Published on Development Impact

Weekly links: recording surveys, institutions and growth, business experimentation, and more…

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  • From the Growth Economics blog, a three-part series on the growth and institutions literature (part 1, part 2, part 3): includes discussion on the problems of indices of institutional quality – “Reading the cross-country empirical institutions literature is the equivalent of watching studio analysis of NFL games. You have a bunch of people “in the game” of economics sitting around making un-refutable statements that sound plausible, but have essentially zero content.; also a beat-down of what’s wrong with settler mortality as an instrument; and on the policy messages of the newer literature “What specific policy change do any of these papers suggest would lead to economic development? “Don’t get colonized, exploited, or enslaved by Europeans” seems like it would be hard to implement retroactively.”
  • In the Harvard Business Review, Stefan Thomke and Jim Manzi on the Discipline of Business Experimentation: “All too often, though, companies lack the discipline to hone their hypotheses, leading to tests that are inefficient, unnecessarily costly, or, worse, ineffective in answering the question at hand.”…and great example of how not to “experiment” “Petco used to select its 30 best stores to try out a new initiative (as a test group) and compare them with its 30 worst stores (as the control group). Initiatives tested in this way would often look very promising but fail when they were rolled out.”
  • On the Future Development Blog, Jishnu Das and Jeff Hammer argue that the focus in India and elsewhere on giving birth in health institutions is not improving health, and may be worsening it.
  • Field Coordinator position: a job opening for a French-speaker to help on a formalization project in Benin that I am working on.
  • Reminder: the call for innovative ideas on SME growth  closes on December 5th.
  • Last call for Blogging Your Job Market Paper: we will continue to accept submissions until Wednesday December 3rd.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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