Chris Blattman

IPA’s weekly links


Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action.

Halloween and statistical water spills
At IPA even our water spills our normally distributed (or Halloween-themed, depending on your perspective)
  • David McKenzie has updated an amazing list of all of the Development Impact Blog’s methodology posts, categorized by topic.
  • A reminder for the academic interview fly-out season that I’ve seen a few people mention: don’t assume grad students can afford to put travel on their credit cards and wait to be reimbursed; offer to book the travel for them (managers, same for employees).
  • In an interview with Paul Romer on government’s role in innovation, he also advocates for economists staying out of political debates (he thinks Brexit was partially a reaction to people not liking economists telling them what to do). He thinks economists should stick with calculating pros and cons of different options, and leaving the debates to politicians (I didn’t know his father was governor of Colorado). Stay for the bit at the end about Berkeley faculty.
  • Chris Barrett & John Hoddinott review the state of development economics as seen through submissions to the NEUDC conference (being held at Cornell starting tomorrow): Overall they were struck by the high quality of the papers, most papers were empirical, rather than theoretical, though wth fewer with RCTs than they expected. There were few macroeconomics topics, with little on trade. And in geographic areas of interest, Latin America, the Caribbean, North Africa, the Middle East, and Oceania were underrepresented with most of the research being done in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.
  • After major sexual misconduct scandals and cover-ups came to light at Save the Children and Oxfam, DFID held a summit on stopping abuse in the aid sector, but not all think their plan to work with Interpol and set up a database of offenders gets at the heart of the problem.  And the night before the conference it was announced that Save the Children had been chosen to work on the the database project, to many people’s chagrin. @AidWorkerJesus probably had the best criticism:
  • Much has been made of applying behavioral theories to public policy and integrating so-called nudge units into government, but a new survey found of the 111 identified OECD government policy nudges, a good chunk weren’t behavioral, at least half did not work as intended, and only 18 percent were put into practice.
  • Some encouragement when life has you down: Johns Hopkins molecular biologist Carol Greider describes with good humor, how in 2009, a grant committee met and deemed her application not worthy of discussion, even though she had won the Nobel Prize two hours earlier.