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Monthly Archives: January 2011

What’s it like to live in a Millennium Village?

In Mayange, a cluster of villages about an hour’s drive south of Kigali, Rwanda, interventions by the Millennium Village Project across all sectors (in seeds, fertilizer, malaria nets, health clinics, vaccines, ambulances, water sources, classrooms, computers, cell towers, microloans and lots more) aim to lift villagers out of poverty within five to ten years.

What do we know about the effects of such ambitious projects on the lives of the people living in these impoverished,…

Posted in Academic research, Metrics and evaluation | Tagged , | 22 Comments

Will the first Charter City be in Honduras?

A reader pointed us to the news that the Honduras is deliberating whether to pass legislation this month that would pave the way for the first “Charter City” to be created on Honduran soil by 2012.

The radical brainchild of Stanford economist Paul Romer, the Charter Cities concept is based on the idea that good rules make good societies. Accordingly, poor countries should be able to galvanize their own development by building foreign-financed…

Posted in In the news, Organizational behavior | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

Complexity, Spontaneous Order, blah, blah, blah…and Wow

UPDATE: Thanks to the commenters who confirmed the “hostile reactions” thesis while disavowing hostility :>)… By the way, I am surprised nobody has yet mentioned that blogs, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are superb examples of Spontaneous Order.

I was surprised by hostile reactions to mentioning complexity on the Ivory Coast coup debate. Of course, I dish out hostility like water myself, so it’s only fair that I got accused of mindlessly mumbling complexity to sound trendy.

Regardless…

Posted in Economics principles | 29 Comments

Culture matters

My wonderful NYU Economics colleague Raquel Fernandez has been carrying out a fascinating research program on the effect of culture on development outcomes. The academic literature on this is exploding, and Raquel surveys it in a recent paper.

A simple yet powerful methodology for exploring the role of culture is to study differences in behavior among second-generation immigrants to the U.S. The idea is that all of them face a similar environment in the…

Posted in Academic research | Tagged , | 20 Comments

Does bad taste indicate dictators’ vulnerability to overthrow?

UPDATE: an enterprising reader offered another intriguing datapoint

Bill noticed it on ubiquitous billboards during a trip to Libya. Laura found more examples. So we think we have found an intriguing phenomenon: autocrats and outré pop stars look alike. Photographic evidence:

And one last uncanny visual correlation:

There are many directions we could go with this, but we choose for now the point that many dictators look ridiculous, and ridiculously unaware of how ridiculous.

A…

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs, Satire and parodies | Tagged | 21 Comments

No coups please, Professor Collier

UPDATE 10:30AM 1/15: Chris Blattman has a thoughtful response to my blog. The Complexity tribe is still upset that I didn’t do their sacred idea of Complexity justice.

On the Guardian Global Development blog, I tell Paul Collier that he’s crazy to recommend a coup in Cote d’Ivoire. But the use of complexity theory allows me to be very nice about it.

Posted in Badvocacy and celebs, In the news, Meta, Organizational behavior | Tagged , | 24 Comments

It takes more than a cow, but…girls still count

By Amanda Glassman, Director of Global Health Policy at the Center for Global Development, and Miriam Temin, co-author of Start With A Girl

In her blog post on Aid Watch last week, Anna Carella took on the “Girl Effect,” using some faulty logic and evidence oversights. Marketing may have over-simplified the message in the translation of research to advocacy in the campaign, but let’s take the post point-by-point:

[The campaign…] relies…on the view that women are innately

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Women and gender | 19 Comments

Deep in the Sahara, listening to “Feelings”


Perhaps it’s a sign of ambivalence about Development that one periodically wants to flee the most developed places and go to the least developed place on earth.

One candidate for the latter is the Sahara desert in southwest Libya, around the Akakus mountains. The few local inhabitants are the Tuareg, with apparently very traditional ways (including great courtesy and hospitality). Bread baked in the sand with hot coals. On foot from one…

Posted in Field notes | 3 Comments

Aid is not just complicated; it’s complex

One of the points that we try to make on this blog is that aid, planned from an ultra high level and driven to alleviate just the symptoms of poverty, doesn’t realistically address the complex problems of international development. We understand that our own economies are complex and require complex allocation mechanisms (i.e. markets; see also “failure of the U.S.S.R.”) but this thinking doesn’t hold when it comes to helping the poor. So consequently we…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Language | Tagged , , , | 24 Comments

Sudan isn’t the only one: the Artificial States problem

In an article newly published in the Journal of the European Economic Association ( just in time for the South Sudan referendum!),  Alberto Alesina, Janina Matuszeski and I look at the general problem of “artificial states.” (Ungated working paper here.)

We have one conventional and one unconventional definition of artificial states, both of them continuous measures of “artificiality.” The conventional one measures the frequency of ethnic groups split in two by a…

Posted in Academic research, Organizational behavior | Tagged , , | 18 Comments