Published on Development Impact

Weekly links September 12: Give money to young researchers, the TOMS evaluation, electric shocks, and more…

This page in:
  • On Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok discusses new research on lottery-linked savings accounts.
  • In the Economist, a plea for better data on time use.
  • Important piece in Ars technical on how the current funding system stifles creativity in science which rings true somewhat in economics as well:  “a research idea that is immune to criticism during peer review will, by its very nature, be cautious and take minimal risks…Rather than have peers assess the innovative potential of an idea, preliminary data and publication records are now the dominant parts of the evaluation…Tighter budgets, coupled with this approach to peer-review, means that vague but exciting ideas proposed by young, inexperienced researchers simply can’t compete against safe, incremental ideas from established scientists….If current trends continue, by 2020, the NIH will fund more investigators over 70 years of age than those under 40.” (h/t Marginal Revolution).
  • In Science this week, Pascaline Dupas summarizes a range of recent studies on the role of subsidies in getting people to use essential health products: demand curves are steep, and people are just as likely to use items if they pay low prices as when they pay high prices for them; but subsidies do lead to overuse of anti-malarials and antibiotics.
  • In the latest issue of the Journal of Development Effectiveness, Bruce Wydick and co-authors provide a randomized evaluation of one of the most frequently criticized by bloggers aid charities– TOM shoes. They look at whether randomly giving these shoes to kids crowds out shoe purchases from local markets in El Salvador: “While all of our regression estimates lie in the direction of slightly negative impacts on household shoe purchases, they fail to reach statistical significance, and thus we cannot present conclusive evidence pointing to a negative impact on domestic markets from inkind donations “.
  • In Vox, a summary of interesting political science research on how politicians can change voters’ minds on particular issues.
  • For those of you looking for stronger commitment devices than SMS reminders, Stephen Colbert has a nice segment describing the Pavlock, which can give you an electric shock if you don’t exercise, and also post on your Facebook for you.


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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