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Monthly Archives: April 2011

Money buys happiness after all

Does happiness rise with income? Are people in poor countries less happy than people in rich countries?

Much of what we thought we knew on this topic comes from a famous 1974 study by economic historian Richard Easterlin. Easterlin found that within countries, rich people tended to be happier than the poor. But contrary to expectation, rich countries as a whole were not happier than poor countries. And even stranger, in the US, when per…

Posted in Academic research, Books and book reviews | 19 Comments

More Tales of Two Tails

The following post is by Dennis Whittle, co-founder of GlobalGiving. Dennis blogs at Pulling for the Underdog.

An eloquent 3 year-old would have been better asking “What the dickens are you talking about?  Who is defining success?  Who says failure is bad, anyway?” – Joe

Earlier I blogged about aid cheerleaders and critics. Each camp argues about the mean outcome of aid rather than the distribution of impact among projects. Both camps agree that some…

Posted in Aid debates, Metrics and evaluation | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Me-ism, and other Reasons for Economists to Think Big about Development

Why should economists continue to work on such ambitious Big Ideas in Development — what drives Development?  Freedom? Property Rights? Human Capital? Whether you are just like ME?

One good reason is that most people are going to have their own Big Ideas anyway.  If economists and other social scientists refuse to discuss Big Ideas, then people will just base them on some random anecdote or on laughably casual empirics. (I once heard a prominent non-development economist say he understood underdevelopment after his…

Posted in Big ideas | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Cash transfers: What are they good for?

There is convincing evidence from a number of countries that cash transfers can reduce inequality and the depth or severity of poverty. For example, in Brazil a combination of cash transfer programmes accounted for 28 percent of the total fall in the Gini index (a summary measure of inequality) between 1995 and 2004….

Well-designed and implemented cash transfers help to strengthen household productivity and capacity for income generation. Small but reliable flows of transfer income

Posted in Academic research | 15 Comments

How the South was Lost

Vivek Nemana is an economics graduate student in New York University and a student worker at DRI.

UPDATE: Art Carden makes an important emphasis regarding this post and contibutes an ungated link to his paper. See comments/bottom of post.

Last week marked 150 years since the beginning of the Civil War. Victory for the North meant more than the preservation of the Union. It meant that slavery could no longer continue as a viable…

Posted in Academic research, History, Human rights | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 Comments

Qaddafi is right about some things

From the collection of his definitive writings:

Women, like men, are human beings….we must understand the natural difference between the two sexes. Women are female and men are male. According to gynaecologists women, unlike men, menstruate each month. (p. 74, M. Al Gathafi, The Green Book, World Center for the Study and Research of the Green Book, 2009 edition)

Posted in In the news | 9 Comments

She’s unemployed, he’s on welfare, benefits being cut, what future?

Taken from one of my 3 morning papers today, I forget which one (FT, WSJ, NYT):

Kate and Prince William

Posted in In the news | 5 Comments

Tea and the “narrative of Terror”

Even as [Three Cups of Tea] appears to provide a self-critical and humane perspective on terrorism, [this] article argues that it constructs a misleading narrative of terror in which the realities of Northern Pakistan and Muslim lifeworlds are distorted through simplistic tropes of ignorance, backwardness and extremism, while histories of US geopolitics and violence are erased. The text has further facilitated the emergence of a participatory militarism, whereby humanitarian work helps to reinvent the military as

Posted in Books and book reviews, Stereotypes | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

An Ignorant Perspective on Libya

Tax time prompts many of us to ponder what our tax dollars pay for. This year I thought, just a bit, about the most recent significant (if still relatively small) addition to the U.S. budget. I came to the conclusion that–for various reasons–I know next to nothing about what is happening or is likely to happen. Men and women in power know much more about the situation than I do, and have…

Posted in In the news, Military aid | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Evil values are also long-lasting

Academic development economists have become newly interested in cultural values, and one of their most common findings is that cultural differences between regions and towns last a very a long time. I confess I’m a fan of this research.

But even I was surprised when a paper at NYU’s Development Seminar yesterday showed that if your (regional) ancestors persecuted Jews in 1348-50, you were more likely to become a Nazi in the 1920s and 1930s.

Posted in Academic research | Tagged , | 27 Comments