Chris Blattman

IPA’s weekly links

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Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.


  • Through Nov 20, an anonymous donor is doubling donations to my employer, Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA), who uses rigorous research to find effective poverty solutions. (Some examples here, and pictured above: some of our Burkina Faso research staff about to ride out in the rainy season).
  • Some would like to digitize payments and schedules for Nairobi Matatu private buses. The technology exists, but one barrier is the operators, who benefit from the unpredictable system, conducting their own informal “surge pricing” off the books.
  • Tyler Cowen’s conversation with cognitive scientist Steven Pinker was interesting. As was the one with Jon Haidt, who studies how moral reasoning drives political beliefs, and why people with different political leanings often don’t understand one another.
  • Dani Rodrik’s letter in support of Ricardo Hausmann. (h/t Vincent Armentano)
  • More than 800,000 drinking water filters were distributed in Kenya, supported by carbon credits sold for water that would supposedly not have to be boiled (you can buy some here). By coincidence a separate (IPA) RCT was going on in the same area, so they added on questions about the filter use, and found only 19% of people reported using them 2-3 years later. Summary in this press release, paper here.
  • India is changing its currency, asking people to trade in 23 billion notes in circulation. One stated goal is to eliminate the higher denominations to combat corruption and tax evasion. Kenneth Rogoff has made the same argument for the US:

    Well, I think that a lot of the money – these big bills – is used to facilitate tax evasion and crime. We all use cash in our everyday life, but we don’t use hundred-dollar bills. We’re not using 500-euro notes. And yet these account for mountains of cash out there. I think they’re being used in tax evasion and by criminals of all types.

  • Pam Jakiela’s great response to Deaton and Cartwright’s RCT critique.

And a reminder from Max Roser:

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