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Monthly Archives: March 2011

Does growth reflect good and bad dictators, or just good and bad statisticians?

As a previous post showed, autocracies have high variance of growth outcomes (also illustrated in the graph above). The usual interpretation is that benevolent autocrats cause good outcomes while malevolent autocrats cause bad growth outcomes.  Democracy has checks and balances that prevents malevolent people from having too much power to generate bad outcomes, but also restrains the good ones from doing what they want to achieve the great outcomes.

Unless this is completely wrong. Autocracy…

Posted in Academic research, Data and statistics | 23 Comments

The Aid Contest of the Celebrity Exes

A high-profile charitable foundation set up to build a school for impoverished girls in Malawi, founded by the singer Madonna …has collapsed after spending $3.8 million on a project that never came to fruition…. the plans to build a $15 million school for about 400 girls in the poor southeastern African country of 15 million — which had drawn financial support from Hollywood and society circles…— have been officially abandoned.

Madonna’s Charity Fails in Bid

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Badvocacy and celebs, In the news | 16 Comments

2500 years of Development in 100 Seconds

This marvelous video from 498 BC to 2011 AD shows the location and concentration of events mentioned in Wikipedia at different dates.

A History of the World in 100 Seconds from Gareth Lloyd on Vimeo.

Taking that as an informal history of development, the main takeaway is that for most of history, things were mainly happening along the line between Birmingham and Baghdad.

PS as far as your kneejerk reaction that “Wikipedia is Eurocentric”, …

Posted in Uncategorized | 18 Comments

The African Success Story

If there was a theme to the development stories I read last week it was that the good news about rising standards of living on much of the African continent is not getting the recognition it deserves in the mainstream imagination.

In case you don’t agree that people have a negatively skewed image of Africa as a whole, try this experiment: Ask an educated, well-read (but non-Africanist) friend or relative to estimate what percentage of…

Posted in Books and book reviews, In the news, Stereotypes | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

Commemorating the Triangle Fire

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Company Fire. 146 people, mainly immigrant women, some as young as 14 years old, died when a fire broke out on the top three floors of a garment factory at the corner of Greene and Washington Place, just off Washington Square Park in New York City.

A year before, the women of Triangle Shirtwaist had led a city-wide strike of 20,000 garment workers…

Posted in History, In the news | 13 Comments

Malaria, past and present

Paul Russell, the main architect of the Malaria Eradication Program, had promised the Eisenhower Administration that the DDT-spray teams would extend a hand of friendship to wavering Cold War allies, revive the entrepreneurial spirit of populations made dull and sickly by malaria, open up huge areas of fertile land for cultivation, pro-mote economic development, end poverty, and spur demand for American products. But the global DDT campaign turned out to be one of the most famous and costly failures in the history of public health. Although by 1970 the

Posted in Books and book reviews, Global health | 13 Comments

What if NCAA Basketball Tournament Teams were coached by Development Economists?

Tomorrow night is the next round of March Madness, the annual NCAA tournament that started off with 64 college basketball teams, now reduced to the “Sweet Sixteen” .

It is not widely known that some lower seeded teams in the tournament, who had to play much better teams, desperately sought advice from leading Development Economists.

A Columbia Professor said we already know the successful ingredients for a championship, just get lots of funding for the…

Posted in Aid debates, Satire and parodies | Tagged , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

The World Economy goes East: should the West get hysterical?

Danny Quah of LSE has a new article “The Global Economy’s Shifting Centre of Gravity“. Here’s the shift, where black dots denote the easterly shift that has already happened 1980-2007, and red dots the projected shift 2010-2049:

[CORRECTION: I got the following paragraph wrong {the original in brackets}: {The future shift extrapolates current trends. This is iffy given how individual country growth is mean-reverting, but I will leave that for another…

Posted in Academic research | Tagged , , | 27 Comments

Don’t be snobbish towards merchants & entrepreneurs, and you’ll develop

Aid Watch interviewed Deirdre McCloskey, author of the fascinating new book shown here.

Could you briefly state the thesis of your book?

Modern economic growth—that stunning increase from $3 a day in 1800 worldwide to now upwards of $130 a day in the richest countries, and anyway $30 as a worldwide average—can’t be accounted for in the usual and materialist ways.  It wasn’t trade, investment, exploitation, imperialism, education, legal changes, genes, science.  It was innovation,

Posted in Books and book reviews | Tagged | 30 Comments

America’s Warrior Women

FIGHT OF THE VALKYRIES: Update Tues Mar 23 3:45pm: Maureen Dowd in NYT also notes (colorfullly) the Lady Hawks vs. Male Doves split in the Administration on Libya

Breaking news 7pm: US starts bombing Libya to knock out anti-aircraft missiles, to begin enforcing no-fly-zone.

The Christian Science Monitor notes one difference between those in the Administration who argued for the war in Libya, and those who argued against it.

FOR: Secretary of…

Posted in In the news, Military aid, Women and gender | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments