Published on Development Impact

Weekly links July 7: cash in advance, middle managers, updated curated links, teacher development, and more…

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·       “In many cases, the binding constraint is not a lack of innovation in the most advanced firms, but rather the large productive gaps between them and the rest of the economy. Raising the bottom – by providing training, public inputs, and business services to smaller, service-oriented firms – can be more effective than lifting the top” – Dani Rodrik on Project Syndicate discussing why scientific and technological innovation may not be sufficient to result in rising living standards even if it increases productivity for some firms.

·       On the LAC blog, David Evans discusses what works in teacher professional development programs. He identifies four elements of programs that have worked better: 1) a specific subject focus, rather than on general teaching principles; 2) an initial face-to-face element; 3) a high proportion of the time is spent practicing with other teachers, rather than just listening to lectures; and 4) coaching and follow-up visits to help this stick.

·       The New York Times covers anticipatory cash relief – paying small amounts of cash to vulnerable people just before, rather than after, disasters: “This approach has been tried out in several different circumstances: before a cyclone was due to make landfall in Mozambique last March, before a hurricane brought torrential rains to Central America last October, and now, to help people move away from the landslide-prone slopes of Mount Elgon in Uganda”.

·       Decolonizing development economics: Kibrom Abay and co-authors write about the STAARS program at Cornell and share the experiences of a couple of the participants: “The Structural Transformation of African Agriculture and Rural Spaces (STAARS) program was created to flip the script. STAARS competitively selects early career African researchers who design and propose their own scholarly projects, then matches them with senior scholar mentors from Cornell University and other elite global institutions who can support the African Fellow and their intellectual agenda, rather than the other way around…Now in its seventh year, growing evidence supports the idea that the STAARS model works. When compared with otherwise-identical STAARS applicants for whom the program management could not find a suitable mentor, the data suggest that STAARS Fellows engage in more research collaborations and have stronger publication records post-STAARS”

·       The Economist on the plight and potential of the middle manager covers work by Achyuta Adhvaryu, Emir Murathanoglu and Anant Nyshadham on how middle managers may care more about worker retention than improving company productivity, and other recent work about how managers may try to hoard talent within their own teams.

·       A Development Economics course for students based on South Asia is being taught online by Oriana Bandiera and Robin Burgess, and organized by the IZA/FCDO Programme on Gender, Growth and Labor Markets in Low-Income Countries – details and application form here.

·       I’ve updated our lists of curated links that put together some of the posts from our last 12 years:

o   Postings on technical topics and methodology (experimental design, power calculations, difference-in-differences, synthetic controls, IV, matching, external validity, ethics, replication, meta-analysis, getting published, etc)

o   Survey methods and measurement (measurement, survey design, sampling, reducing attrition, fieldwork, using admin data, remote sensing)

o   Miscellanea (Interviews with leading researchers and journal editors, advice, policy debates, etc)


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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