Links round-up

Hi all,

Last week I opened the links with a review of the week’s carnage in cricket, which prompted a friend to send this in response, which… is actually quite an accurate reflection of what cricket looks like to most people. But at the risk of losing my audience in the intro again, what the fresh hell happened this week? First, England folded like an accordion yet again (no surprise there), then Rishabh Pant decided to casually *reverse sweep* Jimmy Anderson, bowling with a ball less than 5 overs old. And to top it all, Kieran Pollard joined Garfield Sobers as the second Windian to hit six sixes in a single over. For those with a taste for history, here is the footage of Sobers achieving the same feat in 1968, in a county match. Watch carefully – you can see him turn back to the wicketkeeper and flash his dazzling smile just before the fifth six. The sixth wound up on a nearby residential street, presumably scaring the bejesus out of a pedestrian.

  1. A few weeks ago I liked the fabulous new Dupas et. al. paper on the gender dynamics of the seminar culture in economics; Berk Ozler has now read it in detail and written a super piece on Development Impact digging deep into the data presented in the paper. It’s a hard piece to tl;dr but what he shows is that there is a lot of nuance in the data. This doesn’t mean that there aren’t some weird gender dynamics going on, but rather that there is a lot more going on as well. It also highlights that while the effort that has gone into quantifying the seminar experience has helped make certain things clear – particularly the hostility and extra questioning women get in ‘job market’ talks (that’s the equivalent of a job interview in academic econ), there is also a lot it can’t do. The tone and content of questions carry far more information than can be easily codified, as can the decision whether to ask one or not. Does silence reflect agreement, such profound disagreement that engagement isn’t worth it, or complete apathy? Not all quiet seminars are equal. Related: Olivia Campbell in LitHub on the many forgotten, suppressed and ignored women in scientific history.
  2. Gyude Moore and Vijaya Ramachandran write about the absurdity of climate change policies for Africa that would undermine climate change adaption there. The central argument is simple: methods of production that will be necessary for growth in agriculture and industry that have no scalable, affordable alternative should not be denied to Africa by rules put in by countries that have taken advantage of them already.
  3. News that French lawmakers have voted to legislate a 0.7 target (though rather different to the UK’s approach) prompted me to reflect on how the target undermined the quality of ODA in the UK, and – more importantly – upended the political economy of aid allocation in the UK. Thread here for the short of time – reflections and disagreements always welcome. Related: another CGD piece, a rilliant blog by Jocelyn Estes, Dave Evans and Sarah Rose on how USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures does ‘evidence-based innovation’ and how this island of excellence can better link to the broader swathe of USAID’s work.
  4. Live footage of my priors right now: Lucie Gadenne and co-authors write up their new paper on VoxDev, arguing that in-kind transfers can outperform cash under certain conditions. Specifically, when price fluctuations affect essential commodities the value of a cash transfer falls with price rises, but the value of in-kind transfers of the commodity rises with price; as a result the in-kind transfer can act as a kind of insurance. Importantly, these conditions are not actually all that rare in developing countries. I’m not selling my stock in cash-as-default, but like all defaults, there are times to deviate from them. Gadenne et. al. document one.
  5. I linked to Dani Rodrik’s Project Syndicate piece about the technological challenges of African industrialisation (in short, that technologies that allow productivity upgrading are not labour intensive), and this VoxEU piece with his co-authors piece goes into more detail on how they get to that conclusion. One point: the data on which we all rely to investigate these problems isn’t great; this is definitely one that if you’re interested in you want to really dive in and get in the weeds on.
  6. I missed this when it came out a month ago: Ian Leslie on how to have more productive disagreements. A long read, but well worth it.
  7. I’ve spent much of the last couple of weeks binge-watching the Muppet Show, finally freed from the vaults and returned to TV on Disney+. I’d forgotten how central music was to it, and how great some of the performances were: Debbie Harry doing One Way or Another, Elton Joh doing Crocodile Rock and Rita Moreno’s Fever.  And it wasn’t just the Muppets at it – I learnt about classical music from Looney Tunes, and this brilliant thread identifies the pieces Bugs and co were performing in some of their most famous skits. Bugs cutting Elmer Fudd’s hair to the Marriage of Figaro is as good as children’s TV gets. And if that isn’t enough nostalgia for you, the Coming to America sequel is hitting Prime today – if it’s 10% as funny as the original, that’s your weekend sorted.

Have a great weekend, everyone!


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