Even in an Easter-truncated week, the internet continues to astound me. There has been an absolute glut of brilliant economics this week, and a couple of truly glorious April Fools jokes as well – some I can’t share with you all, unfortunately, and some which I suspect may not actually be April Fool’s Jokes, in which case I shall be banging my head against the wall for a few hours.
1. Not all migration involves boats and horrific Daily Mail headlines. Justin Wolfers has a great write-up of research that shows that the economic gains to internal migration, especially for those who don’t want to move, can be enormous. This is a really interesting one, which agrees with my priors. ‘Home’ has a lot of value that has nothing to do with how much you earn or what your life-chances are; and sometimes, being forced away from ‘home’ can lead to you becoming, materially, much better off – though your overall welfare is much less clear. David McKenzie discusses this in the developing country context here. This really reinforces two things, for me: first, that productive people are the made from productive places, not vice versa; and secondly that the process of development, which involves so much change, much of it forced upon people, is incredibly distressing, though necessary in the long run.
2. Speaking of the long run, Tim Harford explains the same insight in a very different context: what happens when all those adjustments economists assume away as ‘short run phenomena’ take a generation or two to work through (never forget Keynes: “In the long run, we’re all dead”)? Well, in the case of trade it means that many people are rationally, very much against it – even if it does make a long run difference to ‘their’ (really their descendants’) standards of living. Oh, yeah – one side effect is you get a nutter running for President, babbling about ‘winning trade’.
3. A really interesting search-match model that explains both occupational segregation and differential earnings for women compared with men, summarised fairly accessibly on the CSAE website (and by fairly accessibly I mean, find an economist and ask him to translate some of this). I’m not sure I buy this. I think there are simpler explanations of the same phenomena, and in general, I tend to gravitate towards them. But this is interesting, and I probably need to think more deeply about it.
4. Hmm. I’m a China optimist, but a friend of mine, who does a lot of work with Chinese firms (as in business, he’s not a researcher) sees more trouble on the horizon than I do – not in terms of growth, per se, nor in terms of the risk of total economic collapse as the pessimists keep anticipating, but in the form of widescale labour unrest fundamentally changing the way in which Chinese firms can work. This could be good news for the rest of the world’s poor, if it leads to the ‘great outsourcing’ we keep predicting.
5. Markus Goldstein brought some of his colleagues to DFID recently to give us some excellent presentations on the most recent findings from the Gender Innovation Lab’s portfolio of research. I strongly recommend everyone who has to come to an organisation of policy makers like ours read his tips on giving a good presentation. They’re excellent. We all find our own interests fascinating. That doesn’t mean everyone else does. It’s not like I impose any of my hobbies on you, do I? By the way, if you only click on one link this week, make this it.
6. Lee gets angry. Always good.
7. Finally, a sad link and a happy one. Sad first: an amazing Lithub article about suicide notes. It opens with the last lines Virgina Woolf ever wrote, which are completely heartrending. And since there is no way I’m going to sign off on that link, here’s Taylor Swift, falling off a treadmill.
Have a great weekend, everyone!