Detailed measurement and evidence of what works and what doesn't in development is one of our most powerful weapons in the battle against global poverty. We need to know what works, and keep on doing it.
Leading microfinance researchers including several IPA affiliates write in The Indian Express on the current crisis in microcredit and the government's response. They argue that the heavy-handed response by the Andhra Pradesh government risks making the poor worse off, and instead propose five immediate starting points for reform:
Last week Melinda Gates announced new funding of $500 million for micro-savings services in the developing world. In her speech she cited research being conducted by IPA on commitment savings accounts in Malawi. These accounts have had huge huge impacts, increasing bank deposits, farm investments, and ultimately consumption.
Wired reports on a study finding hamsters subjected to jet lag suffered long-term cognitive impairment:
The jet-lagged hamsters were worse at learning which of two chambers contained a desirable running wheel. Even after 28 days of a back-to-normal schedule, the formerly jet-lagged hamsters still showed learning and memory problems.
At last, I have a scientific excuse! Maybe we can all be more forgiving of our frequently traveling colleagues.
A new study from researchers at UC Davis, Pittsburgh and the US Air Force Academy uses randomized assignment of students at the Air Force Academy to squadrons to estimate the impact of social networks on fitness:
A while back, a donor posted a charitable-giving-comedy-of-errors story on the GiveWell blog. In it, Ian Turner simply wants to give away money, and ends up spending years doing background checks, reading research papers, and making a lot of direct calls to NGOs. After all that, he still feels that he often gave to groups that didn't use the money well.
Filmmaker Christopher Richardson buys goats for third world families as "ethical" thank-you gifts for his clients. When some of his clients express their doubts about the existence of these goats, Christopher goes to Zambia to find out for himself.