Chris Blattman

IPA’s weekly links


Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.


  • Last weekend I had an op-ed with Annie Duflo about 2016, citing Max Roser’s observations that for humanity as a whole, things have been getting better than better, and describing new results from the past year of poverty research. But Roser himself also had a very thoughtful piece about why people always think the world is getting worse, locally and globally. His observations:
    • Bad things (crime, disasters) happen suddenly, while good things (reductions in poverty, disease) play out over years or decades, which media is not structured well to cover.
    • Our own demand-side effects on the media. Our brains’ evolved negativity bias leaves us as attuned to dangerous/alarming things. (“Almost Everybody in America Made it Home Safely Tonight” is a headline nobody would click on.)
    • Education-wise, global trends fall in between history and statistics so don’t get taught.
  • Evidence Action, which tries to see if evidence-proven ideas can scale, is looking for researchers with ideas that have been RCT tested and are ready for (careful) broader scaling. Learn more & submit your ideas to them here (Deadline Feb 3).
  • Some reminders for those freezing at the Chicago ASSA conference, particularly job candidates:
  • A paper and gift from Fiona Burlig:

    We’ve got new methods (and software) for choosing sample sizes in panel data settings that properly account for arbitrary within-unit serial correlation, and yield properly powered experiments in simulated and real data.

  • If you have a lot of time on your hands, like are nearing retirement, you may enjoy David Roodman’s deep dive into deworming findings, and why different analyses of the existing data can come to different conclusions. Part one and part two.
  • FYI, so far in 2017 President Obama has articles in the Harvard Law Review and New England Journal of Medicine (not even his first there). So there go your excuses for not getting that write-up finished.


2 Responses

  1. This stat on extreme poverty is rather misleading. First, there are large uncertainties in the PPPs used to convert to local currencies and base years. Second, the idea that 1.25 (now 1.90) somehow reflects a shift point between extreme poverty and not is incorrect. It would be a massive mistake to think that extreme poverty will just in a few years time be a problem of the past.

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