There was lots to like in the past month. The Economist highlighted some recent studies on the impact of microfinance. The consensus is still: it works, except when it doesn’t.
Cass Sunstein (of Nudge fame) wrote an essay on Albert Hirschman’s thoery of the “hiding hand”. This essay will be the introduction of a new edition of Hirschman’s essential Development Programs Observed.
There have been many excellent blog posts recently about the SAOS study on Fairtrade. (Fair-trade has never worked. Why is everyone so excited now?, Million Dollar Question: Does Fairtrade Work?, and What is Fair to Expect of Fairtrade?)
Arvind Subramanian, a Senior Fellow at the Center for Global Development, created an extensive reading list for understanding economic development.
Finally, Owen Barder (of “Development Drums” podcast fame), wrote an excellent blog piece on Google and the Trolley Problem. Basically, that philosophical hypothetical about a speeding trolley and the choice to do nothing and let five people die or take action and kill one person is no longer hypothetical.
All of these links I like, but there are three links I LOVE:
1. Why You Should Root for Nigeria (or Brazil, Mexico, or Ghana
Development economist, Dean Karlan made a quick and dirty formula for who you should root for in the World Cup if you hold strongly to utilitarian principles and global happiness.
2. Sinister Tips for Mission Trips
Bruce Wydick (the guy who did the evaluation on Compassion International’s child sponsorship program) has written a marvelous piece about summer mission trips in the style of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters. It is a great mix of satire and utmost sincerity. If only every development economist wrote like this…
3. Please Do Not Teach This Woman to Fish
Daniel Altman, professor of economics at New York University, wrote a harsh but clearheaded plea for all those who work with small-scale entrepreneurs in developing countries to rethink their strategy.
Finally, the picture of the month – from 40 Maps that Explain the Middle East I really enjoy these nighttime space images. Check out the light lining the Nile River!