Syndicate content

Friday links: Marshmallows, getting started in a development career, toilets and schooling, and more...

David McKenzie's picture

·         In Nature, the push-back from scientists against Galor and Ashraf’s forthcoming AER paper on the impact of genetic diversity on per-capita incomes.

·         On the IPA blog, David Yanagizawa-Drott discusses his work on trying to remove fake drugs from markets through competition.

·         On the Development Policy blog, a young person’s guide to getting started in a career in development. It is written for Australians, but the general advice is pretty applicable to many other countries.

·         Interview with Dean Karlan on discusses insights from behavioral economics, and when NGOs should do evaluation.

·         From Poverty to Power discusses Oxfam’s efforts to evaluate a random sample of its portfolio using “relatively rigorous methods by NGO standards”. This seems to consist in many cases of a single round survey after the intervention and propensity-score matching and multivariate regression.

·         From Science blog - New evidence on the classic marshmallow experiment-  Children who experienced reliable interactions immediately before the marshmallow task waited on average four times longer—12 versus three minutes—than youngsters in similar but unreliable situations. N=28 pre-school kids – basic point is if the kids don’t trust the second marshmallow will appear, they have no reason to wait - so rather than measuring self-control, the experiment might just measure how stable your environment is.

·         Most awesome systematic review summary ever: “The primary aim of this systematic review was to identify and synthesize evidence of the impact of separate toilets for girls on their enrolment and attendance in schools. The authors did not identify any studies that were designed to assess the impact of separate-sex toilets. Thus, with an absence of studies in this area, there is evidence neither for nor against the impact of separate toilets for girls on their educational outcomes.”


It was good to read the article by Debbie Hillier which emphasised the need to include Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) within development strategies, with special reference to the inclusion of females as a vital component of that process. Here in Kenya, where climate change is already having a serious impact, we see DRR as critical to sustainable development, and within that, our focus has been towards children - both girls and boys - as the most vulnerable in many disaster situations. Working with children in child-friendly ways, we help them to acquire the knowledge and skills, so that they can participate in a meaningful way, and indeed become an important part of the solution to community concerns. Children and their schools become catalysts for positive action by parents and their communities; and small but important ideas have much wider effects and implications. For example, in many schools, children have demonstrated that recycling materials (paper, sawdust, cow dung, etc.) to make fuel briquettes, can replace the need for charcoal; this not only means a decrease in the daily living cost for families, but in the longer term, could reduce deforestation and its knock-on effects of soil erosion, floods and famine. In this way children become 'changemakers' who motivate DRR actions within their communities.