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Weekly links March 31: inequality across firms and within households, measuring farm labor, should we fund research by lottery, and more…

David McKenzie's picture
  • In the Harvard Business Review, Nick Bloom discusses how a lot of inequality is getting driven by differences between firms: “companies are paying more to get more: boosting salaries to recruit top talent or to add workers with sought-after skills. The result is that highly skilled and well-educated workers flock to companies that can afford to offer generous salaries, benefits, and perks — and further fuel their companies’ momentum. Employees in less-successful companies continue to be poorly paid and their companies fall further behind”
  • Vox EU piece by Brown, van de Walle and Ravallion summarizing their work in two recent papers on the difficulties in targeting the poor “about three-quarters of underweight women and undernourished children are not found in the poorest 20% of households. This is consistent with evidence of considerable intra-household inequality”
  • IZA GLM policy brief on measuring farm labor: “Traditional recall-style modules overestimate hours worked per person per plot by a factor of 3.4. This recall bias is driven by the mental burdens of reporting on highly variable agricultural work patterns”
  • Should grant funding just be decided by lottery after screening out the bottom? Shahar Avin makes the case at the LSE Impact blog. And think of all the research on grant effectiveness that can then be done!
  • Nice debate this week between Lant Pritchett on the CGD blog who argues based on his professional experience that “Never, ever, ever has “chickens versus cash” arisen as an issue at all, much less as the remotely possible “best investment” in research” and Chris Blattman who issues a counter-challenge back to growth theorists “Lant’s right and he’s wrong. We have to focus on the big picture and growth as a society, but I think there’s a strong argument for directly tackling the worst poverty now. Especially because we know how to do that pretty well. And we could do it even better pretty easily. More so than figuring out the secret to growth. I have a hard time imagining the $15 million research project that would affect country growth rates one bit.”
  • Call for papers: the 2017 PEGNET conference centers around understanding national inequalities and how to address them.