USAID

World according to Blattman

Honoring Stealing from Chris Blattman’s great blog, I am reproducing some of his recent posts because they have been unusually fun & good and because I’m just too lazy to write my own blog today.
Favorite distorted maps of Africa:

The plight of the African intellectual – a moral fable

Once upon a time, there were two great lands: Donorlandia and Africa. Donorlandia had many intellectuals who opined about the solutions for Africa, who received much attention in the media of Donorlandia. Few African intellectuals received as much, or even any, such attention when they discussed their own land.

Addicted to misery?


by David Zetland, S. V. Ciriacy-Wantrup Fellow in Natural Resource Economics & Political Economy, UC Berkeley
While Bill and others were messing around with the New Yorker piece on Chinese development, they overlooked another piece in the same issue that may be even more significant (!) than debates over China’s growth.

Another fake numbers problem on a topic Americans (and NYT) care about even more than world hunger

In the wake of Aid Watch’s posts on made up world hunger numbers, the NYT revealed today another scandalous made up numbers problem in another area:
{The methodology} is vilified by professional mathematicians …. {which} turned {the numbers’ creators} into the laughingstock of the numbers community.
It is bad enough that one analytical mathematician, the U.C. Irvine professor Hal S. Stern, has called for the statistical community to boycott participation…

Can the story on US food aid get any worse?

Hundreds of thousands of malnourished children are receiving poor quality and even harmful food aid because of the slow introduction of more nutritious alternatives, a medical charity has warned.
The US is continuing to donate directly to relief agencies fortified flour mixes of corn and wheat with soya that do not meet international standards agreed in the 1960s…
…older corn-soy blend (CSB) pre-mixed foods donated by the US contained insufficient micronutrients, anti-nutrients that interfered with child absorption, no dairy proteins that were important for growth, and were bulky, limiting intake by young children with small stomachs.
see the full story in the FT.

Millennium Villages: don’t work, don’t know or don’t care?

UPDATE 10/16 12:25PM:  Tim Harford in FT also covers Clemens and Demombynes paper and gets response from Sachs.
In a new paper, Michael Clemens and Gabriel Demombynes ask:
When is the rigorous impact evaluation of development projects a luxury, and when a necessity?
The authors study the case of the Millennium Villages, a large, high-profile, project originally meant to demonstrate that a package of technology-based interventions in education, health and agriculture could lastingly propel people living in the poorest African villages out of poverty within five (now ten) years.

Millennium Villages: don’t work, don’t know or don’t care?

In a new paper, Michael Clemens and Gabriel Demombynes ask:
When is the rigorous impact evaluation of development projects a luxury, and when a necessity?
The authors study the case of the Millennium Villages, a large, high-profile, project originally meant to demonstrate that a package of technology-based interventions in education, health and agriculture could lastingly propel people living in the poorest African villages out of poverty within five (now ten) years.

When Fat Cats Bet on Fat Tails

UPDATE 9:30am get me rewrite! Readers ask for more clarity on what my point is, so a little added rewriting.
There has been a lot of passionate moral debate about US income inequality (Greg Mankiw recently got a torrent of abuse for the horrific sin of admitting that he was a rich person).  But you have to UNDERSTAND income inequality before you CONDEMN it. By the end of this post, I’ll suggest a different angle.

Technology history don’t lie

Yours truly has a crazy new article in the latest issue of Foreign Policy on why no-tech ancient civilizations still can’t catch up, based on my published research with Diego Comin and Erick Gong. But all is not doom and gloom, you just have to learn the right lessons from technology history:

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