Published on Development Impact

Weekly links May 29: Great seminars and what is lost online, learning losses after school shutdowns, ask what’s interesting around you, and more…

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·       The research group lost one of its own earlier this month, when Adam Wagstaff sadly passed away. Health Economics has fittingly put together a virtual issue with a remembrance by Eddy van Doorslaer, and then links to all 28 articles Adam wrote or co-authored in the journal (and the remembrance noting he also published a further 28 in the Journal of Health Economics)!

·       Jishnu Das and co-authors summarize new work on long-term learning losses from an earthquake in Pakistan and how this widened existing inequalities.

·       Interesting interview with Josh Angrist in the Richmond Fed Econ Focus:  “One thing I learned is that empiricists should work on stuff that's nearby. Then you can have some visibility into what's unique and try to get on to projects that other people can't do. This is particularly true for empiricists who are working outside the United States. There's a temptation to just mimic whatever the Americans and British are doing. I think a better strategy is to say, "Well, what's special and interesting about where I am?" And it turned out that the Israeli school system had a lot of interesting things going on.”

·       In Economic Principals, Jim Poterba discusses moving the NBER meetings online, and what works well with the move to virtual seminars and what doesn’t: “My assessment – and others might disagree – is that on-line presentations have worked quite well for summarizing the findings of completed papers.  The comments from assigned discussants also work well.  The greatest differences between the in-person and the on-line experience seem to be in the dynamic of question-and-answer and (not surprisingly) in the opportunity for informal interaction away from the presentation.  I have seen some Q&A periods work well, most often when the organizer takes the initiative to encourage some participants to ask questions or when one member of a co-author team is presenting the paper, while another member is active in chat channel answering or clarifying questions as they arise. …This is likely to be particularly important for early-career scholars, who do not have established networks and who have traditionally depended on conversations at professional meetings, often at lunch or dinner or over coffee outside the formal presentations, to meet other researchers and to begin collaborations.  Although virtual meetings struggle with regard to networking, they excel with regard to convenience…. Some [seminars] have attracted many hundreds of participants”.

·       Talking of virtual seminars: two virtual development conferences (one today and tomorrow; and one in July), and a video from a recent one:

o   The BREAD conference is virtual and runs 11am-3pm EST today and tomorrow (May 29-30). Here is the schedule. Live streaming is on Panopto today at and Saturday at Questions can be asked using this Slido link.

o   Schedule for the NBER Summer institute Development conference, which will also be livestreamed.

o   Video of Max Kasy’s talk “what do we want and when do we want it?” on experimental design, in the recent Chamberlain seminar – I was one of the discussants, and it was a really nice overview by Max of several papers, including new work on adaptive experimental design for placing refugees into jobs.



David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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