Published on Development Impact

Weekly links September 11: time to catch up on a month of interesting content

This page in:

A bumper set of links this week since lots of interesting reading came out while we were on a summer break:

·       I’ve long been a fan of ANU’s Devpolicy blog. It really should an inspiration for university development groups and public policy schools around the world in terms of how to provide insightful and interesting commentary, news, and research on a region. Their coverage of migration and aid issues in the Pacific is outstanding. I wanted to especially link to it today to recommend their posts of personal experiences of development from some of their Masters students. In a recent post, Huiyuan Liu provides an account of her experience as an urban Chinese volunteering at a rural school in Liangshan, one of the poorest regions of China – with rich descriptions of what daily life is like and in part 2, of the challenges of teaching and draw of migration; I also enjoyed an earlier six-part series written by scholarship students from Papua New Guinea.

·       “far too often the poor elect politicians and administrators who do not share their interests” – Rohini Pande in Science on what interventions work to get democracy to work better for the poor.

·       EGAP has a helpful page by Christopher Grady on 10 things to know about survey experiments. See also this new paper by Blair et al. on social desirability bias and list experiments.

·       IPA has a new page up on phone surveying during pandemics and an associated blog summarizing some key patterns in the literature on response rates and representativeness. This is a useful compliment to our earlier blog posts on phone surveying (part 1, part 2).

·       Tyler Cowen’s interview with Nathan Nunn – a wide-ranging discussion on persistence, African development, and a lot more.

·       I also enjoyed Tyler’s conversation with my co-author Nick Bloom. One thing that particularly resonated was a part towards the end where Nick explains how he gets new ideas for research, and how the lack of conferences and travel during Covid has affected this  - he notes that working from home and less meetings means that his current slate of ongoing projects is fine, but what he misses and worries about longer term is the lack of idea discovery that comes from talking with new people, as in the classic all-day academic seminar “A classic day will be, you turn up at 10:00 AM. You have half-hour meetings and then lunch, and there’s a talk in the afternoon and then dinner. What I really like is those one-on-one meetings because you’re talking to lots of people for half an hour. I find them fundamentally really tiring because you’re fully on. Actually, whenever I meet people, I go to their website, look them up for half an hour, 20 minutes beforehand, and really try and learn about what they work on. It takes a lot of time, but I find it really valuable. That’s the great source of ideas…. I went to give a seminar at Ohio State University. I sat in Xiaoji’s office for half an hour. We kind of got excited about a research idea. That was the critical meeting point. I’m not sure it would have happened if we’d done it remotely. After talking to him, I thought, “This guy seems great. There’s a really interesting idea.” We continue to communicate by email. My thought is, and it kind of matches roughly what a lot of Silicon Valley types say, is the initial spark or idea is much more effectively generated in person.”

·       In the latest JEP, an excellent overview by David Lagakos on the urban-rural gaps in the developing world and what they mean for whether policymakers should encourage internal migration.

·       Bruce Wydick summarizes his newest study on the impact of surgery to fix cleft-lip and/or palate. One interesting point from impact evaluation is the difficulty in working with a rare event “The prevalence of CLP is only about 1 in 700 births, and while most field surveys are able to reach many households in a day, our enumerators were often tracking down individual CLP children in remote villages.  The survey work began in May of 2017 and lasted until July of 2019”.

·       In an update to a Development Impact post from two years ago, Dave Evans blogged about the three-year results of a randomized controlled trial comparing face-to-face teacher coaching to virtual teacher coaching. Also, apparently unaware that no one will read his papers in August, Dave blogged about a new paper (with Mendez Acosta) summing up more than 140 impact evaluations on education in Africa; a new paper (with Yuan and Filmer) on teacher pay across 15 countries in Africa; and (with Yuan) another new paper on how big effect sizes are in international education studies. Did he not get the memo about us collectively agreeing to all have productivity suffer together?

·       Stata blog posts on using python within Stata with a second post of examples of three ways of doing so, post 3 on installing packages, part 4 on using pandas (and more posts to come).


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