Is there an Identification-Importance Trade-off?
There is a story that floats around my department about an invited seminar speaker a few years back. Someone from the audience asked the speaker how they originally thought of the research idea. The speaker answered, “Well, my co-authors and I found some exogenous variation in our data and so we began to look for…
Five Myths About Research on Violent Conflict
A forthcoming review article in a special issue of the Journal of Development Economics reviews the economics literature on violent conflict since the review of Blattman and Miguel (2010). If you do research in this area or teach development economics, the entire article is worth a read. Of more broad application, however, is the author’s listing…
My #NEUDC2018 Recap
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending the North East Universities Development Consortium (NEUDC) conference. I presented my paper on the impact of the Dodd-Frank Act in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and surrounding countries (working paper available here and presentation slides here). It was an excellent conference and a wonderful experience (not least…
What is Poverty? Who are the Poor? What Do the Poor Want?
This week I had the opportunity to give a guest lecture in the undergraduate “Microeconomics of International Development” class at the University of Minnesota. The usual professor (my advisor) was out of town and I happily agreed to substitute. It was a fun experience for me as I’ve never taught an undergraduate class before this…
Contract Farming and Causal Inference
I am excited to announce that Marc Bellemare and I have a new paper out in World Development. It is a review of the contract farming literature in developing countries. In the review we do three things. First, we briefly introduce the institution of contract farming in developing countries. Second, we review evidence from the literature…
Lotteries and Life Satisfaction – A Comment on the Cardinal Treatment of Ordinal Variables
A long standing belief, held by many, is that winning the lottery actually makes people miserable. This belief is backed up by existing research in psychology finding that lottery winners were no more satisfied with their life than people who did not win the lottery. New research suggests this belief might be wrong.
Podcasting with the Accord Research Alliance
I while back I posted about a neat new podcast run by some of the individuals who make up the Accord Research Alliance. The Accord Research Alliance is a group of people who are interested in implementing monitoring, evaluation, research, and learning initiatives in their work with faith-based international development. One of their members, Nathan…
Are economics papers too long?
I am going to try to keep this short. A recent Wall Street Journal article addresses the observation that academic papers in economics have increased in length over the years. Below is a graph that clearly shows this trend. In 1970 the average length of economics papers in “top journals” was about 16 pages. In…
Refugees and Crime: What is the Evidence?
It is hardly a surprise to anyone that the idea of some sort of a link between refugee resettlement and crime is pervasive. It was a central topic of debate in the 2016 US election. Due to the center stage of this topic, within the first week of President Trump’s term, the US refugee resettlement…
“What do you do?” “I’m a development economist”
There is a small Twitter fad going around recently, it goes something like this: “What do you do?” “I’m an economist.” “Oh, cool! I’ve been thinking about making some investments, any advise?” “I’m not that kind of economist. I’m a development economist who studies poverty alleviation in Africa.” “Ah, okay. I’ve never been to that…