer starting point to fight a norm of collective ignorance that allows this kind of behavior to continue.
  • For students: a weird implicit thing to be aware of – if you’re passing open faculty doors and interrupting someone’s work to ask for a stapler (à la Stanford’s Pascaline Dupas), or directions to the bathroom (à la LSE’s Oriana Bandiera), don’t make it disproportionately female faculty.
  • Tanzania is slowly becoming more authoritarian, with killings and other shootings by police, and opposition MPs being jailed for insulting the President. (via Justin Sandefur)
  • The classic example of a financial bubble is the Dutch tulip craze of the 1630’s. Historian Anne Goldgar writes that our current understanding is probably wrong. While they did become a luxury commodity, when she went back to examine records of actual prices, she found extremely high prices were rare, and most of what is reported today comes from satirical writing of the time.

When Bill Gates did a Reddit “Ask Me Anything” this week on the occasion of the new Gates Foundation Letter, it may have set a record for tech support escalation.