Evidence from the Guardian UK university ranking, which scores universities both on their value-added (final exam scores minus pre-university exam scores – a measure of how much students learnt at university), spending, and student-staff ratio. aaaand surprise surprise, spending looks totally uncorrelated with learning.Smaller class sizes do seem to be doing something (small sample sizes, correlation not causation, yadda yadda), which makes you wonder what the high-spend, large class-size universities are spending all their money on.
Author Archives: Roving Bandit
These charts by Branko Milanovic deserve looking at again and again. A few years ago Adrian Wood told my entire economics class to print off the Angus Maddison long-run world GDP chart and stick it on our walls so we’d look at it every day. I’d suggest adding the Milanovic chart alongside it.I was struck earlier today (whilst listening to the latest Development Drums) how these charts could be used to illustrate the comparison between anti-poverty programs and National development that Lant talks about.Projects to increase an individual’s income in developing countries can help people get a better livelihood amongst those available in that country, but they probably aren’t going to change the overall set of opportunities facing people living in a country. If you want to earn yourself rich, you need to sell stuff to rich people – that means exporting goods or services to rich countries (trade), moving to a rich country to sell your labour (migration), or encouraging rich people to come visit your country (tourism).Graphically, the most successful ever anti-poverty program might at best move a bunch of people from point A to point B. By comparison, migrating lets someone move from point C to point D
“We—the philanthro-niks—want more philanthropy to be strategic. Our fundamental challenge is this: that social change is hard and calls for slow thinking, but most donors will only think fast. It therefore falls to us to do the work that Thaler describes: get the evidence, and make it easy.”Caroline Fiennes in the SSIR
Interesting new paper on the impact of working for Teach for America on outcomes for the teacher (with causal identification from an application discontinuity) by Will Dobbie and Roland Fryer. Participating in TFA increases racial tolerance, makes individuals more optimistic about the life prospects of poor children, and makes them more likely to work in educationI’d love to see a study like this for voluntourism in developing countries. HT: Kevin Lewis
Some interesting ideas from Alex Evans about the importance of building a movement “Rich and I set out the need for a different theory of influence. Many of us who work in the fight for development, justice, and sustainability have I think been feeling the limits of theories of change that rely primarily on ‘insider lobbying’. We take that here as our starting point for asking what an alternative approach might look like: one that places much more emphasis on how we build new grassroots coalitions, transform values, and tell each other much deeper stories about where we are, how we got here, where we might choose to go next, and who we really are.”and then what those movements should doWe argue that it starts with the changes that all of us need to make in our own lives. This is partly because of the direct impact that such changes can have, of course, but we think the main issue here is something to do with the quality of intention that movements exemplify. Wherever movements not only demand but live out the change they want to see in the world, there’s a raw power there that can exert the kind of non-linear effect on politics that progressives so urgently want to see.and from the full reportIn practice, we think there are five areas that each of us needs to think about, which we describe in more detail below:1.
This is amazing: an actual real cartoon history of the latest round of civil war in South Sudan, words by Alex de Waal. (via Tom)
The UK Labour Party has a new pamphlet out with ideas for future development policy, labelled “Beyond Aid.”How does it measure up?CGD looks at 7 components of “Commitment to Development” in the annual index; aid, trade, migration, security, environment, technology, and finance.Labour’s pamphlet talks extensively about 2 of the 6 non-aid components of the index: the environment and security.There is next to nothing on trade, migration, technology, and finance.Out of 26 countries, the UK ranks 4th overall which is pretty good. Though that varies a lot between the components; Aid (4), Trade (7), Finance (2), Migration (13), Environment (11), Security (7), Technology (20).There’s more to International Development than Aid, but also more than climate change and security.
