Chris Blattman

IPA’s weekly links

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.



  • David Evans has two good posts, an intro to eval for NGOs “Is My NGO Having a Positive Impact”  & one explaining that zero effect might be hiding more than you think.
  • Pacific Standard Magazine looks at what really happened to woolly mammoths, and not just them:

    There were mastodons, six-foot tall beavers, ground sloths the size of black bears, armadillos bigger than Volkswagen Beetles, American lions and cheetahs and camels, and saber-toothed tigers—to name just a few. Between 10,000 and 13,000 years ago, the Americas alone—once a zoo filled with enough wonders to put a modern African safari to shame—lost over 70 genera of large mammals.

The prevailing opinion used to be that climate change killed them, but that is giving way to an economic explanation, the tragedy (or problem) of the commons. When these potential sources of wealth aren’t owned, everybody has an incentive to hunt them and nobody to preserve them. Elephants hunted for ivory today face the same problem and the article discusses solutions from economics.

  • Alexandra Elbakyan, a researcher from Kazakhstan, is making millions of academic papers available free.
  • A Cambridge Ph.D. student in Egypt studying labor and unions was abducted and killed.
  • Yale Ph.D. student William Schpero created a STATA module to notify your phone when your code is done running.
  • Not development related, but two really good podcasts to broaden your horizons:
    • Gimlet’s Sampler podcast searches out really compelling excerpts from other interesting podcasts, so far it’s been very good.
    • One episode of the Reply All podcast, excerpted by Radiolab, is the incredibly compelling story of a programmer whose son had cancer and turned the experience into a videogame.
  • UChicago’s summer institute on field experiments is accepting applications from young researchers.

And, the (still hypothetical) Equipay app lets you fix the wage gap by splitting the restaurant bill fairly. (h/t Planet Money)

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