The IPA Blog


When low-tech is highly successful

Sep 11/09 | From the blog
by Kerry Brennan

It is a difficult and not particularly fruitful debate when different sectors important to economic development are pitted against one another in the quest for donor attention. Lasting development progress usually encompasses many areas, and debates that fail to recognize this are often just distracting.   Some of the more interesting (and no less heated) debates are waged once a specific sector of focus or growth constraint has been identified.

What's the cost of a fair price?

Sep 09/09 | From the blog
by Martin Rotemberg

What's the cost of a fair price?

IPA's President, Dean Karlan, recently came to La Paz for a jam-packed day of meeting with all of our partners. Of course, at above 12,000 feet, La Paz isn't a good place to arrive just in time for an exhausting day with no lunch. Unsurprisingly, by 7pm we were suffering, so we struck out for the country director's house down in the suburbs, where there's more air.

Mysteries of grocery shopping in Cusco

Sep 09/09 | From the blog
by Kartik Akileswaran

I recently returned from a 3-week trip to Cusco, Peru to help out my fellow Project Associate who is based there. I live in Lima, so the trip to Cusco, a sizeable city in its own right but quite distinct from Lima's hustle and bustle, was a welcome respite. I most certainly enjoyed the sunny weather and the lack of noise pollution. However, being based in Lima, I have grown accustomed to the everyday conveniences that are typical of a big city. I was reminded of this point during a trip to the grocery store while I was in Cusco, albeit in a very peculiar way.

IPA partners win Social Performance Reporting Award

Aug 31/09 | From the blog

Microfinance institutions are often assumed to be socially oriented, but as the industry expands and more institutions enter, it becomes increasingly important to verify these claims.  Donors and social investors should require more than a mission statement and a few anecdotes to know whether an MFI is really reaching the poor.

The House on Mango Lane

Aug 31/09 | From the blog
by Ryan Knight

One of the hardest things about doing research on poverty can be finding people for follow-up visits, especially in urban areas like Accra, Ghana, where I work. As a rule Accra has no helpful signs, street names, or addresses. Directions are based on landmarks, whose defining feature is usually that it's something old -- the types of things that are obvious if you've lived there forever, but make no sense when you're new to the city. The resulting irony is that the most expensive thing about our research can be the time spent finding people to research.

Debunking the microfinance bubble

Aug 28/09 | From the blog
by Jonathan Morduch

Is there a “microfinance bubble”? The question recently hit the front page of the Wall Street Journal.

Why millions of the world’s poor still choose to go private

Aug 24/09 | From the blog
by Martin Rotemberg

Why millions of the world´s poor still choose to go private (from The Financial Times)

Even though public school teachers and public doctors tend to be much more qualified (and cheaper to access) than their private sector counterparts, people in the developing world tend to choose the private option.

Amazonian Fashion and a Lack of Financial Services

Aug 19/09 | From the blog
by Doug Parkerson

The bus ride down from La Paz to the Beni in Bolivia is breathtaking, sometimes because the scenery catches you off guard when you round a bend and sometimes because you too vividly imagine the next few seconds of your life as a thousand foot freefall to a rocky riverbed below.

Times Restaurant Critic on Behavioral Economics

Aug 19/09 | From the blog
by Nathanael Goldberg

Interesting example of the endowment effect from New York Times restaurant critic Frank Bruni:

Summing up the quirky behaviors of his dining companions over his tenure as restaurant critic for the NY Times, Bruni describes the way his fellow diners--to whom he had randomly assigned dishes to be sampled--would become protective of "their" choices, defending their quality.

Does it pay for microentrepreneurs to formalize?

Aug 17/09 | From the blog

The World Bank's Private Sector Development blog discusses the findings of a new study on the informal sector in Bolivia by IPA Research Affiliate David McKenzie:

"Do Marginal Firms in Bolivia Benefit from Formalizing?"

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