Apparently I missed this, but a book I contributed to back in 2012 along with colleagues at OPM was published by Routledge in October last year, edited by Mthuli Ncube and Charles Leyeka Lufumpa at the African Development Bank. It’s a snip on Amazon at only £27.99, or you can read it on Google Books here.I’m not sure which is my favourite review;”This book is uplifting, methodologically and intellectually sound, and rich in policy prescriptions. A must read for researchers, educators, policy makers, and global partners. As AERC (www.aercafrica.org) Executive Director, I am heartened by this policy and intellectually rich book”–Lemma W. Senbet, Professor and Executive Director, African Economic Research Consortium and The William E
The biggest cash transfer programme in the world continues apace, as subsidies for fuel in India which used to be paid to fuel companies are being redirected into consumer’s bank accounts.Continuing the push to extending coverage under the Aadhaar program, targeting enrollment for 1 billion Indians; as of early February, 757 million Indians had been bio-identified and 139 [million] Aadhaar linked bank accounts created;…The heady prospect for the Indian economy is that, with strong investments in state capacity, that Nirvana today seems within reach. It will be a Nirvana for two reasons: the poor will be protected and provided for; and many prices in India will be liberated to perform their role of efficiently allocating resources in the economy and boosting long run growth.From India’s recently published 2014-2015 Economic Survey led by Arvind Subramanian, the government’s Chief Economic Advisor (and on leave from CGD) HT: Vinayak Uppal
Giles Wilkes (whose FT leaders really are good) nails something profound;”I’ve been trying to work out what has been stressing me these last, ooh, 25 years and how to adjust my life accordingly. I don’t want stress, if possible. There have been obvious triggers: [insert impressive CV here]. But a constant thread that laces through all these eras is a pressing need to have read what I thought needed reading. I cannot actually recall a time when a nagging sense of not having read enough didn’t weigh on me.
A gloriously unhinged rant from South Sudan’s information Minister. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad (via: Dustin Johnson). In remarks yesterday, Minister of Information and Broadcasting Michael Makuei slammed not only the United Nations but also local media houses, East African ceasefire monitors, and Human Rights Watch, which he described as an organization of blood-sucking liars. … Makuei said he told [Al Jazeera correspondent] Adow that he was “lucky” not to have been imprisoned “like the man in Egypt” — a reference to Al Jazeera correspondent Peter Greste.
In 2013 the deaths of 366 migrants at sea off the coast of the Italian island Lampedusa caught the headlines. Last week another 300 died. Last year, it was an estimated total of 3,500. European governments, including the British one, are opposed to rescue missions on the grounds that this creates a “pull-factor” encouraging more people to make the trip.
Stuart Broad, the England cricketer, tweeted:I’ve heard if you earn minimum wage in England you’re in the top 10% earners in the World. #stay #humble — Stuart Broad (@StuartBroad8) January 27, 2015which apparently provoked a backlash. Renowned economist Zoe Williams added her insightful analysis thus:”The cricketer’s minimum wage tweet shows numeracy is not his strong point. … Money doesn’t mean anything out of context: its value is determined by what you can buy with it.
A new book from the co-Director of the Future of the UN Development System (FUNDS) project (can’t believe they didn’t call it the “FUN” project). Mark Malloch-Brown (former UN deputy-secretary-general and UNDP administrator) says;”There is no better compilation of insights about the UN’s lack of cohesion, growing turf battles, declining capacity, clumsy implementation, and cooptation by bilateral and private interests of the family of organizations that calls itself—somewhat awkwardly—the UN development system.”Ouch.One of the inputs to the book is a global perceptions survey of the UN system, summarised thus:Four views emerge across the survey: • The UN’s development functions are less crucial than such other functions as security, humanitarian action, and setting global norms with teeth. • The UN’s development organizations are still mostly relevant, but some are not particularly effective. • The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF consistently receive the highest rankings among operational agencies; regional commissions receive the lowest rankings. • The UN faces two major institutional challenges: poor internal organization and the predominance of earmarked funding.What the survey misses, and what is really crucial, is that what we should care about is not just the effectiveness of organisations but the cost-effectiveness, or value for money