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Category Archives: Academic research

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 DR Congo (standard headline: a rape a minute). The study applied country-wide a 2007 estimate of…

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Economics professors’ favorite economics professors

From a newly published article here.

Before anyone on this list gets too much of a swollen head, note that everyone after the top 4 got between 5 and 10 votes out of 299 professors surveyed (there was another group at 4 votes, including a certain J. S*chs). There also seems to be a sheer name recognition effect over-representing economists that show up in the news media, kind of the same way that Donald…

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Are Lax US Gun Laws Spilling Violence into Mexico?

The question:

Do more guns cause more violence?

The experiment:

We exploit a natural experiment induced by the 2004 expiration of the U.S. federal assault weapons ban to examine how the subsequent exogenous increase in gun supply affected violence in Mexico. The expiration relaxed the permissiveness of gun sales in border states such as Texas and Arizona, but not California, which retained a pre-existing state-level ban.

The results:

Using data from mortality statistics and criminal

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Best and Worst of Official Aid 2011- new release

By Claudia Williamson, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Development Research Institute

Rhetoric on “aid effectiveness” keeps escalating, is there anything to show for it?

The past (almost) two years, Bill and I have been collecting data, combing through that data, and refining the numbers to ‘grade’ aid agencies and assess overall trends in aid practices. We waited until our paper passed peer review to release our findings. Rhetoric versus Reality: The Best and Worst of Aid Agency

Also posted in Accountability and transparency | 21 Comments

African Universities: Creating True Researchers or “Native Informers” to NGOs?

In a recent speech addressing the Makerere Institute of Social Research in Uganda, Mahmood Mamdani described the state of academic research and higher education in Africa as dominated by a “corrosive culture of consultancy.”

Today, intellectual life in universities has been reduced to bare-bones classroom activity. Extra-curricular seminars and workshops have migrated to hotels. Workshop attendance goes with transport allowances and per diem. All this is part of a larger process, the NGO-ization of

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Controlled experiments and uncontrollable humans

Bill reviewed two much-awaited books for the Wall Street Journal last weekend: Poor Economics by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo, and More Than Good Intentions by Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel.

The Good:

The books’ signal achievement is in addressing two disgraceful problems that beset humanitarian aid. The first is that the effectiveness of aid is often not evaluated at all; the second is that even when aid is evaluated, the methods are

Also posted in Books and book reviews | 4 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 expectation, rich countries as a whole were not happier than poor countries. And even stranger, in the US, when per…

Also posted in Books and book reviews | 19 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

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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…

Also posted in History, Human rights | Tagged , , , , , , | 19 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.

Tagged , | 27 Comments