Links round-up

Hi all,

 In absolutely appalling news, Giannis Antetokounmpo (you can call him Giannis if that surname frightens you, but I’ll judge you and assume you’ve got no idea how to pronounce mine) has been dumped from the playoffs. This is AWFUL. I was counting on the sheer insanity of watching a man who can dunk the ball while his feet are still touching the floor to distract me from the near-constant abuse of fact and reason that the election has heralded, but alas it was not to be. At least fans of the improbable can still enjoy Misbah-ul-Haq, 63, winning test matches by biffing consecutive sixes.

 1.       Dave Evans reads a lot, as I never tire of mentioning here. He’s also a particularly meticulous researcher. So, when he read Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie suggesting that if a child doesn’t take to reading one could pay them as an incentive, he went to the literature to see if there was any evidence to support that it’s a good idea. Michael Sandel would argue that the effectiveness is irrelevant, as it debases the deeper value of reading, but Dave doesn’t go down that route. Instead, he discovers that for some kids, payment does help – but it seems to be the kids that already want to read who benefit the most. Monetary incentives simply deepen the reading inequality. Sort of related – the books that made writers want to become writers.

2.       I’ve linked to various bits of coverage of this so many times, but an op-ed by our Chief Economist in the NYT deserves a link. Stefan and Chris Blattman did a fascinating RCT on the effect of factory jobs on the poor who take them on, expecting to discover that they were a reliable route out of poverty. Instead, they found that reliability isn’t really part of it. Industrialisation is almost certainly the path that leads an economy into higher prosperity and the wealth we all want to see developing countries achieve. But it’s a damn costly process, and as they note: “workers seem to share few of the benefits but a heavy burden of the risks — a burden borne by the desperate and the uninformed.” Chris once described this paper as ‘Radnomizing Marx’, and that’s sort of what it did – but the results provided support for another mid-19th Century visionary, Elizabeth Gaskell, whose North and South had the same findings Blattman and Dercon did, but preceded them by around 170 years.

3.       Berk Ozler criticises a paper for inaccurate reporting of its results. In the abstract. It’s a very good blog, and also worth reading the comments. He suggests many of the difficulties of the study could have been avoided in the design stage.

4.       I really liked this: given the increasingly integrated nature of global production, shouldn’t that mean that inflation is increasingly a global phenomenon rather than a local one? This research finds some evidence to support this idea, and also reinforces my belief that a backlash against globalisation is doomed in the long run. The world economy has just changed too much to undo.

5.       Another great paper via VoxEU on the effect of migration on child height, which finds that migrating to the UK removes the effects of stunting from Indian children in a way that growth in India still hasn’t done, an oblique way of making the point that development is more than a change in incomes; it also involves a change in the entire infrastructure that informs the way we live.

6.       This week in unsurprising research results: people who took acid are more likely to be liberal, and past cocaine use has no such predictive power. Having read American Psycho, this seems completely plausible.

7.       Lastly, some stunning photos (and text!) about leukitic ravens in Canada, a population suffering from a rare genetic disorder that renders them entirely white – and ethereally beautiful.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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