Chris Blattman

IPA’s weekly links

180215 Providence, RI Census.
US Census
Photo via US Census Bureau

Guest post by Jeff Mosenkis of Innovations for Poverty Action

  • The Development Impact Blog has a very nice series of job market papers 
  • Is microcredit for the poor good, bad, or neither? Maybe good for some, but bad for others – if so how can we predict whom it’ll help and whom it’ll hurt to target it better? Tim Ogden’s going to be hosting a webinar next Friday Dec. 7th, with Lauren Falcao Bergquist, Cynthia Kinnan, Karthik Muralidharan and Bruce Wydick to hash it out. Make sure to register ahead of time at the link above.
  • Jobs: RA jobs at Northwestern with Lori Beaman and Andrew Dillon, and field coordinator for David McKenzie on irregular migration from The Gambia.
    • And what someone called “the coolest job in the world” a Ph.D.-level (or equivalent) position to use the whole network of IPA studies and research offices around the world to develop new and better methods in econ.
  • Scott Cunningham, of the causal inference mixtape and who studies sex work, and I had a discussion about why people take strong moral stances and how economists can engage them better.
    • While economists are pretty good at calculating costs and benefits, that’s not how many people reason, especially on moral areas (sex work, markets for organs). I cite some psych research there on how often people don’t even have access to their own moral reasoning systems, which often leads people to talk past each other. Here’s Stanford’s Robb Willer TED talk (I know, it’s still good though) on how to reason from someone’s else’s moral perspective.
    • This JEP article: “Market Reasoning as Moral Reasoning: Why Economists Should Re-engage with Political Philosophy” makes a similar point about why economists’ arguments might miss the mark and fail to engage with how most people reason. 
    • The Economist on how Cambridge traditionally taught economics as closer to political philosophy than statistics, so that economists would have the tools to engage with public debates.
    • [Side note: Scott has a 2-day workshop for data scientists, law, policy, and other data professionals on causal inference methods]
  • I’ve said for a while that it’s under-covered, but the fight over the census methodology (which amounts to who gets counted), has to be one of the under-covered stories of the year, because of the many, many policy decisions that are based on census data . Emily Bazelon explains it in the New York Times Magazine
    • For more current updates, and good explainers NPR’s Hansi Lo Wong is covering the court battle daily.
  • It’s “best of” season and Tyler Cowen is here with his favorite non-fiction books of the year.
  • Researchers Daniela Donno and Anne-Kathrin Kreft on how some authoritarian party regimes use gender balance in cabinets and government as a way to maintain control. (via Rachel Strohm, whose Africa Update newsletter is really great).