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CEGA in the News

Encouraging our educators

Sep 13, 2009 - The United Progressive Alliance’s deficit hasn’t been only a fiscal one: After more than 100 days, there has been a gap between lofty campaign promises and what it has actually delivered. But in one area in particular, it has gotten the ball rolling quickly: education reform. Union human resource development minister Kapil Sibal deserves praise for making actual, substantive changes to India’s education system.

Gates Foundation names Stefano Bertozzi as new director of HIV programs

Aug 27, 2009 - Dr. Stefano Bertozzi is joining the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation next week as its new HIV director in the global health program. An expert in health economics, he will manage grants in HIV vaccine development, biomedical prevention research, diagnostics, development and resistance monitoring, and strategies for introduction and scaling-up of interventions, the foundation said.

"Africa's Turn" for Economic Growth May Continue Amid Global Economic Crisis

Jul 21, 2009 - Earlier this month, the G-8 pledged $20 billion to fight increasingly widespread hunger in Africa. Next week, USAID will begin emergency food assistance to 2.8 million people in Zimbabwe. But at least one economist is cautiously optimistic about Africa’s ability to maintain the modest but steady economic progress it achieved before the global economic downturn.

Finding India's Missing Teachers

Jul 18, 2009 - A teacher-less classroom is an all-too-familiar scene for primary school students in many low-income countries. In 2006, a study by economists from the World Bank and Harvard University turned up disastrously low teacher attendance in six such countries, including India, where on any given day 55 percent of all classrooms either get a teacher who is present but not teaching or no teacher at all.

First Randomized Trial of Microsavings

Jul 3, 2009 - Pascaline Dupas and Jonathan Robinson, both rising stars in economics, performed the study. They did so outside the big evaluation houses, J-PAL and IPA, and have the (small) budget and sample to prove it. Their sample contains about 200 people, compared to nearly 7,000 households in J-PAL’s microcredit evaluation. Nevertheless, the paper strikes this amateur economist (have I mentioned I practice without a license?) as creative, careful, and seminal.

The premise that the poorest countries cannot grow ignores a decade of modest successes

Jul 1, 2009 - Paul Collier lays out a detailed vision for how foreign aid and intervention might promote economic progress in the world’s poorest regions, areas populated by what he has called the “bottom billion.” The key problem is that: A group of about 60 small, impoverished, post-colonial countries...are structurally unable to provide the public goods...that are critical for decent quality of life and imperative for economic development. They have diverged from the rest of mankind.

The Development Dilemma: Can parking tickets explain why poor countries are poor?

May 1, 2009 - Many economists think corruption is a rational response to irrational incentives. The World Bank’s “Doing Business” database lists 40 countries, from Iraq to Ethiopia, in which legally acquiring the necessary permissions to export a single standard cargo container takes more than one month. The more difficult it is to do something legally, the larger the temptation to do it illegally. Small wonder that in developing countries, few people make more money than customs officials.

Higher pay leads to better politicians

Apr 29, 2009 - Politicians have long argued that if you pay peanuts you will get monkeys running the country. Now there is research to back the theory that lifting pay rates for MPs improves the quality of political representation. A paper published by the US National Bureau of Economic Research found higher remuneration for politicians in Brazil led to the election of legislators with higher levels of education and greater professional and political experience.

Influencing Sex, with Information

Mar 12, 2009 - Abstinence programs do not have an impressive track record. That’s true in this country as well as in Africa, where the high H.I.V. rates often make the consequences of unprotected teenage sex much worse. But a new research paper by Pascaline Dupas, an economist at U.C.L.A., finds that a recent field experiment did have some success in reducing teenage sex and, presumably, H.I.V. contraction.

What lessons can schools learn from streaming by ability?

Jan 3, 2009 - Monday is a big day in the Harford household: my oldest daughter will start school. That is a cue for the full spectrum of middle-class parental emotions: nostalgia for the toddler she once was; pride at seeing her reach a new stage of independence; and, of course, anxiety that the school will not be good enough for our little darling. Will the teacher be distracted by the need to teach the class skills she already has?

Finding tools to fight corruption in emerging Southeast Asian economies

Dec 16, 2008 - To understand the challenge faced by emerging Southeast Asian economies struggling to shake off a corrosive culture of corruption, you can start by counting the parking tickets issued to foreign diplomats. The list of the worst parking offenders illustrates that many Asian nations do very poorly in upholding the rule of law. Analysts say the fact that national corruption patterns persist even among diplomats in a foreign city suggests that a solution requires more than just better law enforcement.

Economists Explain Their Forensic Approach

Dec 2, 2008 - Columbia Business School’s Raymond Fisman and University of California, Berkeley’s Edward Miguel are development economists who are at the forefront of what’s being dubbed “forensic economics.” Relying on anomalies in everything from Indonesian stock prices to New York City parking tickets to figures on antique imports and exports, they’ve been able uncover the tracks of wrongdoers.

The Science of the Future of War

Nov 21, 2008 - Today's most brutal wars are also the most primal. They are fought with machetes in West Africa, with fire and rape and fear in Darfur, and with suicide bombs and improvised explosive devices in Israel, Iraq, and elsewhere. But as horrifying as these conflicts are, they are not the greatest threat to our survival as a species. We humans are a frightening animal.

Senegal: Weighing the benefits of solar stoves

Nov 19, 2008 - Researchers have sold over 1,000 solar stoves to rural families in Senegal in a bid to prove that the ovens can improve child and maternal health and reduce household fuel consumption. Many institutions including the World Health Organization (WHO) have backed these claims but to date no scientific evidence has been gathered. CEGA is undertaking the first study of solar stoves, evaluating the impact of the stoves on the lives of the families who bought them six months ago.

Giving schoolchildren a chance

Nov 17, 2008 - Ask any parent or teacher why children miss school, and it is unlikely the answer will be worms. Yet the World Health Organization estimates that 400 million children in the world are affected by intestinal worms. Infected children suffer from listlessness, diarrhoea and anaemia. This proves to be a silent, unspoken barrier to schooling in India. Kids miss school, fall back in their studies and ultimately drop out.

Review: Economic Gangsters

Nov 1, 2008 - Economics explains everything, again: this time, global corruption and poverty, in a highly readable book by two "development economists". Businesses with political ties to the Suharto regime in Indonesia lost stock value after worrying news about Suharto's health, while others didn't. There are occasional casual sops to the idea that "cultural beliefs do matter" as well, which I guess will be news to no one but other economists.

Extra Cash from Government Program Linked to Higher Risk of Adult Obesity

Oct 23, 2008 - While a poverty-alleviation program launched by the Mexican government that has been modeled in the United States and around the world has led to improved health and cognition outcomes in children, a new study by University of California, Berkeley, researchers says that the cash component of the program has a downside for adults.

How to Prevent War and Famine

Oct 14, 2008 - With the U.S. financial system in unprecedented turmoil and the economy moving toward recession, ordinary Americans wake up to daily panic about their mortgages and mutual funds. But while we fret for our financial security, the volatility in global asset prices and commodities resulting from the U.S. financial crisis will have global reach, threatening the very survival of Africa's poorest villagers.