Published on Development Impact

Weekly links August 4: GVCs, reducing greenhouse gases, re-training older workers, lessons from DIME and the Birken bag, and more…

This page in:

·       The latest issue of the Journal of Economic Perspectives has a paper by Laura Boudreau, Julia Cajal-Grossi and Rocco Macchiavello on Global Value Chains in developing countries, focusing on the garment and coffee industries, and the role of relational contracting to overcome frictions: “We argue that understanding market power and relationships—and how they relate to each other and at the different stages of the chain—is necessary to foster equitable and sustainable participation of developing countries in global value chains”….” Our conversations with stakeholders in both industries suggest that quality is in general observable, in the sense that buyers can observe it after seeing it, but not contractible, in the sense that it would be difficult for a court to adjudicate a contractual dispute over quality in a cost-effective manner”

·       Also in the JEP, Rachel Glennerster and Seema Jayachandran outline opportunities to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions in low and middle income countries: “we will argue that many of the most cost-effective opportunities for mitigation—that is, reduction in atmospheric CO2 levels—are likely to be in lowand middle-income countries. The implication of this reasoning is that high-income countries, as well as multilateral agencies and philanthropists, could and should be tapping opportunities in low- and middle-income countries to achieve more mitigation for a given level of spending”. They argue that the easiest and cheapest options are more likely to have already been done in developed countries (e.g. reducing the share of electricity generated from coal); land and labor inputs needed are cheaper in developing countries (e.g. for tree-planting); and that it can be cheaper to build new infrastructure more greenly than retrofit old infrastructure (e.g. systems for cooling buildings).

·       Ever wondered what DIME does, or how impact evaluation can be used in big projects like roads? VoxDevTalks interviews Arianna Legovini about the beginnings of DIME, how it has evolved, what some of the success stories she points to are, and why researchers are still needed when impact evaluation gets mainstreamed.

·       More for your summer listening: Planet Money is doing its annual summer school on episodes relating to the MBA curricula – so far with episodes on founding a business, competition and strategy, accounting, and marketing. A fun way of packaging snippets of old episodes together with a discussion of the concept with a professor, and plenty of quirky products to marvel or despair at their existence or demise – including the Birken bag. I’ve got a great new research paper about this, but it will cost you $60,000 to see it, and there is a 3-year waiting list.

·       Stata command I can’t believe I only discovered this week: grc1leg is a user-written command that allows you to combine multiple graphs together and use a single common legend. I had been doing a kludge using the graph editor, but this is much easier. To get this, type net install grc1leg,from(

·       On the Nasikiliza blog, Adiam Hailemicheal, Sreelakshmi Papineni and Toni Weis discuss business training for couples in Ethiopia, that is currently part of an ongoing impact evaluation. “To encourage a more supportive attitude, the training gets the partners talking: activities include supportive listening exercises, co-creating a vision statement, and developing a time wheel that visualizes how much time the two spend on different daily activities…The couples-based curriculum therefore includes activities that build confidence and problem-solving strategies alongside traditional modules such as accounting, marketing, and business planning”

·       David Deming discusses the evidence on whether older workers can be successfully retrained – he summarizes a study in Denmark that looks at what happens when the government invests in rehabilitation and training for workers who get injured on the job, and how this depends on whether they are in fields with “stackable” vocational programs that can build to a bachelors degree, and draws three main lessons: 1) “short-term vocational programs are generally not very appealing, and very few injured workers in Denmark took them up despite generous benefits. Jobs obtainable through short-run training are typically worse than the jobs that injured or displaced workers held previously, in which they have often accumulated specific expertise.”; 2) “we should train vertically rather than horizontally. The injured workers in Denmark were able to keep some of their expertise. They transitioned from physically demanding jobs to cognitively demanding jobs, but in the same general field. This seems more promising than expecting coal miners to learn to code”; and 3) “t’s never too late to go back to school. Education and training really can work, even for older people. But you must give them the time and space to truly reskill. In the U.S. we do it on the cheap”  


Development Impact is now on summer break, and will resume after Labor Day.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000