Weekly links June 26: progressive consumption taxes, conference and journal calls, tackling malnutrition in Madagascar, and more…


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·       On Let’s Talk Development, Pierre Bachas, Lucie Gadenne and Anders Jensen summarize new work they have done on consumption taxes and inequality – contrary to the developed country idea that consumption taxes are regressive, they show they are progressive in many poor countries because the poor spend more of their income in the informal sector,

·       An IPA blog on ongoing evaluations with displaced populations.

·       In Science this week, explaining machine learning and policy choices: “Because the quantities that ML systems seek to optimize have to be specified by their users, explainable ML will force policy-makers to be more explicit about their objectives, and thus about their values and political choices, exposing policy trade-offs that may have previously only been implicit and obscured… Most policy decision-making makes extensive use of constructive ambiguity to pursue shared objectives with sufficient political consensus. There is thus a tension between political or policy decisions, which trade off multiple (often incommensurable) aims and interests, and ML, typically a utilitarian maximizer of what is ultimately a single quantity and which typically entails explicit weighting of decision criteria.”

·       SIEF From Evidence to Policy note on tackling malnutrition and poor child development in Madagascar – nutritional supplements to kids starting at 6 months worked well, home visits to parents had limited impacts.

·       Video of Raj Chetty’s Princeton talk on real-time evidence on the economic impacts of Covid-19 – as well as a really in-depth look at what is going on with consumer spending, employment, short-term impacts of government policies, and student learning in the U.S., the talk is also a great example of how to effectively use graphs to illustrate many results.

·       Two seminars left in the IGL virtual seminar series on new RCTs in innovation and firm policies, starting with Leo Iacovone on July 2.

·       Evidence of the huge amount of rapid work on COVID-19: World Development received over 650 manuscripts in 8 weeks in response to its call for a special issue on pandemics, sustainability and development.

·       Schedule for the NBER summer institute, which will all be live-streamed – first sessions start July 6, the Development session is July 20-21, but there are also other sessions with development papers or likely to be of interest to development economists.

·       A BITSS blog post on research transparency and Covid-19.

·       Journal special issue call for papers: JEBO has a call for papers for a special issue on pandemic economics, papers due by end of this year.

·       Conference call for papers: 16th Households in Conflict Network is seeking papers that papers that shed a light on the nexus between pandemics, social unrest and violent conflict (submissions due July 15).


David McKenzie

Lead Economist, Development Research Group, World Bank

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