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Aid Watch blog ends; New work on development begins

Today, after two years and four months, we end the experiment that was the Aid Watch blog.

We think the experiment was a success. We’ve had a great time blogging here. Thank you all for reading and writing back, and to our wonderful guest bloggers, for helping to make Aid Watch a source for way-outside-the-Beltway commentary on aid. Your response continues to exceed our expectations.

Some of you may be surprised. This was not a sudden decision; we have been talking it over with a few others for some time now.

The simple reason for ending the blog is that we want to free up our own time for writing longer and more substantive pieces, both academic and non-academic, on development.

The blog is a hungry mouth that always wants to be fed, and the longer projects we’d like to take on don’t fit in with those constraints.

Economists are professionally trained to be wary of diminishing returns to any one activity, and to be entrepreneurial about starting new activities. Although we’ll still write about aid, we plan to move away from aid criticism as our main focus, and put more emphasis on the high-stakes development debates going on now. We still believe that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid, but, as we’ve always known, there’s a lot more to development than aid.

Fortunately for us all, there are many other good blogs on aid and development that have sprung up since we started Aid Watch, from smart establishment blogs like Development Impact at the World Bank, to lonely aid workers blogging from Malawi (check the sidebar for our recommendations).

The blog will stay at its current web address, and all the archives will remain available and searchable. Check for updates on our work at the DRI web site.

Signing off for now,

Bill and Laura


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  1. D. Watson wrote:

    I propose a novel RCT. I will close down highly influential development blogs on random dates to determine a) how this impacts future research output (quantity and quality) of the chief contributing bloggers, b) how this impacts development-awareness and snark quotient test scores of graduate students and aid workers, and c) how these combined factors impact “development” broadly interpreted.

    … I didn’t mean it had to be YOU! Nevertheless, I will do my best to achieve rigor with your mortis and evaluate impacts transparently.

    Posted May 19, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Permalink
  2. Doug Norton wrote:

    Thank you for all the education and insight.

    Posted May 19, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  3. JR wrote:

    What are the metrics by which you gauge the blog as a success?

    Posted May 19, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Permalink
  4. David shea wrote:

    Thank you, will continue to follow your progress and gleen insights where I can. 😀

    Posted May 19, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
  5. Trent Eady wrote:

    Thanks for everything! Much love.

    Posted May 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm | Permalink
  6. Dennis wrote:


    Posted May 19, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Permalink
  7. Gabo wrote:

    Bill, Laura. This is a big mistake and I ask that you reconsider. The impact and reach you have with the blog on this day and age is more real than anything you will have With “substantive ” pieces, which frankly few people are going to read. You are also coalescing and forming a movement, enhancing the social capital of the people who work in this field. It’s a movement you have built and you got a great great thing going. I understand that it’s labor intensive but you must must figure out a way to keep this alive.

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 12:01 am | Permalink
  8. Jacob AG wrote:

    @Gabo, maybe someone at DRI, a guest blogger, an up-and-coming economist, or someone else, will pick up the torch..?

    It’s 12:44am EST, and there is no post on AidWatch… I hope the sun still rises.

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 12:44 am | Permalink
  9. NickG wrote:

    This has been a fantastic resource for anyone interested in development economics. As sad as I am to see it go, thanks for your contribution

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 1:06 am | Permalink
  10. Thank you for the precious posts. I will continue to read you guys. Good luck for your future work!

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 7:35 am | Permalink
  11. Steven Synyshyn wrote:

    Hey – what is going on? I follow a few aid blogs and this is the third I’ve read of shutting down/ceasing postings for a while or indefinitely. First I read of Good Intentions are Not Enough taking a break (for how long, who knows?), then Tales from the Hood’s indefatigable J informs us he is taking a “permanent vacation” and now Bill and Laura are packing it in. I fear for Blood and Milk. Was there some “State of Aid Blogs” conference or summit I was not invited to? I realize it is the responsibility of the reader stay well-informed and make time for research, however it’s difficult for the less steeped to frame questions and truly understand the milieu of issues at work in any given development issue. I lament for the future of informed aid debate without these plain-spoken blogs, namely Aid Watch (in fact, my “gateway drug” into the aid blogosphere).

