Monday, February 28, 2011

From the Economics Focus

From the Economist:
IN THE course of writing this week's Economics focus about the 20 best papers ever published in the American Economic Review, I learned that:
  1. Some acronyms age better than others.
  2. Avinash Dixit and Joseph Stiglitz once made a case for taxing American football and subsidising opera. (See p.307)
  3. Paul Douglas of Cobb-Douglas fame was a remarkable man. (A Quaker, he nonetheless joined the Marines at the age of 50, earning two purple hearts, before serving three terms as Martin Luther King Jr's favourite senator. Most memorable, however, were his prewar tussles with his fellow Chicago aldermen, "the smartest bunch of bastards I ever saw grouped together").
  4. Remarkable though Douglas was, he and Charles Cobb did not invent the Cobb-Douglas production function.
  5. Even if they had, perhaps they shouldn't have.
  6. There's nothing new under the blistering sun. On p.48, Thomas Means, a former project engineer with Truckee-Carlson, anticipates Hernando de Soto by about 75 years. And on p.947/8 does Kenneth Arrow not anticipate John Rawls?
  7. Franco Modigliani and Merton Miller thought whole milk was better than skimmed. (See p.279)
  8. The word "adverse" in the term "adverse selection" is an adjective not an adverb.* (See p.964)
  9. The average bill for surgery in Birmingham, Alabama, in 1953 was $99. (See p.963)
  10. This I already knew: the third part of Friedrich Hayek's 1945 article, " The Use of Knowledge in Society", is one of the best intellectual tributes ever paid to society's chancers, opportunists and wheeler-dealers. Being in the right place at the right time, argues Hayek, is quite as socially useful as being the "right" man for the job in some abstract sense.
  11. The 20 best papers in the AER's history average about 1.3 numbered equations per page

Friday, February 18, 2011

Career advice in Development Studies

 If you’re thinking about your career, here’s a compilation of advice for young professionals and students in international aid/development. You’ll notice some mixed messages: Networking! No, experience is more important that connections! Actually, you need a graduate degree! I think we can safely conclude that they’re all important. What’s most important for you? Well, that depends on where you are and where you want to go..
Career advice in Development Studies

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Agenda for Development Economics

Angus Deaton, “Understanding the Mechanisms of Economic Development”
Daron Acemoglu, “Theory, General Equilibrium, and Political Economy in
Development Economics”
Dani Rodrik, “Diagnostics before Prescription”
Debraj Ray, “Uneven Growth: A Framework for Research in
Development Economics”
Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Dulo, “Giving Credit Where It Is Due”
Mark R. Rosenzweig, “Microeconomic Approaches to Development:
Schooling, Learning, and Growth”

The Agenda for Development Economics

The Evolution of Economic Science: Macroeconomics, Growth, and Development

The evolution of macroeconomics in the past century, and the emergence of microeconomic foundations in macroeconomics, then shifts outward, to the application of economic analysis to such issues as structural unemployment, the ongoing U.S. recession, and the best ways to help developing nations.

Moderator: Daron Acemoglu

Panel: Robert M. Solow HM, Peter Diamond '63, Robert Hall '67, Esther Duflo PhD '99

Changing education paradigms

In this talk from RSA Animate, Sir Ken Robinson lays out the link between 3 troubling trends: rising drop-out rates, schools' dwindling stake in the arts, and ADHD. An important, timely talk for parents and teachers.
Ken Robinson: Changing education paradigms | Video on

The linguistic genius of babies

Patricia Kuhl shares astonishing findings about how babies learn one language over another -- by listening to the humans around them and "taking statistics" on the sounds they need to know. Clever lab experiments (and brain scans) show how 6-month-old babies use sophisticated reasoning to understand their world.
Patricia Kuhl: The linguistic genius of babies | Video on