Published on Development Impact

Weekly links October 22: growth vs social policies, economists as parents, why bother with school if you might have to drop out, and more…

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·       Alice Evans interviews Claudia Goldin about her book “Career and Family”(podcast, transcript). They cover topics that include flexible work and gender pay gaps, women in STEM and economics, the “pollution theory of discrimination” and why men have protected certain jobs against the entry of women, and more. Here is Goldin on the growth of remote work “The last thing we want is a work from home female ghetto because it's always going to be the case that there are inherent biases and the person you get to know, the person that you can really look in their eyes, the person you can tap on the back (hopefully only on the back) is the person you learn to trust, is the person whose name comes to your mind when you're asked, “who should get that contract, who should get that client, whose paper should be published and so on”.”

·       On VoxDev, Esther Gehrke and Andrew Foster look at whether the risk of having to interrupt schooling potentially keeps parents from sending their child to school in the first place in rural India. They find evidence that it does, and suggest a role for reliable and transparent income-smoothing programs in mitigating this effect.

·       IEA’s featured economist from around the world this month is Maria del Pilar López, an Assistant Professor at the Universidad de los Andes in Bogota. She talks about her work on the historical roots of Colombia’s current development challenges, and her advice for networking as an economist based in a developing country.

·       Lant Pritchett (on his aptly named LantRant blog) stresses the importance of being careful with language about what matters in development – and why it is ridiculous to argue that targeted social programs based on rigorous empirical evidence are as equally important as growth in preventing people from being left behind. However, as I note in the paper he refers to, we often are really unsure about what policies will be best to spur growth, and “efforts to achieve transformative processes can often have far less impact than those processes themselves, for example “migrating abroad has big impacts on poverty, but many efforts to facilitate migration abroad have much smaller impacts.” So if, instead, the claim was something like “within the set of policies possible in the current Overton window in many countries, policies which change social programs are likely to do more for the poor than the marginal policy effort to spur growth”, then this would still call for some evidence to back it up, but seem less objectionable. For example, it seems likely that the child tax credit in the U.S. in the past year did a lot more for (at least current) poverty than any growth policy that was feasible to pass politically.

·       On the CGD blog, Dave Evans, Amina Mendez Acosta and Fei Yuan summarize the evidence for what works for fostering girls education when taken to scale.

·       I like these guidelines from Econometrica and Quantitative Economics for referees, which I think most journals would benefit from adopting: in particular 1) divide report into summary, essential points, and suggestions; 2) the list of critical revisions should include no more than 3 items, and preferably fewer, and avoid suggesting more appendices; and 3) keep reports short, professional in criticism, and generous in praise (h/t @GGenicot).

·       The latest episode of the Freakonomics podcast looks at economists as parents, revisiting 10 years after an earlier episode the economists (Justin Wolfers and Betsey Stevenson, Bruce Sacerdote, Bryan Caplan, and Steve Levitt)  and now interviewing their children

·       Reminder: our blog your job market paper call is now taking submissions.

·       Calls for papers:

o   CSAE 2022 will be all virtual, taking place March 14-18, with submissions due this coming Monday (October 25).

o   The STEG conference for 2022 will take place virtually Jan 19-21, with submissions due 22 November.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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