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Author Archives: William Easterly and Laura Freschi

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[…..]

Posted in Meta | 83 Comments

From Hell to Prosperity

A graphic showing striking disparities income among religions in America, from the NYT Magazine: Bill switched from childhood Methodist to adult Episcopalian in an attempt to boost income. Did that likely work? Barro and McCleary 2006 argue the relationship goes from income to religiosity (as measured by church attendance, personal prayer, and belief in hell[…..]

Posted in Data and statistics, In the news | 19 Comments

Development Social Science in medical journals: diagnosis is caveat emptor

Aid Watch has complained before about shaky social science analysis or shaky numbers published in medical journals, which were then featured in major news stories. We questioned creative data on stillbirths, a study on health aid, and another on maternal mortality. Just this week, yet another medical journal article got headlines for giving us the number of women raped in the[…..]

Posted in Academic research | 19 Comments

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[…..]

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

Inception Statistics

We’ve had a lot of very heated debates on this blog about the uses and abuses of global statistics—most recently on estimates of poverty, maternal mortality, and hunger—with a certain senior Aid Watch blogger inciting the ire of many (not least those who produce the figures) by calling them “made-up.” A new study in the[…..]

Posted in Academic research, Data and statistics, Global health | 19 Comments

Aid Watch Government Shutdown Edition

UPDATE 12 noon: Comments show today we are in one of those dysfunctional audience relationship posts: we assume you can read our minds, and you assume we are idiots (see end of post). Here at Aid Watch we are definitely NOT interested in contributing to the partisan diatribe gaining force on BOTH sides of the aisle.  We[…..]

Posted in In the news | 16 Comments

UN Revealed to be Gigantic 66-year-old Hoax

“I can’t believe it lasted this long,” said “US Ambassador to the UN” Susan Rice, laughing, “Who would really believe that there is this magical agency that would, like, be responsible for solving all the problems in the whole world?  That nobody else can solve? Or even wants to?” “I really thought it would come[…..]

Posted in Satire and parodies | Tagged , | 16 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,[…..]

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

The First Law of Development Stats: Whatever our Bizarre Methodology, We make Africa look Worse

UPDATE: Just received notice of drastic punishment for this post: invited to join HDR 2011 Advisory Panel I’ve complained previously about how design of the UN Millennium Development Goals make sub-Saharan Africa look worse than it really is. Now I realize that UNDP’s new Human Development Report (HDR) does the same thing. Not alleging any[…..]

Posted in Data and statistics | Tagged | 30 Comments

QDDR: we can hardly contain our excitement

Aid Watch is as excited as everyone else to get a leaked, advance summary of the Quadrennial Development and Diplomacy Review, (HT Josh Rogin at Foreign Policy) which is a critical part of the US government process to set its priorities  on Development. We love to seize occasions where we can be more positive to reward positive things[…..]

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Grand plans and aid targets, Maps, Military aid | 14 Comments
  • 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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