[Book Review] Experimental Conversations

Randomized control trials (RCTs) have taken development economics, and even the broader discipline of economics, by storm. Whether this is “good” or “bad” or just another methodological “fad” largely depends on one’s perspective on development and empirical science. Timothy Ogden, the Managing Director of NYU’s Financial Access Initiative, has documented a number of these perspectives from not…

The Cardinal Treatment of Ordinal Variables

Last weekend, I came across a paper published in the European Economic Review by Carsten Schroder and Shlomo Yitzhaki entitled “Revising the Evidence for Cardinal Treatment of Ordinal Variables” (2017). I found the paper to be well-written, intuitive, and important. Although there are no direct policy implications of this paper, papers like these need to be…

Hope as a “Gustibus Multiplier” in Development Economics

What is a “Gustibus Multiplier”? That is what I thought when I read the title of Michael Carter’s recent paper in Agricultural Economics entitled, “What farmers want: the ‘gustibus multiplier’ and other behavioral insights on agricultural development“. It turns out, De gustibus non est disputandum is a Latin phrase meaning “In matters of taste, there can be no…

Machine Learning in Economics… A Fad?

Over the holiday weekend (in the United States) The Economist ran an article with the title: “Economists are Prone to Fads, and the Latest is Machine Learning“. As I am currently taking a class on ‘Big Data for Economists’, this article peaked my interest. The following chart was shown to visualize some recent trends within…

More Evidence Psychological Constraints Matter

A really nice article, recently published in the journal Food Policy, just crossed my desk… erm… email inbox. “Explaining the Performance of Contract Farming in Ghana: The Role of Self-Efficacy and Social Capital” (pay-wall, sorry). Contract farming is the practice of extending business agreements between suppliers (i.e. smallholder farmers) and buyers (i.e. supermarkets, food processors,…

A Quantitative Measure of Hope: A working paper

Over the past year an a half I’ve been working as a Research Assistant with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Food Security Policy – Burma. Housed at Michigan State University, the project is generously funded by USAID’s Bureau of Food Security. It has been a tremendous experience. I’ve traveled to Myanmer twice (see…

Mini-Summaries from MIEDC 2016

A recent trend at nerdy development conferences is for someone to round up and post summaries of the selected papers and presentations. (For example, here is David Evans summarizing the latest CSAE conference.) I think this trend generates a tremendous resource for both folks who were unable to attend the conference or folks who did…