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CEGA in the News

The Rational Ruffian: Why Crime Pays

Oct 8, 2008 - Shady activities like smuggling, bribery and murder would seem to be a black hole for economists, who thrive on data collected from direct observation. Yet like a pair of academic gumshoes, Edward Miguel, an associate professor of economics at the University of California, Berkeley, and Raymond Fisman, professor of social enterprise at Columbia Business School, have learned to trace the paper trails of underworld crime.

Water Technologies: What works best in poor countries?

Oct 1, 2008 - In rural areas where piped-water infrastructure is too expensive or difficult to maintain, the burden of water collection falls primarily on women and young children. Though they may walk hours, the sources they have access to are often dangerously polluted. With so many people relying on the same sources to wash dishes and clothes and to give their livestock something to drink, preserving cleanliness is a demanding challenge. Fecal contamination from surface rainwater runoff makes matters worse.

Why it's dangerous to be a witch in a recession

Sep 13, 2008 - Why did people murder suspected witches in renaissance Europe? And why do they still do so today in sub-Saharan Africa? As someone whose main source of information about witch trials is Monty Python and the Holy Grail, I was fascinated to learn that witch-burning has its own grim economics. Clearly, some of the fervor for murdering women – typically elderly widows – had cultural and religious origins.

How Economics Can Defeat Corruption

Sep 1, 2008 - What’s the dirtiest secret about corruption? Just how little we know about it. Treasuries are plundered and kickbacks are paid, but the nature and scale of the world’s shady transactions remain a mystery. Luckily, a little economic detective work is all that’s needed to expose the smuggling, cheating, and bribing that is hiding in plain sight.

Biomedical Prevention Is Key To Reducing Transmission Of HIV Infection

Aug 7, 2008 - As we have yet to develop an HIV vaccine, core preventions methods such as male condoms, male circumcision, and prophylactic antiretroviral (ARV) drugs (that prevent mother-to-child transmission) should be emphasized. These recommendations come amidst promising results that have been demonstrated with people who use oral and vaginal ARVs for both pre-exposure prophylaxis and to reduce post-exposure infectiousness.

Is Ethnic Conflict Inevitable?

Jul 1, 2008 - Jerry Muller ("Us and Them," March/April 2008) tells a disconcerting story about the potential for ethnic diversity to generate violent conflict. He argues that ethnic nationalism -- which stems from a deeply felt need for each people to have its own state -- "will continue to shape the world in the twenty-first century." When state and ethnic-group boundaries do not coincide, "politics is apt to remain ugly."

Is it Africa's Turn? Progress in the world's poorest region

May 1, 2008 - Things were certainly looking up when I last visited Busia, a small city in Kenya, in mid-2007. Busia, home to about 60,000 residents, spans Kenya’s western border with Uganda: half the town sits on the Kenyan side and half in Uganda. As befits a border town, Busia is well endowed with gas stations, seedy bars, and hotels catering to the truckers who spend the night on the way from Nairobi to Uganda.

Launch of the Center of Evaluation for Global Action

Apr 16, 2008 - The role that U.S. universities play in global development will be addressed in a panel discussion on Thursday, April 17, as part of the official launch of UC Berkeley's new Center for Evaluation for Global Action (CEGA).

Extended Forecast: Bloodshed

Apr 13, 2008 - Here’s a forecast for a particularly bizarre consequence of climate change: more executions of witches. As we pump out greenhouse gases, most of the discussion focuses on direct consequences like rising seas or aggravated hurricanes. But the indirect social and political impact in poor countries may be even more far-reaching, including upheavals and civil wars — and even more witches hacked to death with machetes.

Conditional cash for children's health

Mar 31, 2008 - Many governments have implemented conditional cash transfer programs to improve the lives of poor families through intervention in health, nutrition and education. Today we examine the success of a Mexican initiative called 'Oportunidades', which was established in 1997.

Government Assistance Linked to Better Child Development

Mar 7, 2008 - Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley found that children in low-income families in Mexico who received an extra amount of cash from a government-run conditional cash transfer program were taller, less likely to be overweight, and scored higher on motor, cognitive and language tests than children in families that received less money.

Hookworm: Shining light on a neglected disease

Mar 4, 2008 - President Bush's recent plan to spend $350 million in Africa to treat intestinal worms seems far removed from the American experience. But imagine for a moment a place where children are so infested with parasites that they are listless and weak. Tiny bloodsucking worms invade their intestines, causing anemia and holding back learning, if the kids are lucky enough to make it to school at all.

Making Economics Relevant Again

Feb 20, 2008 - It was only a decade ago that economics seemed to be an old and tired discipline. The field no longer had intellectual giants like John Maynard Keynes or Milton Friedman who were shaping public policy by the sheer force of their ideas. Instead, it was devolving into a technical discipline that was even less comprehensible than it was relevant.

The Wisest Investment We Can Make: Using Schools to Fight Neglected Tropical Diseases

Feb 20, 2008 - Today’s pledge by President Bush to invest $350 million in fighting Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) over the next 5 years is one of the wisest investments we can make in combating poverty around the world. This is particularly true when children are mass treated for common diseases through schools. While development initiatives are often driven by sentiment, school based treatment of neglected diseases is backed by rigorous evidence.

Women and HIV: A Conversation With Dr. Nancy Padian

Jan 1, 2008 - Around the globe, countless women are unable to protect themselves from HIV -- largely because they lack access to condoms or can't count on their male sex partners to use condoms consistently. Potentially life-saving HIV prevention interventions are being developed with these women in mind, including microbicides and other protective products that can be used with or without a partner's knowledge, as well as strategies for boosting women's control over how and with whom they have sex.

A handout, not a hand up: A popular approach to 'sustainable' development doesn't work, critics say

Nov 1, 2007 - In public health, many aid groups have embraced a strategy of stimulating demand for goods such as condoms, anti-malaria bed nets, and water-purification systems through education and advertising, and then selling them at very low prices through health clinics, kiosks, and itinerant vendors. One goal of this strategy, called "social marketing," is to create homegrown distribution networks that wouldn't exist if the products were simply given away.

The World's Biggest Industry

Nov 1, 2007 - In the narrow back streets of Hong Kong, you can perch on a stool in a modest stall, and slurp down a bowl of piping hot prawn wonton noodle soup for a few dollars. This bustling little eatery is the smallest of small businesses. But it's part of a vast global industry--one that, with swiftly growing appetites in countries such as China, India and Brazil, is expanding at a remarkable pace.

World Bank Puts Agriculture at Core of Antipoverty Effort

Oct 1, 2007 - For the first time in a quarter century, the World Bank’s flagship annual report on development puts agriculture and the productivity of small farmers at the heart of a global agenda to reduce poverty. Three-quarters of the world’s poor still live in the countryside. The World Development Report, released yesterday, is the first on agriculture since 1982.