Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action
- That is Abhijit Banerjee & Esther Duflo above, thanks to Neela Saldanha and Elizabeth Koshy for explaining that Abi Jit means “(He) just won” or “won now,” so it means “just won the Nobel.” And that the dairy cooperative Amul is known in India for their punny billboards (which you can also find on their twitter feed).
- On the Nobel sugar high, as a friend called it, a couple of nice interviews:
- The first time the three winners spoke since winning was on the Economist Money Talks podcast (Apple/iTunes). Also stay for the Nordic bank money laundering story.
- Michael Kremer on Bloomberg’s Stephonomics podcast (Apple/iTunes). Where he explains he thought the initial messages about talking urgently from a colleague were a phishing scam.
- Michael also credits all the people who work on these studies, and there have been some nice tributes to and from them for example here, and here, and the very nice parties with video connections from all the organizations devoted to doing this work in Nairobi and Busia. (James Vancel pointed out that this week in Nairobi may be the only place you can get invited to a joint marathon/Nobel party).
- Jason Kerwin, Laura Derksen, and a few others mentioned that they got into development econ (or similar academic fields) after going on student trips to low-income countries. Chris Udry had a similar story after being in the Peace Corps in Ghana, and Dean Karlan was heading to Wall Street before what was supposed to be summer in a microfinance org in Latin America turned into a year, then a career. One thing that Kremer’s pointed out in a few interviews (including the Bloomberg one above), was that his first RCT (showing textbooks weren’t helping kids) happened because he’d been a teacher in Kenya, he happened to be back visiting, and talking to a friend in education there. He also knew from his experience that Kenyan kids were being taught in English, which was often their third language.
- I’ve seen a few criticisms of the RCT world over time, but I think the one that resonates with me the most, highlighted by Kremer’s teaching example, is how much better our tests and solutions would be if the researchers had the opportunity to spend more time in the countries they study, or if more economists who are afforded the opportunities to do those kinds of studies came from the places being studied. I think there’s more being done on this front and hope to see the field expanding over the coming years.
- Which reminds me – applications are now open for The Mawazo Institute’s PhD Scholars Programme for African women studying STEM and Social Sciences. More on the program here.
- Registration is also open for the Sadie Collective conference, Feb 20th, encouraging black women to go into economics and related fields. All the reviews I’ve heard from last years’ were incredibly positive.
- A correction from last week, I’d quoted a statistic of Ethiopia as having the highest number of internally displaced people, nearly 3 million. Reader Pablo Abitbol pointed me to this UNHCR report, which reports Colombia has more than twice that amount, approaching 8 million people.
- I’d been eagerly awaiting the podcast from Mary Daly Zip Code Economies (Apple/iTunes) which (if I recall) had been announced right before she became President and CEO of the San Francisco Fed, and then was understandably delayed a long time so somehow I missed it when it was released in June.
Its premise is exploring the economies of 5 local zip codes and I don’t know what I was expecting but it was not this. I binged it & got about halfway through the season on the first day.
It’s very NOT central banker, much more documentary style about the everyday lives of people, with the goal of being uplifting. So far, I think she’s only mentioned data once, and that was to say that economists’ data isn’t everything, people’s lived experiences are important (according to the FAQ, a goal of the podcast is to connect the macro to micro. If you view through the econ lens you’ll understand the connection, but it’s deliberately jargon-free.). Anyway, kudos to Dr. Daly, the producers and the SF Fed for putting the effort into it. And for more on Mary Daly and her interesting career journey listen to her on Freakonomics (Apple/ITunes) or the St. Louis Fed Women in Economics podcast (Apple/iTunes).