Published on Development Impact

Weekly links January 12: lessons from Poland and Malaysia, African foreign policy priorities, economics seminar dynamics, writing for kids, and more…

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·        Ken Opalo has started posting on his substack “An Africanist Perspective”. Here he is on African development in an era of climate change: “Too many people are willing to accept the dehumanizing poverty and lack of access to energy in Africa as natural. African countries need to grow fast. They should therefore, as a matter of policy, adopt a strategy of using all available resources they have to guarantee their populations and industries sustainable access to energy…. The promises of green development are real. But only sound policy approaches grounded in economic and political realities will enable African countries to walk the fine balance between urgently needed growth and long-term greening.”.  And here are his thoughts on what African foreign policy should prioritize as they engage with the world.

·        The Washington Post has an interesting piece on the science journal, Frontiers for Young Minds, where the reviewers are aged 8 to 15. Articles cover both core concepts and new discoveries, and are intended to make science accessible to young readers. This would be a terrific thing for the AEA to launch for economics!

·        Also in explaining concepts better, the Journal of Econometrics has launched a new “How To” series. The first one is on cluster-robust inference by James MacKinnon, Morten Nielsen and Matthew Webb.

·        The latest issue of the CSWEP newsletter covers economics seminar dynamics:, with this great reminder as job market talks get underway -  “about half of all questions asked during a seminar are clarifying questions which probably reveals that we often don’t read the paper before the seminar. Another 20 percent are comments, suggesting that we like to hear ourselves talk. Many of these clarifying questions and comments happen early on in the seminar and tend to disrupt the speaker’s flow, possibly derailing their talk…. taking time to ask ourselves: “How important is the answer to this question at this time?” “Could I find the answer if I looked through the paper?” “What is the likelihood that the information I am after will be provided in later slides?” In other words, if your question starts with “You might be getting to this” or “This might be in the paper but” then just stop and wait to ask your question later, maybe even after the talk.”

·        Related to the above, Mateo Seré’s job market paper uses data on 2,131 economics seminars that were web-streamed and machine learning audio processing algorithms to look at interactions in online seminars – finding women are interrupted earlier and more often when giving seminars, largely from other women in the audience, while men make more “this is more of a comment than a question” with female presenters.

·        “If there really is an FDI-centric model that lets your country get rich, that’s incredibly good news for the rest of the developing world, because it’s probably a lot easier to copy Poland and Malaysia than to replicate the success of South Korea” – Noah Smith on industrial policy and what can be learned from Poland and Malaysia.

·        Temporary wage subsidies to young high school graduates boosted formal employment in Mexico – VoxDev summary by Eliana Carranza and Martin Abel. “The incentive increased formal employment among eligible vocational school graduates by 4.2 percentage points (14.5 percent) over the first two years, driven by a 5 percentage point (25 percent) increase in jobs with permanent contracts…we find that young individuals tend to significantly underestimate formal wage growth…youth in our sample have very high discount rates, which limits the attractiveness of future benefits that (formal) jobs offer including strong wage growth and social protection coverage”

·        On the Let’s Talk Development blog, Maria Jones, Roshni Khincha and Avnish Dayal Singh summarize some takeaways from a recent set of lighting talks on ethical challenges in data collection. “Do respondents really understand what they are agreeing to? Do they feel that it is indeed their choice to participate?... There is no consensus in the development research community about whether and how to compensate respondents”

·        In Anthropology news, Hannah Borenstein has a piece “Running in the Dark” about Ethiopian runners training early in the morning in the outskirts of Addis. I need to do this type of fieldwork!

·        Peter Hannam in the Guardian has a nice piece on “remembering Martin Ravallion, ‘superstar’ Australian economist who made poverty his life’s work

·        Conference call for papers: the 2023 Thred conference for theory work on development is to be held at Aix Marseille June 15-16, with submissions due Jan 20.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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