Development economist, researcher, Assoc Prof University of Chicago. Tweet on evidence, econ policy, education, life. Tweets my personal views.
Feb 13 • 5 tweets • 1 min read
I just finished preparing my undergraduate lecture on the economics of women's empowerment and it reminded me just how radical economics is.
Objective is maximizing utility, not income, or education or anything others want you to want. Imp therefore that everyone has the opportunity, information, and capabilities to pursue what they think is important. Ie, economics and empowerment closely aligned. 2/n
Jan 3 • 16 tweets • 4 min read
While at DFID I would provide new Sec of State an "Introduction to Development". By touching on evolution of diff approaches to development I sought to explain the need for diff parts of DFID & inoculate against claims of simple fixes. Thread 1/n
Yesterday I turned that slide deck into a lecture for undergrads at @UChicago. By showing how development has fallen foul of 1 dimensional fads my aim is to explain why we will cover both macro & micro, understanding what works in improving how teachers teach & how IMF works 2/n
Dec 29, 2021 • 11 tweets • 3 min read
This fall I taught a course for grad students @UChicago on the practicalities of running randomized evaluations, based in part on my book with Kudzai Takavarasha but with updates (eg machine learning in RCTs) press.princeton.edu/books/paperbac…
Some thoughts on what I learned.. 1/n
We need more courses in universities that teach how to take the ideas we are teaching and apply them to practical issues. Many students could ace the problem sets but the final project where they had to design an RCT showed who could work through practical issues involved 2/n
Jul 5, 2020 • 15 tweets • 6 min read
In March we forecast indirect impacts of C-19 on developing countries through 3 channels: 1. global economic (eg commodity prices, capital flows); 2. containment's impact on livelihoods; 3. other secondary impacts (eg school closures).
What does the data say now? Thread.
Global demand and trade have fallen substantially. The IMF forecasts a contraction of 4.9% in GDP while WTO projects a fall in world trade of between 13 and 32% in 2020. Commodity producing emerging markets are forecast to do particularly badly.
Apr 19, 2020 • 8 tweets • 5 min read
Developing countries face extremely difficult but critically important choices about how best to respond to COVID-19 in a way that is adapted to their environment. These decisions are made harder by lack of good data. Proud that @DFID_UK is helping fill the data gap. Thread (1/8)
. @PEDL_CEPR & @CDCgroup have a call to fund data collection/studies on:
-Disruption to supply chains, especially in critical sectors (e.g. food, export sectors with continued demand)
-Income transfers to labour and firms
-Disruption to markets (2/8) bit.ly/C19Call
Nov 9, 2019 • 8 tweets • 3 min read
Just read Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo's new book: "Good Economics for Hard Times."
While they seek "better answers to our biggest problems": climate change, AI etc I was struck by their humility. They dont claim there are simple big solutions but I still come away hopeful.
Economists, they point out, are widely distrusted, partly because we have got a lot wrong. For example, we have focused too much on income vs dignity. Our work is trial and error.
"To make progess, we have to constantly go back to the facts, acknowledge our errors, and move on."
Aug 4, 2019 • 6 tweets • 4 min read
Climate change will hurt the poorest hardest because the poor live in hotter places & have fewer resources to protect themselves. @DFID_UK is therefore increasing its climate investments--both mitigation & adaptation. But what are the most effective ways to do that? Thread (1/n)
In particular, what investments are good at addressing climate change AND reducing poverty? Here are some e.g.s with strong evidence. What are your favorites? (2/n)
Jun 8, 2019 • 16 tweets • 4 min read
When I tweeted about my many research trips to #SierraLeone over last 15 years I was challenged to explain why it was good for a UK citizen to study poverty in a poor African country. Would I encourage developing country scholars to study US/UK?
This qu deserves a thread (1/n)
My moral conviction is that we should seek to do the most good we can for the most people. I dont think I owe more to those in the country where I happened to be born or where I currently live than I do to anyone else in the world. (2/n)
Apr 10, 2019 • 9 tweets • 4 min read
1. Massive investment in tubewells in #Bangladesh (incl by World Bank) is considered the poster child of development gone wrong (eg in West Wing) b/c many of the wells contained natural arsenic.
Our new @nberpubs WP shows how wrong this view is. Thread... nber.org/papers/w25729.…2. Diarrhea is 2nd largest killer of children <5. High population density and flooding make Bangladesh highly vulnerable. In 1970-90s, 8.6 million wells were dug in Bangladesh and 94% rural population moved to clean water sources. Massive achievement until arsenic was discovered.
Jan 6, 2019 • 8 tweets • 4 min read
Its been 1yr since I joined @DFID_UK. Its been fascinating, inspiring and fun! I've visited our Kenya, Somalia, Mozambique, Sierra Leone, India, DC, and Jordan offices and learned a lot.
Several lessons stand out: on influence, scale, complexity & use of evidence. Thread. 1. Helping countries spend their own money more effectively can be a great use of aid. Most spending on poverty relief is by LICs and MICs themselves but much is inefficiently spent. Aid can help pay for evidence generation, help tailor evidence to local needs and provide advice.
Nov 22, 2018 • 6 tweets • 2 min read
Back in 1974/5 Nick Stern and colleagues started long run panel data on Indian village, Palanpur in UP. Dedigned to collect detailed data on structural change as green revolution took off. Now presenting latest round of data.
Agricultural yield increased dramatically due to doubling of irrigation, more mechanization. Led to big shift in labour to non farm activity although this is very different by caste. Also very big changes in the types of labour contracts.
Sep 20, 2018 • 9 tweets • 3 min read
Our new working paper "Skills vs voice" is out with Casey @tedmiguel & Voors.
We examine how well communities are able to harness the huge investments in human capital seen across much of Africa in last 20 yrs, using 2 RCTs in #SierraLeone.
Traditional chiefs & elders who have substantial power in #SierraLeone & elsewhere are unaccountable & unrepresentative. They are also old & much so less educated than others in community.
When faced with real life challenge, can they harness that skill for community's benefit?