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Author Archives: William Easterly and Laura Freschi

The plough and the veil

Why do some cultures encourage women to work, while others prefer they stay secluded in the home? Why do women in Africa command a bride price for their hand in marriage, while in northern India it is the bride’s family who must pay a dowry to the groom? Why are women secluded in the home[…..]

Posted in Academic research, Women and gender | 17 Comments

Is aid sometimes for ruling party members only?

From our newly-published blog post for the New York Review of Books: Foreign aid observers have often worried that Western aid to Africa is propping up autocratic regimes. Yet seldom has such a direct link from aid to political repression been demonstrated as in “Development without Freedom,” an extensively documented new report on Ethiopia by Human[…..]

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Democracy and freedom, In the news | 13 Comments

The transparent US government to development advocates: drop dead

Robert Strauss, a Madagascar-based consultant, filed a Freedom of Information Act request last March to find out more about the US government decision to remove Madagascar from its list of countries eligible to receive trade preferences  under AGOA. This is a decision we have blogged about many times, since it has cost thousands of Malagasy[…..]

Posted in Trade | 3 Comments

“Proofiness:” trashing back on FAO hunger numbers

Just before the big UN meetings here in New York around the Millennium Development Goals, the FAO released new world hunger numbers, and Aid Watch listed reasons to worry that these numbers were “made up.” A blog post from Oxfam GB’s Duncan Green called our post “lazy and supercilious,” with the amusing headline “Easterly trashed.”[…..]

Posted in Data and statistics | Tagged , , | 23 Comments

Lessons after the Meles speech at Columbia: Let Ethiopians debate Ethiopia

It’s sure was nice to see mainly Ethiopians vigorously participating in a debate about Ethiopia, in contrast to the usual Old White Men debating Africa. The Meles visit to Columbia had the unintentional effect of promoting this debate.  We were very happy at Aid Watch to have had the privilege of turning over our  little corner of[…..]

Posted in Democracy and freedom, In the news | Tagged , , , | 16 Comments

International Aid Worker Appreciation Day

A big part of what we do on this blog is criticize bad ideas in aid. But in our zeal to get this message across, sometimes other, important messages get lost. Today, we devote the blog to expressing our admiration and respect for aid workers. Aid work can be a tough, grueling, frustrating, even heart-breaking[…..]

Posted in History | Tagged | 15 Comments

The World Bank’s “horizontal” approach to health falls horizontal?

The history of foreign aid for global health has seen a cycling back and forth between two alternative approaches. The “vertical” approach focuses on fighting one disease at a time, and in Africa has been very effective in targeting smallpox, Guinea worm, measles, and river blindness, to name a few examples. After large initial successes[…..]

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Metrics and evaluation | Tagged , | 14 Comments

Why the World Bank supports tyrants: the Gerund Defense

World Bank Ethiopia country director Ken Ohashi has a letter in the New York Review of Books responding to Helen Epstein’s charge that the Bank is supporting tyranny (which we also blogged). Ken’s letter defends World Bank aid to Ethiopia: There are concerns about the overall governance of the country, efficiency and fairness of resource use,[…..]

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Democracy and freedom, Language, Organizational behavior | Tagged , , , | 35 Comments

Poor People Behaving Badly?

NYT columnist Nick Kristof had an uber-provocative Sunday column: …if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children’s prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by low incomes, but also by shortsighted private spending decisions by heads of households. The[…..]

Posted in Cognitive biases, In the news | Tagged , | 45 Comments

Rwanda’s coffee success story

A walking tour through some of the trendiest coffee shops in the NYU vicinity reveals a common element: creatively packaged, expensive Rwandan coffee for sale. Given our long-standing interest in 1) good coffee and 2) the potential of entrepreneurship for development, this phenomenon clearly merited investigation. The work of Karol Boudreaux, who has been following[…..]

Posted in Big ideas, Entrepreneurship, History, Trade | Tagged , , | 18 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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