Published on Development Impact

Weekly links July17: Effective altruism, natural experiments, measuring hope, and more…

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  • A summary of 19 natural experiments in social sciences from the Stirling Behavioral Science blog – some are actually lotteries like the Vietnam draft whereas some are the “natural experiments” that aren’t experiments like the Mariel Boatlift.
  • Chris Blattman on the assumptions behind some of those cost-benefit claims for ultra-poor programs and livestock transfer plus programs: “More than 85 percent of the benefits estimated by these papers (including mine) are in the future…In terms of cost-effectiveness, these cash and livestock programs are promising but not proven.”
  • Boston Review on effective altruism: includes Peter Singer, Daron Acemoglu, Angus Deaton, and many more. Here’s Acemoglu: “A large body of research shows that economic development is the best way to lift millions out of poverty and improve their health, education, and access to public amenities. So one has to take into account how charities’ activities affect economic development, which is essentially impossible. If, as some economists and political scientists suggest, changes in political and economic institutions are critical for long-run economic growth, then watchdog organizations such as Amnesty may be essential for transforming dysfunctional regimes. Effective altruists don’t (yet?) see the importance of these more political organizations.”
  • Introduction to treatment effects in Stata Part 1 – from the Stata blog, description of how to do regression and inverse probability weighting using the teffects command.
  • Rachel Glennerster on how development economists underreport the tremendous amount of qualitative work behind their experiments
  • Adventures in measuring hope – Jeffrey Bloem on the Economics that Really Matters blog.
  • The Research on Systems of Education (RISE) project has a call for expressions of interest out, due August 23. Lee Crawfurd provides key links to all you need about the program and how to apply. “There is £21 million of DFID money to be split between 5 country research teams (with a preference for bids from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Ghana Pakistan, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, or other DFID focus countries) to study reforms that are happening to education systems that might credibly have a big impact of student learning.”


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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