Published on Development Impact

Weekly links December 18: code cleaning, Angus on aid, how to spend for the holidays, and more…

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·       Oxford’s Coders’ Corner has advice on Stata data cleaning routines for string variables – just the thing for when you receive data with entries like “BURKINA FASO” “Burkina Faso” “BURKINA/FASO” and “   Burkina     Faso    “ all as responses.

·       Rationally speaking (that’s the name of the podcast) interview in which Angus Deaton uses Borat to argue to Julia Galef that “giving aid to other countries from outside is almost always a mistake” including both aid to governments and aid to individuals. And his nihilist view of the value of replication “AD: replication tells you nothing…JG: So even if you did a thousand RCTs, in tons of different countries, and every time you found that cash transfers increased people's consumption and made them happier -- you would claim that you haven't learned anything? Because you can never be sure that in the “thousand and oneth” case that you wouldn’t find a negative effect? AD: That's right. That's right…  I think those are RCTs on cash transfers are really silly.”  Berk offered his thoughts on twitter. I’ll just re-up my recent short paper in World Development on “If it needs a power calculation, does it matter for poverty reduction?”.

·       With the holidays approaching, Katy Milkman has a Q&A with Mike Norton on the evidence for how spending on others makes us happier than spending on ourselves

·       Search frictions and performance on e-commerce platforms – at VoxEU, Jie Bai and co-authors summarize their work on how difficult it is for new sellers to succeed selling online, and how search frictions can prevent the highest quality or lowest price firms from necessarily dominating.

·       At VoxDev, Felipe Barrera-Osorio and co-authors report on an at scale attempt to improve parental involvement in schools in Mexico – and how giving grants to parent associations not only did not improve learning, but in fact worsened trust between teachers and parents.

·       Michael Rose on the Devpolicy blog reviews the book “A good provider is one who leaves”. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in how migration affects families. It uses the experiences of one Filipino family to look at the many different ways the hope, promise, and lived experience of migration affects many aspects of a person’s life. A really candid and brave sharing of experiences.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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