Published on Development Impact

Weekly links November 3: cleaner air and worker productivity, Indian young women and their labor market challenges, critiquing climate economics, and more…

This page in:

·       On Let’s Talk Development, Teevrat Garg, Maulik Jagnani and Nancy Lozano Gracia report very promising early results from an RCT in Bangladesh that put air purifiers in textile factories. “After a three-month observation period (data collection and digitization of productivity data remains ongoing), we observed remarkable effects resulting from the use of air purifiers. Factories equipped with air purifiers experienced a 37% reduction in indoor air pollution… The impact on productivity was striking, with workers in firms with air purifiers producing, on average, 27% more pieces compared to workers in firms without air purifiers”

·       Tyler Cowen interviews Stephen Jennings about the new Special Enterprise Zone, Tatu City, being built outside of Nairobi – and why Africa’s cities to date have not benefited much from agglomeration and how they plan to overcome these with building a new city “proper planning and controls really broke down in the ’60s. The plans were not enforced. The development was completely haphazard. Utilities were not modernized, and capacity was not built. You have huge capacity issues and shortages around power, water, and other amenities. You have enormous congestion problems. The cities are clogged, the service levels are poor, the planning has been almost nonexistent, and there are massive capacity issues and transport issues. As they’ve grown, they’ve become more congested and less efficient”.

·       The New York Times has a series on India’s daughters about the challenges young women face in trying to delay marriage to do paid work and to work outside the home after marriage. “In India, poor families with ambitious daughters must grapple with a pressing calculation: How much should they invest, and how much risk should they accept, for an uncertain reward in the future? And, just as important, who should make that decision?”.  The second part covers Alice Evans’ work on the patrilineal trap “why some countries have made huge gains in gender equality over the past century while others, including India and many in the Middle East, have remained more patriarchal. One explanation is what she calls the patrilineal trap. In societies that place a high premium on “family honor” — which depends on female members’ chastity outside marriage — families are reluctant to allow their unmarried daughters to do anything that might make them seem less chaste than their peers... the patrilineal trap breaks when the economy industrializes and more young women move to cities to take jobs. But that requires women’s wages to be high enough to be worth the reputational risk. And in India, economic growth has remained largely concentrated in small, family-owned firms; industries where people have precarious, informal jobs; or factories that rarely employ women.”

·       Christopher Ketchum has a critical piece on the DICE macro climate models of Nordhaus and ones that build on this with the title “when idiot savants do climate economics” – and discusses several ways some of these models can lead to an understatement of the potential catastrophe: an inability to capture uncertainty, and the risk of tipping points; apparently the models assume GDP growth rates are exogenous and not affected by climate change; assumptions that if temperature rises, GDP will look like that of other locations that currently have that temperature; and an assumption that all activity that takes place indoors won’t be affected. This is not my field, and while it quotes several economists (including Stiglitz and Stern), it does not draw out any positives from economic models being applied to climate change – a more balanced article would perhaps indicate where economists equally think some of the assumptions of climate scientists are perhaps missing something. But definitely an interesting read.

·       Funding call: The Agency Fund has a call for proposals leveraging AI to amplify human agency

·       Conference call: PACDEV will be at Stanford on March 9, submissions close December 10.

·       Last call for our blog your job market series: submissions close Wednesday November 8.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

Join the Conversation

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly
Remaining characters: 1000