Published on Development Impact

Weekly links December 5: how to do research, corruption at borders, work for me, and more…

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  • From the Chronicle of Higher Education - How sociologists made themselves irrelevant -  “sociologists have become distant spectators rather than shapers of policy. In the effort to keep ourselves academically pure, we’ve also become largely irrelevant in molding the most important social enterprises of our era”. Also it ends with two smell tests that are relevant to development economists too “If you end up with findings that have policy implications that you would never dream of advocating for yourself or your loved ones, be wary of them.”
  • Andrew Gelman reads the Dercon et al aspirations paper – interesting blog post for thinking about how to make sure your key results get across quickly to a reader.
  • Marc Bellemare on why he doesn’t like “determinants” papers “authors of “determinants” papers typically regress some outcome of interest (e.g., whether one works or not) on a number of covariates (e.g., age, gender, education, race, etc.), look at what’s significant, and then they make up stories about why those covariates that are significant have specific signs.”
  • From the IGC blog, Sandra Sequeira on how corruption at border posts hinders trade – based on looking at firms in Northeastern South Africa with a choice between using two ports with very different levels of corruption: Maputo in Mozambique or Durban in South Africa.
  • In the Royal Economic Society newsletter, Angus Deaton discusses the political sensitivities and complexities of trying to move towards accounting for regional price differences in the US.
  • From the 3ie blog, a round-up on results from RCTs intended to increase male circumcisions to prevent HIV .
  • Out now: the new World Development Report on behavioral economics “mind, society, and behavior”.
  • I’m looking for a research assistant to start early next year. I am looking for someone to work on several projects, including help with a couple of ongoing RCTs on firm growth, work getting some existing datasets cleaned up and out in the public domain, and a new project on the teaching of development economics. The position will be based in Washington DC, with possible occasional travel. Here’s what I’m looking for:
    • strong Stata skills
    • language skills in one of French, Spanish, or Arabic a plus, but not mandatory
    • an understanding of evaluation methods
    • You are one of the top students in your university
I am somewhat flexible as to exact starting date (sometime between now and March say), and length of employment. One possibility would be for someone who has just finished a strong undergraduate or masters program, and is planning on starting an economics PhD in September/October.Another could be if you are a PhD student who wants to do 20 hours per week now and more over the summer. It could continue until at least the end of 2015 if there is mutual interest. Email me (dmckenzie at if you are interested, along with a cover letter and CV. I will only reply if I want to shortlist you.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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