Published on Let's Talk Development

Friday Roundup: Of drug resistant malaria, child labor in Brazil, microinsurance via mobile phones, and risky business

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Kathleen McLaughlin writes in The Guardian about a new wave of drug-resistant malaria that may be spreading from Southeast Asia to other parts of the developing world, saying it threatens millions.

'Child Labor and Learning' is the title of a new working paper Patrick Emerson, Vladimir Ponczek and Andre Portela Souza. They use a unique micro panel dataset of Brazilian students to investigate the impact of working while in school on learning outcomes. The potential endogeneity is addressed through the use of difference-in-difference and instrumental variable estimators. A negative effect of working on learning outcomes in math and Portuguese is found. The effects of child work range from 3 to 8 percent of a standard deviation decline in test score, which represents a loss of about a quarter to a half of a year of learning on average.

The Atlantic has a piece by Betsy Teutsch about a new trend that may be a boon to poor Africans -- cell phone minutes that come with insurance. On a contient where mobile usage is exploding, many people own phones and buy minutes as they go. To stay competitive (and do social good at the same time), some carriers are partnering with microinsurance providers to offer insurance policies when customers meet a minimum amount topping off their prepaid cards. Such insurance payouts can allow poor families to pay for a health crisis or a funeral.

The Economist's Prospero blog carries a Q & A with Gerd Gigerenzer on his new book, 'Risky business: How to Make Good Decisions'. Gigerenzer, who directs the Centre for Adaptive Behaviour and Cognition at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development in Berlin, makes the case that risk savvy-ness is vital and he thinks we need to protect ourselves from manipulation by politicians, doctors, financial advisers and others (perhaps including 'nudge' afficionados) who seem to assume they know what's best for us.

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