Chris Blattman

IPA’s weekly links

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Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

  • Alicia Munnell, a Harvard-trained economist who studies retirement policy, worked for the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury and served on the president’s Council of Economic Advisors realized she hadn’t saved sufficiently for retirement. Harvard behavioral economist Sendhil Mullainathan recently confessed to similar economic sins. (h/t Jason Zweig)
  • Somebody put a compendium of Trump speech text content on GitHub for your analysis pleasure.
  • Gosnell, List, & Metcalfe experimented on 335 pilots of 40,000 Virgin Atlantic flights and saved a lot of fuel and pollution by encouraging them to adopt more efficient practices. Experimental treatments included providing feedback on their fuel efficiency, setting personalized targets with “Well Done” messages for achieving them, and having money donated to charity for achieving the goals:

We estimate that our treatments saved between 266,000-704,000 kg of fuel for the airline over the eight-month experimental period. These savings led to between 838,000-2.22 million kg of CO2 abated at a marginal abatement cost of negative $250 per ton of CO2 (i.e. a $250 savings per ton abated) over the eight-month experimental period.


Which is great, but if I’m reading it right, just the Hawthorne effect of the pilots knowing they were being observed was much stronger, saving 6.8 million kg of fuel ($5.3 million) over the eight-month study period. (h/t Alexander Berger)

  • Summaries of 18 papers on improving education systems from the RISE conference.
  • A new report questions the Broken Windows theory of policing, the idea that cracking down on minor crimes (like graffiti and littering), also reduces major crime. The idea started with speculation by two sociologists in a 1982 Atlantic article. Supported by a probably spurious correlation (many things got better in the 90s), and popularized in Gladwell’s The Tipping Point and elsewhere, it became pop-sociology, then eventually police policy. The New York Police Department Inspector General report (PDF) concludes that while the 2010-2015 NYPD crackdown on these types of crimes led to many more arrests in minority neighborhoods with no impact on major crime.
  • On a related note, J-PAL North America announced they will be working with five U.S. state and city governments to actually test policies before implementing them.

And if you want to give a TED Talk here’s how to be a thought leader (h/t Lindsey Shaughnessy).

22 Responses

  1. You link to a Donald Trump word cloud, but no Hillary Clinton?
    The woman whose support of bombing Qaddafi helped turn Libya from an intolerant closed hell hole to a hell hole openly recruiting anti-American jihadists? The woman whose incompetent security responses led to an American Ambassador being killed, followed by her public LIES about the causes of the terrorist attack, as well as putting a video maker in jail for 6 months? A woman who flagrantly and illegally disregarded gov’t rules on email security, and from whose illegal private server the Chinese and Russian spies very likely have copies of all data?
    Hmm, and your development advice includes support for “rule of law”?

    You should be ashamed of supporting a candidate like Clinton.
    Nowhere do you hear be say Trump is great — but Clinton is historically terrible by her record of failure and law violations. If that’s not enough to stop you from supporting her, how bad would she have to be?
    (of course, I’m here because I think most of your blog is great!)

  2. Alicia Munell did not save enpugh for retirement, but then she discovered she owned a large house in a fancy Boston neighborhood – how lucky, no?

  3. Reminds of of this video about “how to sound smart during your Ted Talk”:

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