Published on Development Impact

Weekly links January 29: African scholars on migration, subways reducing pollution, Batman vs Mario on poverty dynamics, and more…

This page in:

·       Publications by African scholars on migration, mobility and displacement:  “African scholars are not adequately cited or engaged with in debates based in, or dominated by, research in the Global North. It is our hope that by using the AMMODI platform to highlight Africa-based scholarship, we may encourage scholars all over the world to read new exciting work, engage with it and open up new debates and research collaborations.” – an excellent idea to help overcome information asymmetries and highlight work and authors that might otherwise be overlooked. Would be great to see such an initiative for other development topics as well.  (h/t This Week in Africa).

·       How do subways affect air pollution? On VoxDev, Gendron-Carrier and co-authors summarize their study of “all of the 58 subway openings and 143 expansions that occurred anywhere in the world between August 2001 and July 2016. In analysing the effects up to four years after the intervention, we dramatically improve our understanding of the relationship between subways and urban air pollution… an average subway opening resulted in a small improvement in air quality during the 18 post-opening months relative to the 18 pre-opening months. This decrease in airborne particulates cannot be statistically distinguished from zero”, but there is heterogeneity, with the worst-polluted cities seeing improvements, with cities in the worst half of the distribution having air quality improve by about 4% after the subway opening, with this effect persisting for at least 4 years.

·       COVID-19 and academic workhours: A new NBER working paper by Tatyana Deryugina and co-authors “We sent a survey via email to approximately 900,000 individuals who had published at least one academic article in the past five years … yielding a total of 27,991 responses” “The pandemic reduced daily work hours by about one hour per day relative to the pre-pandemic 9.1-hour average, with time spent on research driving the vast majority of the reduction… having a child is correlated with a significantly larger post-pandemic reduction in research time for both genders, but the effects are doubled for female academics. Overall, women with children lose about an hour of research time per day more than childless men do. Men with children lose 30 minutes of research time more than men with no children… the largest relative drop in research time occurs for women with children under 1 year of age (nearly 2 hours per day).”

·       Ranil Dissanayake and Matt Collin have started a new podcast called “Paper Round” where they discuss papers – starting with the paper “Why do poor people stay poor?”. They claim that they don’t blog anymore because twitter has meant people’s attention spans are too short – and their answer is a 58 minute podcast! But where else will you get theories of mobility discussed as whether you need to be more like Batman or like Mario getting a mushroom?

·       Over at the CGD blog, Dave Evans looked at a bunch of applied development papers in top economics journals and gives advice on how to structure an abstract, complementing his early exercise on how to write an introduction

·       Some learning materials:

o   Webcasts and slides of the AEA continuing education sessions this year – IO, Labor and applied micro, and markets for innovation.

o   Slides and syllabus for Max Kasy’s machine learning course.

·       WBRO Spring meeting call: ​​The World Bank Research Observer (WBRO) seeks to publish policy relevant surveys of development issues, aimed at a non-specialist audience. Papers for consideration at the Spring 2021 meeting of the WBRO Editorial Board should be submitted to the Editor ( no later than Friday, March 12, 2021.

·       Funding opportunity: The Women's Work, Entrepreneurship, and Skilling (WWES) Initiative RFP is due Feb 12. Here's the link to the website with all the application materials.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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