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Category Archives: Commentary

Twitter Rudeness on The Paradox of Behavioral Economics

The behavioral economics pioneer Richard H. Thaler wrote a column in the New York Times yesterday, on how people can behave irrationally in a way that leads to not so great outcomes. The column gave examples of such problems and some suggested fixes. I posted a comment

How Not to Teach Children about Poverty

Meet Shameela, 5, a stateless child from a Thai refugee camp. Shameela’s battered shack has holes in the roof and walls. She has to share an outdoor bathroom with 100 other people. Shameela is crying while a photographer takes her portrait. Meet Harrison, 8, who

Just a few words

It’s been 238 years, and we have been fighting to realize these words ever since. Many around the world now see these words as universal and not specific to any nation, race, or culture These are words for which people risk their lives. All of us

Then and Now: Migrant Labor Edition

On the left is one of photographer and muckraker Jacob Riis’ most famous photos, “Five Cents a Spot,” taken with newly-developed flash photography technology in 1888. At the end of the 1800s and beginning of the 1900s, immigration to the US spiked, and millions of laborers from Russia, Germany, Italy,

John Kerry in Ethiopia Today Fails to Change History of Rights-Abusing Aid

UPDATE 2, May 2, 12:47pm EDT: Is it progress to have provoked a  one-on-one Twitter war with Ethiopian Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus? UPDATE: May 2, 2014  Coverage of John Kerry’s “concern” yesterday about arrested Ethiopian bloggers in US media today: none. US State Department

5 Ways to Improve Your Impact Evaluation

Impact evaluations are supposed to tell us what works in development, and a lot of time and money goes into them. It’s unfortunate, then, when they fail to report their results clearly. One of the things I found most shocking, looking through a large database

The Numbers that Drive Policy

“Evidence-based policies” are in vogue. But how do you synthesize the evidence base? People often engage in “vote counting”: reading the literature and consciously or subconsciously summing up the number of findings for a positive effect, a negative effect, or no effect for a particular

"We" Davos Men will save the world

Bill Easterly responds to Bill and Melinda Gates’ Annual Letter: Mr Gates says there has been much progress, but that “we’ll need to apply human ingenuity and act on our compassion” to keep it going. Conversely, he equates the idea that “the world is getting

Is the World Bank in chaos?

The World Bank recently surprised applicants to its 2014 Young Professionals (YP) Program with the news that the YP program is cancelled for this year.  I have been unable to find any public announcement on this strange development. The World Bank’s website calls the program,