Published on Development Impact

Weekly links February 16: >7,000 RCTs, better bar graphs, dating apps and platform decay, choosing export sectors, and more…

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·       On the JPAL blog, Stuti Goyal and Jack Cavanagh provide some statistics and reflections on the AEA RCT registry turning 10. There are now over 7,400 registrations from approximately 7,700 PIs! In 2023, registered trials represented 94 distinct countries with researchers from ninety countries – although most PIs are still in North America and Europe. There are starting to be more lab and survey experiments registered, but most are still field experiments.

·       On Medium, John Kane has a two part guide (part 1, part 2) on advanced bar graphs in Stata. Part 1 provides lots of examples using cibar and coefplot of plotting confidence intervals and using lots of different labelling options, part 2 on showing bivariate relationships and the catplot command.

·       Webcasts and slides from Emily Breza and Supreet Kaur’s AEA continuing education sessions on development economics: 9 lectures on recent research on consumption smoothing, mobile money, credit, cash transfers, psychology, health, education, poverty traps, labor markets, and networks.

·       In the Stanford Social Innovation Review, Jason Wendle makes the case for social entrepreneurs to do more on international migration, and gives examples of a range of areas where he sees scope for this effort, as well as examples of organizations working in this space.

·       Love this quote from Dani Rodrik in the FT about objective creep and the dangers of trying to do too many things with industrial policy “One is being clear-sighted about what the objectives are. The more things you try to achieve, the less likely you are to get them. So if you have a single-minded, regional policy focused on employment generation, you can do that; if you have a single-minded policy of generating productive capacity in some export-oriented manufacturing sector, you can do that. But if you’re trying to create jobs and further the green transition and promote innovation all at once, you’re likely to miss some of the targets.”…and on not being afraid to let go of losers “The lesson from Solyndra is very important: don’t stick with the losers. And politically, don’t sell the programme on the basis of individual projects. You have to sell the programme as a portfolio, and be very explicit that you’re not expecting everything to be a roaring success”

·       More on industrial policy: Let’s Talk Development is starting a series of posts on different issues around this topic. Here’s my contribution on the micro-empirical evidence (which updates a little a post I did on Development Impact a year or so ago), and here’s the second post by Tristan Reed on identifying which export sectors to prioritize – suggesting low-risk options are to look for productive industries with revealed comparative advantage where some market failures still exist.

·       Planet Money’s newsletter “celebrated” Valentines Day by explaining why dating apps may be getting worse over time – which also linked to this Cory Doctorow piece on how platforms get worse over time (what he terms enshittification) as they move from attracting users with a great experience by showing them what they want to see to trying to make money by instead showing them what someone is willing to pay them to see.

·       STEG is offering a free online course on data for macro development, with lots of great experts giving lectures on topics like human capital, labor, trade, nightlights, cellphone, and climate data. Lectures start March 8.

·       On February 13, J-PAL and IPA launched the Humanitarian Protection Initiative (HPI) to equip humanitarian actors with a greater understanding of cost-effective, scalable, and context-sensitive solutions to prevent and remedy physical, psychological, social, and legal harm against conflict-affected populations.

o   Researchers from or based in LMICs are welcome to apply to the HPI Scholars Program, a research funding and mentoring opportunity. Applications for the scholars program are now open and will close on May 17. 

o   Implementing organizations working in humanitarian response and displacement are invited to apply for IPA and J-PAL's Humanitarian Action Incubator in Bogota, Colombia April 8-10th to learn more about how impact evaluations can support their programmatic, fundraising, and advocacy work. Applications are open until February 21! Apply here.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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