Links round-up

Hi all,

I’m on a day of much-needed annual leave, but England just took the last wicket and I was logging on to check my e-mails anyway, so I thought I should deliver your weekly shot of marginalia in any case. It’s been (another) eventful week in the UK, and looking out onto the random world of internet geekery is as good a respite as any.

1.       I can’t believe I missed this, and though it’s got nothing to do with either development or economics, here is The Economist making the case for LeBron James being the greatest basketball player ever. These kinds of comparison exercises are always little more than pub-conversation fodder, but what I like about it is the way it uses both stats and narrative to make its case.

2.       Back to development for a moment – I’ve made this point before, but the World Bank’s country income classifications (lower income, lower middle income and so on) are somewhat arbitrary and a little bit odd. They might be the best we have now, but Lindsey Dolan at CGD breaks down some of the complexities nicely here.

3.       How often do you get an article about cash transfers that opens with a 19th Century painting? Damien de Walque does it, though, with a good discussion of the level of detail that we need to consider when deciding whether a cash transfer should go to a mother or a father: “While giving cash to mothers seems slightly, but not significantly, better for education outcomes, giving cash to fathers leads to significantly better nutritional outcomes during years when the harvest has been poor.” As ever, the standard wisdom masks a lot of nuance.

4.       This is very interesting: Tim Harford takes Brexit as a starting point to consider how best to influence public discourse with analysis and facts, drawing on behavioural economics and the research of a Yale law professor. Highly recommended, key sentence: “Ultimately, there is no substitute for sustained public engagement — a lesson scientists have learnt the hard way.”

5.       Bad science and tiny samples, via Chris Blattman. Important, and related to the previous link. Gah.

6.       Directly contradicting my first link this week, here’s FiveThirtyEight saying farewell to Tim Duncan, the greatest two-way basketball player in the modern era. I remember watching him as a teenager, many moons ago and being amazed. That feeling has never really disappeared.

7.       And finally, I love Letters of Note, and this one from EB White is particularly brilliant: “Man’s curiosity, his relentlessness, his inventiveness, his ingenuity have led him into deep trouble. We can only hope that these same traits will enable him to claw his way out.”

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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