Published on Development Impact

Weekly links October 7: globalization backlash, job training that works but may not scale, all my research is climate research, and more…

This page in:

·       Yale Economic Growth Center podcast with Penny Goldberg talking about trade, the backlash to globalization, and her forthcoming monograph. She also talks briefly about her time at the World Bank and on giving policy advice “you have very little time…policymakers need the answers yesterday…so what happens is that most of the time you base your advice not on actual evidence, but on the accumulated wisdom of the past. There it helps to have been exposed to many different ideas and a broad set of questions”.

·       The Economist covers, and has a great graph illustrating, work by Luis Martinez on how dictators overstate GDP, based on comparing satellite data with officially reported stats in different countries: “Assuming that the most democratic countries reported growth figures accurately, he then used the satellite data to estimate if other countries under- or over-stated theirs. The data showed that dictators’ reported gdp tended to grow much faster than satellite images of their countries would suggest. This could not be explained by their economies being based on different industries from other countries, or that people there had lower average incomes.

Curious patterns in the data suggest manipulation as the cause….In updated figures he has provided to us, cumulative gdp growth between 2002 and 2021 in countries “not free” is nearly cut in half: from 147% to 76%.”

·       Can jobs training programs that actually seem to work (in the U.S.) be scaled? The New York Times covers comprehensive sectoral training programs: “learning computer software skills was only part of the experience at Year Up, a nonprofit job training program. The coursework, followed by a six-month internship at a company, included classes on speaking in public, teamwork, professional behavior and attire. There was a closet with men’s and women’s business clothes, and an ironing board. Year Up also arranged help with basic needs including subsidized child care, medical insurance and food assistance. When her car broke down, she got a grant to get it fixed….They share a holistic approach to work force development. They foster close relations with employers. They offer training for in-demand work skills and coaching in “soft skills,” like communication and teamwork. And they provide or arrange help with daily life challenges, like child care and transportation. But while growing, these programs are small. Even larger ones, like Year Up, reach only a few thousand students a year….The students pay no tuition and receive a small stipend during coursework and a larger stipend during their six-month internships with employers. The graduation rate is 70 percent, and the average starting salary for graduates is $48,000, a middle-income wage….after six years, Year Up students — including those who did not graduate — made 30 percent more than a comparable group of young people who did not experience the program”. And why this may be in the self-interest of firms “An engine of growth for Year Up recently has been forging deeper relationships with corporations that host large numbers of the program’s interns. The appeal is mainly to self-interest: Studies show that companies pay up to 30 percent more for college graduates than for those without four-year degrees but equivalent jobs skills and experience, and turnover is higher for college graduates. Corporate diversity goals are also an incentive.”

·       The IGC has several pieces on research and policy for climate change, energy, and the environment:

o   In this growth brief, Sharma, Dobermann and Burgess give an overview on policy directions for sustainable growth. “Growth must remain a central tenet of the transition to a greener economy. Without a path for growth, there is no path to a green transition…As the bulk of future emissions will come from developing countries, equipping them with greener technology, knowledge and skills, and climate financing to mitigate and adapt to climate change, will enable them to cut down their emissions as they grow – a win-win situation for everyone”. And we can now motivate all the work we do on spurring migration and urban jobs as part of climate strategy! “Barriers to structural transformation are also barriers to climate adaptation. Policies that expand access to markets, enhance human capital, or help match rural workers to jobs in cities are crucial not just for growth, but also adaptation and resilience, by reducing exposure to climate shocks”

o   A summary of the research work on firms and the environment presented at the recent LSE environment week.

o   And a summary post on new research on energy and the environment.

·       Stefanie Stantcheva has a new NBER working paper which is a guide to running surveys. It is largely focused on online surveys in developed countries, but discussion of issues like the wording of questions, attention checks, ways to ask about sensitive questions, and the use of priming experiments may be of broader interest to those designing their first surveys. For example, one small tip “Remove numerical labels unless they have a true meaning. Unless the question is numeric, do not add numeric labels to answer options (such as “1 = Strongly disagree, 2 = Disagree, ..., 5 = Strongly agree”). Respondents will interpret numbers, which is both distracting and potentially misleading. For instance, Dillman et al. (2014) report that respondents may interpret the answer options differently based on the numbers assigned, even if the numbers themselves are meaningless.”


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