IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • Cash transfers have been all the rage but now that longer-term data is coming in, Berk Ozler suggests that one-time grants may not be a panacea.
  • A new AER article looking at longitudinal effects on children of a Native American tribe giving out cash from casino dividends, finds long-term effects in personality and psychological well-being for kids whose families got the cash.
  • But Jean Drèze explains why he’s cautious about the government of India moving from in-kind support for the poor to cash transfers based on what could go wrong in practice (setting an amount but not indexing to inflation, for example)
  • An amazing visualization by Mona Chalibi trying to get across the scope of the prison population, when numbers become too big to comprehend,
  • Stephanie Wykstra, a committed effective altruist (and full disclosure, a former co-worker of mine), has a nice essay about how she changed her thinking from the standard EA orthodoxy that charity is most effective when given in a poorer country after volunteering at Rikers Island. She saw how many people suffered long-term consequences because they were held for as little as one dollar of bail, and concluded there are also policy wins to be had for low cost at home as well.
    • [Update: There’s a network of volunteers in New York anybody can join who go in person and file the paperwork to bail out people being held for one dollar.]
  • The warden of North Dakota’s prisons decided to experiment after seeing Norway’s different approach.
  • Despite the attention, school shootings are apparently not more common in the U.S. than they were in the 1990s. It’s also worth remembering though schools have been at the center of recent debates around gun violence, far more people die from other kinds of shootings. To debias myself, I’ve been following this twitter account which reports local news stories of shootings, and have been surprised at how many start as everyday arguments that escalate until someone grabs a gun from their car and kills the other person.
  • The University of Manchester has Masters scholarships for professionals from Ghana, Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, or Zambia, who have not previously studied outside Africa.


6 thoughts on “IPA’s weekly links

  1. re Prison – bailing people out and running sensible prisons is all fine well and good. Reforming police behavoir as well.
    But given the rates of loss from theft, the amount of violence, etc., we ought to ask “how can we get people to change their behavoir so they don’t end up in jail in the first place?”
    Now, if they’re victims of various kinds of vendettas, that’s one thing.
    But how many are in jail for petty thefts? Public disorder usually meaning being drunk or otherwise intoxicated and making trouble? Dealing drugs?

    It’s fine to suggest we shouldn’t jail/imprison such people, but wouldn’t it be better to ask how to influence their lives so they don’t get sucked into these traps? (And don’t burden the rest of us with thefts, minor assaults, public fights, and so forth?)