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Weekly links Jan 19: soft skills and maybe a robot can’t take your job after all, the Starbucks indicator of Indian middle class growth, high fees are deterring citizenship, and more...

David McKenzie's picture
  • On VoxEU, using Yelp data to track the local economy.
  • Ted Miguel on plans for long-term follow-ups of child health and cash transfer programs.
  • Priced out of citizenship? From Stanford News, with the cost of U.S. naturalization now $725, an experiment gave vouchers to cover these costs to low-income immigrants in NYC and found naturalization application rates rose 41%.
  • David Deming in the NBER reporter on the value of soft skills in the labor market: “the very term soft skills reveals our lack of understanding of what these skills are, how to measure them, and whether and how they can be developed... Social interaction is perhaps the most necessary workplace task for which there is currently no good machine substitute... Researchers ought to stop relying on convenient, off-the-shelf measures of soft skills and start creating metrics that are theoretically sound and suitable for the task at hand”
  • John Van Reenen in VoxDev on management and the wealth of nations: “management accounted for about 30% of the unexplained TFP differentials driving the large differences in the wealth of nations.”
  • The Economist on India’s Missing Middle Class “Despite two decades of investment McDonald’s has hardly any more joints in India than in Poland or Taiwan... Starbucks says it has big plans for India but has opened about one new coffee shop a month over the past two years, bringing its total to around 100—on a par with Utah... A new Starbucks opens in China every 15 hours... The latest iPhone, which costs $1,400 in India, represents five month’s pay for an Indian who just makes it into the top 10% of earners. And such consumers are not making up through growing numbers what they lack in individual spending power”
  • Related to my post last week on the funnel of attribution, Howard White shared related work he has written on the “funnel of attrition” in a causal chain, including in this blog post and recent ADB impact evaluation guide – the main difference in my post being the emphasis on the implications for sample size, power, and analysis.

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