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 9:13 am | Permalink
  12. ST wrote:

    Say it isn’t so! What a shame. Many thanks and good wishes…

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 10:01 am | Permalink
  13. Dominic Elson wrote:

    Hey, leave the long reports that no one reads to the rest of us! Can’t we have a bit of specialisation?
    This blog is way too important to be cast aside like a threadbare teddybear in favour of the shiny barbi doll in her policy briefs.

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 10:09 am | Permalink
  14. Rose wrote:

    Many thanks for your insight and for sharing your expertise with us.

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 11:03 am | Permalink
  15. Chris wrote:

    What’s next, the Blattman signs off to child rear and get tenure?!

    Posted May 20, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Permalink
  16. Bill wrote:

    Very sorry to see it end. Thanks for the great work and blessings for the future.

    Posted May 21, 2011 at 7:17 am | Permalink
  17. Blair wrote:

    … and you’re asking us to believe that it’s a complete coincidence that this happens on the day of the Rapture? How dumb do you think we are? I’m going first!!

    Posted May 21, 2011 at 9:45 am | Permalink
  18. Rebecca wrote:

    Loved your blog. Thanks for all your hard work over these past two years.

    Best of luck to you in the future!

    Posted May 21, 2011 at 10:47 am | Permalink
  19. Michael wrote:

    As a budding econ blogger, this place has been a great source of inspiration and revealing links. I love the work everyone has done here, and I will continue to reference archived links in the future.

    Thanks again for all the great reading.

    Posted May 22, 2011 at 8:14 am | Permalink
  20. Dan Kyba wrote:

    You have had a good run, but all things must pass. Good luck with your future projects and your efforts to make the world a tiny bit better when you leave it than when you found it … and, of yes … ‘thanks for all the fish’.

    Posted May 22, 2011 at 9:30 pm | Permalink
  21. Scott G wrote:

    Thanks for creating a great blog. I enjoyed a number of your posts and links. Look forward to seeing what you do next.

    Posted May 24, 2011 at 12:27 am | Permalink
  22. Peter wrote:

    Sad. A great blog that started me on a collection of sources of information, that I now read daily. So much better than reading the donors’ self-congratulatory reports…One less blog to read, but I’ll really miss this one…

    Posted May 24, 2011 at 6:37 am | Permalink
  23. adam roberts wrote:

    Feels like being dumped. *devastated* .

    Posted May 24, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Permalink
  24. David Zetland wrote:

    Well shit. That’s a pity. Loved the blog, and I thought it was WAY more effective than most academic work (even your stuff, Bill :) — I hope that you keep up the debate in some format.

    Thanks for the 2.33 years! :)

    Posted May 25, 2011 at 11:37 am | Permalink
  25. M wrote:

    I agree that Bill and Laura should think about how they can get their message out to the mild-mannered students, bloggers, aid workers and public servants who get nuggets of wisdom via mass-communication. The gap between critical aid watchers and those who would donate a million t-shirts to Africa is still quite large…

    Posted May 26, 2011 at 9:08 am | Permalink
  26. Ellie wrote:

    Sad to see you go, but I certainly respect the decision. Hope it is freeing for you to get to work on deeper, longer projects.

    Posted May 26, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Permalink
  27. Rukmini wrote:

    This has been a valuable resource for me and I’m sorry to see it end. Good luck, Bill and Laura.

    Posted May 30, 2011 at 3:57 am | Permalink

6 Trackbacks

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  • About Aid Watch

    The Aid Watch blog is a project of New York University's Development Research Institute (DRI). This blog is principally written by William Easterly, author of "The Elusive Quest for Growth: Economists' Adventures and Misadventures in the Tropics" and "The White Man's Burden: Why the West's Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good," and Professor of Economics at NYU. It is co-written by Laura Freschi and by occasional guest bloggers. Our work is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.

    "Conscience is the inner voice that warns us somebody may be looking." - H.L. Mencken

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